Military social media policies

The United States Army has officially announced the release of the 2011 Army Social Media Handbook,a document that's meant to offer social media guidance for soldiers,personnel and families alike.

The handbook is a follow-up to the 2010 Social Media Book,which was produced by the Army's Online and Social Media Division. According to a post on Army Live,the official U.S. Army blog,the 2010 book "only scratched the surface of Army social media use, " which is why a new document was created.

The new social media handbook now provides additional tips and best practices,along with information on operations security tips,branding information,checklists,regulations and frequently asked questions.

A list of security tips,provided in the handbook,includes points such as:

- Setting privacy setting options to "friends only."
- Not revealing schedule information and event locations.
- Considering turning off the GPS function of smartphones to avoid geotagging.
- Reviewing photos and videos before they're posted online to make sure they don't give away "sensitive" information.
- Making sure family members understand what type of information can and cannot be posted on social networks.

These Army guidelines and tips come during an era when social media use has become increasingly widespread and accepted in the U.S. military,to the point where the Department of Defense announced a new social media policy last February. On one hand,it's still possible for commanders to restrict Internet access — going beyond social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter — from time to time. Just last month,the U.S. Air Force blocked more than 25 media websites,including The New York Times,from its computers to prevent access to classified information originally published by WikiLeaks. (Note: The ban did not extend to personal computers.)

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