Social media is more prevalent than ever. It’s difficult not to be impacted by it in some way. As a result, in August the Department of Defense came out with its first guidance for social media use. Then, in November the Army established a service-wide policy that details what information Army members may share on their personal social media accounts. Here’s what to know about what can and cannot be shared on social media.
New Social Media Policy
The Army’s new social media policy establishes the need for more social media training early on for new recruits. Before certain promotions, officers will be required to take social media courses.
The new policy now prohibits officers from sharing any official information to their personal accounts, only allowing it to be shared from official accounts of the Department of Defense. Additionally, if a post is removed after being posted, the reason as to why it was removed will be made clear. The only social media platforms that officials can use must be those than have already been vetted.
Separating the Army from its Members
The purpose of the new policy is to establish more of a defining separation between the Army itself and its members. By keeping service members and the organization separate, it’s less likely that the military can remain neutral and protected. It also helps to make it clear that when something is posted on the official pages, it is official. In the past it has been an issue for people to see announcements on personal pages, not knowing if what they were reading was true. The military also wants no part in being associated with any of its members’ radical beliefs.
It’s important to make clear that service members are in no way prevented from sharing their beliefs on their own personal social media accounts – they just cannot be in uniform or have information regarding their rank. They must also include a disclaimer stating that the opinions that they share are that of their own and do not represent the military or the Department of Defense. Even without any personal opinions, service members may not post their uniform, title, symbols, or insignia on their personal accounts.
Opinions for the new policy have been mixed, with some people feeling that it infringes upon free speech, while others believe that it more freely allows service members to share their opinions since it separates them from the military.
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The U.S. Government has an interest in obtaining a conviction as soon as possible, as it does not wish to gain negative publicity about one of its service members. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced military attorney as soon as possible.
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