New Capabilities, Same Old Issues Define Social Media

November 2, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman
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As social media permeates deeper into military organizations, leaders are confronting a host of challenges. However, those challenges largely are new incarnations of longstanding problems that have faced military communicators for generations. A panel of experts at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2011 focused on how information sharing can exist within an information security environment. Many of their concerns proved to be more user-oriented than technology-based. Addressing those concerns, Master Sgt. Andrew Baker, USA, 516th Signal Brigade, said that forces need to be more operations-security (OPSEC) oriented with new media. In the Army, the problem has been soldiers who did not consider that the information they were posting on Facebook was giving away operational details that could be used by an enemy. "Right now, at the OPSEC environment, education is basic," he said, calling for leaders to be more aggressive in OPSEC. SPC E4 Anthony Vandergrift, USA (Ret.), who used social media in Afghanistan as an infantryman, related how some soldiers violated OPSEC while using social media. He described how some bought a 56k cell modem so that they could post information on social media sites. In doing so, they circumvented Army rules and could have put their unit at risk.

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