Social media is everywhere now. Every generation, in some aspect, is affected by it. In August, the Department of Defense released its first guideline for social media use. That release acted as the catalyst for other social media reforms to be put into place.
Army Announces New Social Media Policy
This month the Army also came out with a new service-wide policy that dictates what information can and can’t be shared through personal social media accounts. The new policy also states what information can be shared through official accounts.
This new policy also calls for more social media training earlier on for new recruits as well as for officers. Social media courses will be required for officers prior to certain promotions as well.
Official statements from the Department of Defense now can only be released from official accounts. Officers can no longer use their personal accounts to share official information.
If any post is removed from social media platforms there will now be more transparency as to the reason why the post was removed.
Finally, the last aspect of the new policy states that officials can not use new social media platforms that have yet to be vetted.
The new policy is working towards more accountability and a clearer separation between the individuals who make up the ranks and the overhead organization. These new protocols are geared toward protecting the military and making it easier to clearly stay nonpartisan.
What Does the New Policy Mean?
Official announcements will only come from official pages. Service men and women will no longer have to wonder if what was seen posted is true or not. The clear separation also helps to humanize the officials. They can have their own profiles and opinions, it just needs to be clearly separate.
Some individual service members have used their rank and involvement in the military as a platform to build a social media following. Service members are still able to express their beliefs, but they can’t be in uniform or have any information about the poster’s rank listed. A disclaimer needs to also be present expressing the opinions are that of the individual and do not represent the military or Department of Defense.
Titles, insignia, symbols, and uniforms will no longer be allowed on personal profiles. Previously it was hard to differentiate between a personal profile and an official page. The DoD and Army are hopeful that these measures will help people distinguish between a military member supporting more radical beliefs and the overall stance of the military.
There will also be more training for social media both for new recruits and for Officers. An interactive training platform will be used for the training of new recruits early on.
Officers will also experience more training in a Basic Officer Leader Course as well as a Captain’s Career Course. These courses are required prior to promotion into said positions. The goal is to better equip both new recruits and Officers on how to properly navigate, and release and protect information.
Kick Back from New Social Media Policy
There are some who believe that the new policy limits the freedom of speech of service members. Bryce Dubee, an Army spokesman, states that it was the DoD’s social media guideline that brought about this policy change for the Army.
Some feel that this policy is meant to silence individuals’ opinions. Military members use their personal accounts to share their personal beliefs. Why should the government be involved at all?
Social Media Policy has Growing Support
While there is negative backlash from this new policy, it does have a fair amount of support as well. Having official pages and profiles for official DoD and service-wide messages keeps any ambiguity out of it.
Carrie Lee, an associate professor at Army War College, is excited about the new changes and believes that this is a good move on the part of the DoD. It will give the individuals more flexibility to share their opinions compared to the restrictions placed prior to the new policy. Now members can openly express themselves while making it clear that it is their personal opinions and not that of the military.
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