Memorial Day, Social Media and the Enemy

Social Media

The EnemyMemorial Day used to be called “Decoration Day” in honor of men and women who died giving service to our country.  I will think about the fallen men and women today but I’ll also be thinking about my son this Memorial Day. He is in his third year of ROTC training and this is the summer he has to choose the job path he wants in the Army. And a year and a half from now he will graduate and take the oath.

He will then leave for boot camp. He’s in the best shape of his young life and has been studying war tactics, gone on weekend survival maneuvers and done things I’m sure he’ll never tell me because he knows it will just make me anxious. I know they are preparing him for what’s ahead as best as they can. I dread the day he calls to say, “I’m being deployed, Mom.”

Social media will play an important role in staying connected with him. The Army has just released its’ 2013 social media guidebook recognizing the importance of communication and contact between loved ones serving.  But it will be a very different kind of social.

The enemy is watching…

“In order to maintain OPSEC (operations security), it is important to remain vigilant at all times. Sharing seemingly trivial information online can be dangerous to loved ones and fellow Soldiers—and may even get them killed. America’s enemies scour blogs, forums, chat rooms and personal websites to piece together information that can harm the United States and its Soldiers. Never accept a friend request from someone you don’t know, even if they know a friend of yours. Don’t share information that you don’t want to become public. Someone might target you for working in the DoD, so be cautious when listing your job, military organization, education and contact information. Providing too much information in your profile can leave you exposed to people who want to steal your identity or sensitive operational information.”

No geotagging and revealing your location or the location of loved ones. Photos could go viral.  Privacy settings will take on all new meaning. Using social media to stay in touch with my son will not be easy and any small slip could jeopardize his life and that of his unit.

So on this Memorial Day, I will honor the men and women who have gone before him. We’ll take a long walk and have a real conversation without any Army rules and regulations over our heads just yet.  And I’ll hug him just a little tighter today.


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