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Don't get caught in the net
Lt-Col Glenn Ryan
SOCIAL media has become part
of our daily lives. The plethora of
online networking applications such
as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace
have been enhanced by technology
that allow us to instantly post com-
ments, images and video at any time
to family and friends, offering tre-
mendous benefits to the transient
lifestyle of an Army member.
Although the majority of members
do the right thing and are aware of
their personal security online, a small
number of Army members have decid-
ed to misuse social media, which has
lead to pitfalls which may result in
DFDA or administrative action.
Here are a few examples in which
Army personnel have used social
media inappropriately and are paying
Facebook page with strict privacy set-
tings made racist and sexist comments
that one of his "friends" did not like. The
"friend" printed the screens and pro-
vided them to the public.
Case 2 -- A member of a Facebook
group with privacy settings took part
in an inappropriate discussion (sex-
ist and racist). A "trusted" member of
the Facebook group provided the inap-
propriate discussion to the media. The
media outlet used the member's com-
ment for a story which is now in the
Case 3 -- A member made racists
comments and placed imagery of his
operational deployment on his social
media site without appropriate privacy
settings. A widely read internet blog
made the member and his comments
the centre of an editorial.
Facebook page in the name of another
person without that person's knowl-
edge. On this false Facebook page he
made inappropriate comments and
uploaded inappropriate images that tar-
geted the character of the individual.
All of the individuals above have
either been or are subject to discipli-
nary or administrative action because
of their decision to use social media
inappropriately. These individuals did
not follow some basic rules of using
social media such as understanding
ownership, defamation and privacy
Ownership -- Once something is
posted online you can no longer con-
trol how it is used. Your images, com-
ments and other information can be
sent to the world without your knowl-
edge. Don't put anything online that
you don't want people to know. Your
"friend" may be the Trojan Horse
waiting to leak private information.
Defamation -- You are responsible
for what you do online regardless of
privacy settings. A recent study in the
UK highlighted that the vast majority
of people using social networking sites
were unaware of their responsibilities
and therefore the legal implications
of their online exploits. To avoid the
risk make sure what you are saying is
accurate, doesn't misrepresent infor-
mation and don't post anything that
could be deemed offensive.
Privacy -- Safeguarding your private
information online is more than just
protecting against scams and fraud.
When you are involved in an incident
of interest the media and other parties
will search social media to find photos
or comments to support their agen-
da. Your online profiles may then be
used against you. Disclosing the per-
sonal information of others, including
opening a social media site in another
person's name, may breach state and
Commonwealth laws. Social media is
a vital medium in today's lifestyle.
Used correctly it can be an avenue
to keep family and friends informed of
your experiences. However the incor-
rect use can be detrimental to you,
your family, your mates and the Army.
MY MESSAGE to all soldiers is:
embrace social media -- it's a good
thing -- but be aware of the dangers
that inappropriate comments or
images pose to our security, our
reputation and the privacy of our
members. If you become aware of
such behaviour, say something.
Report it through the chain of com-
mand or get the site owner to close
it before it does any further damage.
-- WO David Ashley, RSM-A
THE RIGHT WAY
Pointers for using social media:
Be apolitical, impartial and pro-
Behave with respect and cour-
tesy, and without harassment.
Deal appropriately with informa-
tion, recognising that some infor-
mation must remain confidential.
Be sensitive to the diversity of the
Australian and global public.
Take reasonable steps to avoid
conflicts of interest.
Networking: Social media is a valuable tool for individuals and
organisations as long as it's used properly.
Photo by LS Paul Berry
The benefits of social media are many, but so are the dangers
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