Social media OPSEC across the pond

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The British Ministry of Defence is taking a whack at security risks posed by social networking websites. Through a series of YouTube PSAs that feature bandoleer-donned terrorists straight from central casting, it depicts the dangers of oversharing.

One includes the lovely mum of a service member exchanging a message about an upcoming visit from a VIP at a base in Afghanistan.  Moments later it shows her posting details of the exchange on Facebook while sipping tea, laughing and sharing family photos with a ski-mask wearing terrorist.

“It may not just be friends and family reading your status updates,” the PSA warns.

Then there’s the warning that anyone who has spent time underway can relate to. Two British sailors receive a text message about an upcoming night out right when they get back from six months at sea. One social-media addicted woman keeps on tweeting, taking cell phone pictures with a ship in the background and checking in on Foursquare. Then between the Technicolored lights of the dance floor appear shadowy terrorists waving assault rifles over their heads as they dance, before “Is it just your mates who know where you’ve checked in?” flashes across the screen.

Closer to home, the Department of Defense has tried to use social media for everything from recruiting to keeping families of deployed sailors in touch with their loved ones.  But officials are also concerned that the networks could be direct lines to enemies and warnings about operational security are common. Last month the amphibious assault ship Bataan’s Facebook page was shut down and a spokesman for the ship said it was due to posts about the ship’s planned course, but the spokeswoman from another ship in the Bataan’s amphibious ready group, as well as family members who contacted Scoop Deck, said it was due to waves of gossip.

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