Facebook: The enemy's best friend, so be careful

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  • By Senior Airman Kenneth Green
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What do Soviet spies and Facebook have in common? They assist the enemy in obtaining information that would otherwise be secret. It is too often you go online and see social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter with information that violates operational security (OPSEC).

I remember watching American Forces Network and seeing commercials for proper OPSEC and Information Awareness. I used to think to myself, "Why me?" Looking back on these commercials, I'm starting to understand the importance of having a little "common sense" online.

What if I told that you within seconds anyone could boot up their computer and find out a unit is deploying from one base to another and what time the flight is? With all of the social networking taking place, it makes it very possible.

Posts such as, "Leaving for my four-month deployment to Iraq tomorrow at 6 a.m.," or, "Have to work late because we went to BRAVO," pose a huge compromise to the mission across the U.S. Air Force and other military branches. As military members, we need to practice more diligence for what we put out to the public, as well as educate others around us when we see them posting potentially sensitive information.

The posting of such items could land you in serious trouble with your boss.

Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 92-Failure to obey order or regulation states: "Any person subject to this chapter who -- (1) violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation; (2) having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by a member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or (3) is derelict in the performance of his duties; shall be punished as a court martial may direct." Compromising the mission would fall under such instances.

According to Air Force Instruction 71-101 paragraph 2.7.6, personnel should report the following information to the Office of Special Investigation: "Information indicating military members, civilian employees or Department of Defense contractors have contemplated, attempted, or affected the deliberate compromise or unauthorized release of classified or unclassified controlled information."

This holds all of us responsible to report information when we believe something may be jeopardizing the mission. Dependents play an integral role in OPSEC as well and should avoid posting updates such as a spouse leaving for a three-week deployment to Singapore. Also, letting everyone on your page know that you are going shopping at the mall for hours leaves an open invitation for an intruder to enter your home.

You may think, "Only my friends can see what I post and I trust them not to say anything." Sometimes this is true, but most of the time it is not. The grapevine works online as well and is commonly used through Facebook and other social media. I urge everyone to rethink what you put out for public display. Think to yourself, "Would I want my commander or first sergeant to see this?" and if the answer is no, do not post it.

"Whether we are on duty or off duty, we cannot afford to let our guard down," said Maj. Gen. Keith Alexander, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command commanding general. "Your diligence in OPSEC is key to ensuring our effectiveness in operations and our collective safety. Together, we will succeed."