Going through a deployment? Do you have a service member in your family? Are you friends with a service member? It’s important to know there are rules and guidelines that pertain to the family, friends and service members themselves when they are sharing information online.
What is OPSEC?
OPSEC is short for Operations Security. When we follow OPSEC, we keep service members safe. If we violate OPSEC, we could put our service members and/or their families at risk. As a newbie to this military life and active duty lifestyle, I am learning a lot about what we can and can’t do, both in person, and virtually.
The OPSEC social media don'ts
SPECIFIC DATES: Be very mindful of sharing specific dates when you’re posting to social media. Any dates including return and arrival dates can be dangerous to share and could somehow get into the hands of someone who can do harm. Don’t even include countdowns to when they get to come home. Just stay away from any and all information that could give away a specific date is against the rules.
LOCATION: Be very careful sharing specific details, like names of bases or even more specifically location on bases where your service member is or is traveling to and from. Make sure your service member disables mapping and location services on phones, computers, tablets and other devices as well.
UNIT INFORMATION: This includes everything from the exact battalion, company, troop, etc. your service member is a part of to the inner workings of that unit. Unit morale that your service member may share with you, is not everyone else’s business on social media. This could be used against them by the enemy.
CASUALTIES: There are procedures each branch of service has for notifying families about a casualty of a service member. If you hear of a casualty in your service member’s unit, you cannot share any of that information anywhere online or even speak to the media about it.
SPECIFIC JOBS: Don’t share your service member’s specific job on the internet or on social media. This could instantly give away a lot of personal information about him or her.
DON’T SHARE THEIR PICTURES: Most pictures can give away your service member’s exact location. They should always be mindful of the pictures they’re taking and sharing with family/friends as it is.
PRIVACY SETTINGS DON’T MATTER: Everything you post can be made public no matter the privacy settings of the post. Someone can screenshot your posts and hackers can get into your accounts and share your information with the enemy.
It all may sound like a lot but these security steps can help keep our service members we love and care about deeply, and their families back home, safe.
The OPSEC social media dos vs. don'ts
You can certainly share your situation on social media as long as you’re as vague as possible. Here are a few examples of things you can share about your military life or connection:
Things you can say:
Things you can't say:
- “I am so proud of my soldier, marine, sailor, airman, etc.”
- “My brother is deployed in Iraq right now”
- “I can’t wait for my wife to come home from her deployment soon.”
- “My husband is leaving for his deployment this June.”
- “My nephew comes back from his deployment next week. I can’t wait to hug him!”
- “Spoke to Nate last night and he’s braving the heat like the soldier we know and love! Keep him in your prayers!”
- “We will be reunited during a fun trip next month!”
- “I am so proud of my husband for getting promoted to Captain of (company)…..”
- “My brother is deployed in Iraq right now and he’s stationed at (insert base) in (insert city).”
- “My wife’s deployment ends soon. She flies home with the rest of her company on April 21. I can’t wait to pick her up at (insert airport).”
- “My husband is leaving for his 9-month deployment on June 2.”
- “My nephew is leaving (specific airbase) tomorrow at 0800 and my sister and brother get to pick him up when he lands in Dallas.”
- “Talked to Nate last night and he said it’s very hot during their patrols in (insert city). He told me they are low on ammo, too!”
- “I get to see my husband during his five days of leave from June 23 to June 28 and I even created this adorable countdown clock for it for everyone to see!”
Basically you just have to keep critical information to yourself! Before posting, think “could the bad guys get this information and learn more about my service member or our family?”
It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
I have been learning a lot about all of this and I’m learning as I go. I’m so glad I can share what I’m learning with all of you! Let’s keep our service members safe at all times!