Social Media Security Lessons from the US Army (

To avoid leaks of sensitive information that might put missions and lives at risk, the Army created a 52-page handbook that explains what is and isn’t safe for soldiers and civilian personnel to post about online. The handbook was updated earlier this year.

Have you trained your employees on what they can and can’t say about your business on your (and their) social media accounts ? The consequences, while not nearly as deadly, can be just as serious.

1. Give specific examples of what is and isn’t safe to post.

The Army policy offers examples of potentially dangerous social media posts instead of general rules, and shows how they can be made safer. Posting specific information about a soldier’s duty assignment in a war zone can be used by potential enemies. More general information, like “My son or daughter has deployed to Afghanistan,” is less risky. Along the same lines, many companies tell their employees not to post information related to ongoing litigation involving the company, non-published financial data, or unreleased product information. Employees are told to direct questions on these subjects to specific groups, such as the legal department.

2. Think about the competition before posting.

In a company environment, employees should ask themselves, “What could a competitor, an unhappy customer or a disgruntled former employee do with this information?” before posting. In addition to information and interviews published in the media, competitive intelligence professionals can search the social media accounts of company executives and employees.

3. Train your social media staff.

When you assign an employee to maintain your company’s social media accounts, thoroughly train him or her on your company’s social media strategy and your social media conduct standards. Make sure they know what you expect when they post on your company’s behalf. And insist that they always know which account they are posting on. Many serious and embarrassing errors have been made by an employee who thought they were posting on their personal account, but the post appeared on the company’s account.

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