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COMMENTARY: Social Media: Stay connected, but stay secure

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE - Okla. -- Social media is still a great way to keep in touch; but it is important to be aware that not everyone watching is a "friend."

The Air Force guide to use of Social Media advises users to: "Be cautious with information sharing. Maintain privacy settings on your social media accounts, change your passwords regularly and don't give out personally identifiable information. Be cautious about the personal details you share on the Internet."

Good advice when the guide was originally published in 2010 ... even better now. In it's fourth edition, the guide is available online at: www.af.mil/Portals/1/documents/SocialMediaGuide2013.pdf.

Current world events dictate we apply an extra level of caution when posting information to social media sites. We need to make sure we are protecting our national and personal interests.  It doesn't take many newscasts to figure out there are bad people -- identity thieves, child predators and worse -- surfing the internet for potential victims.

We need to be 100 percent certain that "no classified, sensitive or For Official Use Only information inadvertently winds up on the web." The best rule is: If in doubt -- don't post!  At least not before checking it out with your unit security manager or your public affairs representative. 

Don't forget the hidden risk -- Geotagging. (more commonly known as Location or GPS services)

Geotagging adds geographical identification data to photos, videos,
websites and text messages through location based applications. This technology helps people find images and information based on a location from a mobile device or desktop computer.

If you haven't disabled it on your smart phone camera, that picture you posted of your granddaughter playing on her favorite park swing just told the wrong people exactly where that swing is and a likely time of day to find her there. 

The good news? These applications are easily disabled without impacting your ability to use your other smart phone features, such as maps.  If in a deployed location -- disable them all.

We all need to make thoughtful, informed decisions about what and how much information we share publicly.  Practicing good operational and personal security is always the right decision.