National Guard Bureau tells what not to write on Facebook

Guard members encouraged to set privacy at 'friends only'

The National Guard Bureau is giving guard members specific guidance on how to control their privacy settings on Facebook and what to avoid publishing on social media sites.

The guidance advises guard members to use “friends only” privacy settings on social networking sites. It also warns that members' social network "friends" and "followers" could be factors in background investigations when the members apply for security clearances.

"Remember, what happens online is available to everyone, everywhere," wrote Jack Harrison, the bureau's public affairs director, in an Aug. 16 news release about the policy. “There should be no assumption of privacy when guard members begin to interact with others online."


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The guidance prohibits members from publishing any content distributed internally by the guard that has not been officially approved for release to the public.

The policy bans publishing internal “memos, e-mails, meeting notes, message traffic, white papers, public affairs guidance, pre-decisional materials, investigatory information and proprietary information” if those materials are not specifically authorized for release, according to the news release.

The policy also prohibits the publishing of National Guard e-mail addresses, telephone numbers or fax numbers not already authorized for public release.

Guard members who fail to follow the guidelines are subject to disciplinary action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Although the policy also warns about adhering to federal and military laws and guidelines, it encourages guard members to share information about their lives in the guard on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.

"The National Guard is involved in various missions around the world every day, and Guard members are in the best position to share factually the National Guard's story," Harrison wrote.

Guard members are allowed to list their rank, military component, and status on Facebook and other sites. However, “if they decide not to identify themselves as guard members, they should not disguise, impersonate or misrepresent their identity or affiliation with the National Guard.”

And when expressing personal opinions, guard members should make it clear that they are speaking for themselves and not on behalf of the guard.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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