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Privacy with social networking

  • Published
  • By Karen Leden
  • 87th Communications squadron
Social Networking services are internet programs such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter that allows people to connect to one another through internet or mobile devices. These sites allow you to engage in social networking activities and keep in touch even from forward-deployed locations. However, you should always keep in mind anyone with access to internet-based capabilities must employ sound security.

In addition users should make sure their personal opinions can't represent the policy or official position of the DOD.

Your personal profiles can pose a huge security risk. Some people post more than enough information for someone to steal their identity: date of birth, hometown, address, email, school, telephone and names of family members. Avoid posting this information and limit any personal information to prevent criminals from filling out forms in your name or guessing your passwords. If someone can impersonate you, then there is a huge danger to your privacy and military OPSEC. Always be aware of what information you have posted in case a stranger approaches you and seems to have the same interests as you do.

Secure your passwords and make sure they are complex. Do not use the same passwords for multiple accounts. If you use a public computer it may store your password or have hacker software to log your keystrokes. Never talk about passwords, locations, personnel and their movements, sensitive data, or controlled unclassified information. These items are a huge risk to operations security. Also, you should never post defamatory, obscene, abusive, racist, bullying or otherwise illegal information, as it may result in administrative, disciplinary or even legal action against you. Once you post something, it's out there forever. A friend could repost it or someone could hijack your friend's profile and gain access to your information.

A new trend in information technology includes applications that use the GPS in your mobile device to automatically post your physical location to your profile in real time. You can endanger yourself, your coworkers or current operations, simply by logging into social-networking services. Many people are unaware the photos they take with their smart phones and load to the internet have been geographically tagged.

Some people think if you don't sign up for social networking your information is safe. People can still post information about you, geolocate you or tag you in photos. If you don't have an account, someone could easily set one up in your name and fool your friends and family into connecting to their profile. You should regularly search your name in popular network services and search engines to see what has been posted about you and to ensure no one has setup an account with your name, pretending to be you. You should also let your friends know whether you do or do not use social networking services so they won't be tricked into giving away information to a false profile.

Remember you are personally responsible for all the content you post online. Always think twice before posting anything, because once you post information, you lose control over it. Most social networking services have ownership over all content posted and there is no guarantee they won't be hacked. When you make posts, abide by laws as well as DOD policies. Your behavior online can lead to disciplinary measures. Ask your supervisor about what you can and cannot post. Always remember what happens online is available to anyone, anywhere. Remember: once it is posted, there's no way to get it back.

For more information you can reference the new DOD Social Networking CBT at If you have any questions, contact Karen Leden or Traci Carpenter, JB MDL Privacy Act Managers, at 754-3445.