Few people go more than a few days without updating their Facebook status, “checking-in” at some location on their social media application or tweeting their opinions on Twitter. Service members are no exception. However, they must take extra precautions to avoid the legal pitfalls of compromising operational security or making inappropriate remarks when posting anything on public websites. The legal ramifications for improperly posting information or photos on nonsecure websites, compromising operational security, varies greatly depending on an individual’s situation, what information is disclosed and the results from the disclosure.
The Arab Spring, which rose from street-level dissent to form a mass movement, might not have come as a surprise to intelligence agencies if only they had been able to read the tea leaves of social media. The characteristics of social media that differentiate it from other messaging media are compelling intelligence officials to change the way they derive valuable information from it. As a result, experts are calling for the creation of a new discipline that represents a separate branch of intelligence activity.