U.S. Army Social Media

ARMY SOCIAL MEDIA

Soldiers and Families

Social media plays a very important role in our lives. It helps us learn, share experiences with others and stay connected to things we care about. The Army encourages Soldiers and their Families to use social media to stay connected and tell the Army’s story.

Many Soldiers and Families are new to the Army, but they are not new to using social media. There are security risks and regulations that Soldiers and their Families, especially those new to the Army, must be aware of before posting.

Understanding this dynamic is crucial because, as members of the Army profession and family, you are expected to live the Army Values, online and offline. Soldiers and their Families are personally responsible for all content they publish on social networking sites, blogs, and other websites.

Army Senior Leader message about appropriate online behavior

Online Conduct - Think, Type, Post

The U.S. Army is a values-based organization where everyone is expected to treat all persons as they should be treated – with dignity and respect, as outlined in AR 600-20. The U.S. Army defines online conduct as the use of electronic communications in an official or personal capacity in a manner that is consistent with Army values and standards of conduct.

It is important that all Soldiers know that when they are logged on to a social media platform, they still represent the U.S. Army. Soldiers using social media must abide by the UCMJ at all times, even when off duty. Commenting, posting and linking to material that violates the UCMJ or basic rules of Soldier’s conduct are prohibited, along with talking negatively about supervisors or releasing sensitive information.

Online misconduct is a term that describes unacceptable or improper behavior through the use of technology. According to ALARACT 075/2017, it is "the use of electronic communication to inflict harm. Examples include, but are not limited to: harassment, bullying, hazing, stalking, discrimination, retaliation, or any other types of misconduct that undermine dignity and respect."

Reporting Misconduct

There are mechanisms for reporting online misconduct. While there is no federal criminal statute called “online bullying,” misuse of online communications, sending harassing or intimidating communications and images, or other online misconduct may violate existing federal laws under the U.S. Code and may also be a violation of the UCMJ.

Army Regulation 600-20 authorizes commanders to punish Soldiers who are in violation of its direction, making failure to adhere to the Army's rules for online behavior a punishable offense under the UCMJ.

Members of the U.S. Army community should report incidents through their chain of command or family support services for resolution. Additional avenues for reporting and information include the Equal Opportunity for military and civilians, SHARP, the Inspector General and law Enforcement offices. More information can be found at the Online Conduct - Deputy Chief of Staff, Army G1.

Guidance on Political Activity and DOD Support

Soldiers are encouraged to express their opinions of the political process online and offline, as long as they are consistent with the Army values and are not expressed as part of an organized communication campaign and as a representative of the U.S. Army or as a Soldier. Such opinions must be expressed as an individual apart from the military.

Soldiers should be aware of the limitations that exist when it comes to participation in political activity as well as DOD support to political campaigns. You must adhere to the policy in Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 when posting any political content, which includes:

  • Cannot participate in any interview or discussion as an advocate for or against a party, candidate or cause.
  • Can generally express their personal views on public issues or political candidates via social media platforms much the same as they would be permitted to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper.
  • Cannot participate in partisan political activity.
  • Can “follow,” “friend,” or “like” a political party or candidate running for partisan office.
  • Cannot post links to, “share” or “retweet” comments or tweets from a Facebook page or Twitter account of a political party or candidate running for partisan office. Such activity is deemed to constitute participation in political activities.
  • Cannot communicate contemptuous words against the president, vice president, secretary of defense, deputy secretary of defense, secretary of the navy, or governor and legislature of any state in which he or she is located or performing duty in. It’s against federal law for commissioned officers to communicate in this manner.

Service members must also be careful not to comment, post, or link to material that violates the UCMJ or service regulations. Examples include showing contempt for public officials, releasing sensitive information, or posting unprofessional material that is prejudicial to good order and discipline under the UCMJ.

OPERATIONS SECURITY

Operations Security is the process by which we protect unclassified information that can be used against us. Its purpose is to prevent potential adversaries from discovering critical DOD information. OPSEC protects U.S. operations - planned, in progress and completed. Success depends on secrecy and surprise, so the military can accomplish the mission more quickly and with less risk. Enemies of freedom want this information, and they are not just after the military member to get it.

“What could a person do with this information? Could it compromise my safety or the safety of my Family or my unit?”

Do
  • Talk to your Family about OPSEC, so they know what can and cannot be posted.
  • Turn off geotagging and location-based social networking on phones and digital cameras.
  • Maximize your security settings on social platforms and include two-step verification, if available.
  • Closely review photos or videos before posting to ensure sensitive or personal information is not released (e.g., troop locations, equipment, tactical unit details, and numbers of personnel).
Don't
  • Use copyrighted media.
  • Post details about your assigned unit’s mission or security procedures.
  • Announce locations and times of your unit deployments.
  • Release information about the death of a Service member before the next of kin is notified and the information is released by the DOD.
  • Post images of damaged equipment and gear.
  • Share large personnel transactions (e.g., pay information, power of attorney, wills, or deployment information).
  • Post unit morale or personnel problems.
MAKING SOCIAL MEDIA POST SAFER
Geotagging safety

Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification to photographs, videos, websites and SMS messages. It is the equivalent of adding a 10-digit grid coordinate to everything posted on the Internet. Some smartphones and digital cameras automatically embed geotags into pictures and many people unknowingly upload photos to the Internet that contain location information.

One Soldier exposing his or her location can affect the entire mission. Deployed Soldiers, or Soldiers conducting operations in classified areas, should not use location-based social networking services.

Safety and Security Tips

Death of a Soldier or other Service Member

Interactions over social media make up a major part of our daily online communication, so when Soldiers are killed or go missing in action, it can be hard to turn off the flow of information distributed through social media platforms. While it is difficult to prepare for tragedy, it is important to keep in mind that social media can play a role (good or bad) in the handling of a serious illness, injury or death.

It is imperative that you not become part of the problem by adding to the rumors and speculation when there is a report of an injury or death. If approached by another member of your organization about a report or rumor, explain that you do not know and they should not speculate. Should you be approached by a member of the media, refer him or her to the first public affairs professional in your organization.

Information about Killed In Action individuals must not be released before the next of kin is notified.

In accordance with DOD Instruction 1300.18, Personnel Casualty Matters, Policies, and Procedures; details about Soldiers killed or missing in action cannot be released until 24 hours after the next of kin has been notified and after the information has been released by the DOD. Always follow unit and Army protocol when it comes to these situations.

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