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AUSA Family Readiness Social Media Safety Tips

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Last week, a group of at least six military spouses were the target of online threats made by ISIS, or possibly sympathizers. The words and pictures are nearly identical to those used a month ago when Central Command's Twitter and YouTube accounts were hacked: "American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back, ISIS." "We know everything about you, your wives, and children." The common link between the spouses targeted in the Tweets is this CNN article in which each of them was quoted.

We have heard from a number of spouses who say they are now re-evaluating the information they share on social media and a few who question whether or not to close their blogs or social media accounts altogether. While making that decision, a number of them decided to delete Army Wife or Military Spouse from their bio or “about” section but still wonder if that’s enough to keep them from being the next target.

While each family has to do what they feel is right for them, most spouses I’ve talked to won’t be scared into hiding. In fact, the hashtag #NoFear has been used in online discussions on the topic. However, this may be a good time to rethink your social media settings.

 

  • Not sharing when your spouse will be away. Deployments and TDYs are tough and it’s nice to reach out to our online friends when our spouse isn’t home, but posting that your spouse is gone lets people know you are home alone.

  • Not checking in places. It’s fun to let your friends know you are out and about having a great time, but this lets people know you aren’t home. Checking in at your own house can give people your exact location.
  • Clean up your friends list. Do you know everyone on your friends list? Maybe it’s time to clean it up. Even if you do know the person, make sure it’s not a duplicate profile or a brand new one. It’s very easy to take someone’s picture and create a new profile.
  • Talk to your children about online safety. If you have children with social media profiles, make sure they know what information is OK to share. It also may be helpful to set rules that your family is comfortable with about accepting new friends, what they should do if a stranger messages them, and what the consequences are if these rules are broken. OnGuardOnline.gov has great information if you don’t know where to start.

These threats aren’t a reason to live in fear and some people won’t change their social media use at all, but they do provide a good opportunity to double-check our online security and start or continue an open dialogue with our family about the unique situations military families can face. What suggestions do you have for military families to help them stay safe online?