It’s good to talk, but not online is the message from the Ministry of Defence.
In a drive to protect its service men and women and prevent the leaking of sensitive information, the MoD has launched a campaign highlighting the dangers of service personnel engaging on social media sites.
The campaign, a revival of the 1940’s ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’ poster campaign, is entitled ‘Think Before You…’ and demonstrates the potentially devastating repercussions of service men and women sharing too much information online through a series of short films.
In the first of the films, two sailors are seen heading out for the night, casually messaging friends to confirm the evening’s meeting point and checking-in along the way. The film cuts to the sailors laughing on the dance floor before panning to two armed men in balaclavas. “Is it just your mates who know where you have checked in?” the film asks.
A second film sees a soldier’s mum enjoying tea with an armed terrorist.
The films, the first in a series, close with the message “think before you tweet, blog, update, tag, comment, check-in, upload, text, share.”
Commenting in a Defence Policy and Business News article, Major General John Lorimer, the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategic Communications Officer, said:
“Social media has enabled our personnel to stay in touch with their families and their friends no matter where they are in the world. We want our men and women to embrace the use of sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, but also want them to be aware of the risks that sharing too much information may pose. You don’t always know who else is watching in cyberspace.
“The MOD Headquarters has its own Facebook, YouTube and Twitter feeds and we see no reason to stop our personnel from tweeting or posting on their own walls. But the MOD has a responsibility to warn personnel of the risks they could be exposing themselves to, hence the launch of this new campaign.
“‘Think Before You…’ is a reminder that personal and operational security should be a primary concern and that social media merely provides a different context where sensitive details can be found.”
With over 50% of the UK population registered Facebook users and Twitter amassing over 145 million users worldwide, the MoD campaign is a stark reminder as to the potential risks of sharing personal information on social networking sites.
Online conversation may not carry such potentially devastating results for the majority of social media users, but for servicemen and women, careless talk can cost lives.