MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- With the click of a button, service members and civilians can catch up with what Marines are doing by simply logging onto Facebook, Twitter, Flikr or YouTube.
"For the past few months I have been working with Headquarters Marine Corps on creating a social media policy which will establish the need and management guidelines of your unit's social media site(s)," said Cpl. Scott M. Schmidt, social media chief analyst for Marine Corps News/Marines.mil., with Defense Media Activity – Marines.
In today's world of iPhones and news blogs, the Marine Corps is making it easier for service members, friends and family to get the information they need – anytime, anywhere – whether it's from a cellular phone or personal computer.
"Social media is a powerful communication tool that can assist the Marine Corps in today's complex information environment," said Col. Bryan F. Salas, director, Marine Corps Division of Public Affairs. "It's critical that we join the online conversation and integrate social media into our broader efforts to communicate with the Marine Corps family, the American public and people around the world."
Social media allows Marine Corps photos, videos, stories and information to be distributed to a bigger audience through popular sites.
"I cannot stress enough how important social media is if we want to continue to actively engage our key publics. Public trust is the foundation upon which Public Affairs' credibility rests," said Schmidt, 22, from Boca Raton, Fla., in an e-mail forwarded out to public affairs chiefs. "Our public now has the news at their fingertips with the popularity of social media, and we must ensure our official presence is conveyed online."
Some personnel in the Marine Corps can use social media sites if it is a mission critical requirement and can't be provided through Navy Marine Corps Intranet. Naval Criminal Investigation Service and Criminal Investigation Division are authorized to use social media web sites to aid in investigations. Family Readiness Officers work with their units' public affairs offices to use social media web sites to share information and upcoming events with friends and family members of Marines and sailors in that unit.
"Facebook is a step forward in communication that can be used to get the word out about projects and events to our Marines and sailors, families and friends, as well as extended family members," said Master Sgt. Maurice L. Anderson, family readiness officer for Combat Logistics Battalion 13, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st MLG, 47, from Washington, D.C. "Service members and their families can share video, post stories and pictures."
Marines and sailors are allowed to access social media web sites from their personal computers as long as they follow the rules set forth by the site and maintain operational security. Service members can't display photos of sensitive areas that will affect future missions. Service members also can't post deployment dates, troop location and movement, and future operations.
"As with all other forms of communication, Marines must be vigilant and follow existing policy and regulations, such as operational security, the release of information to the public, and privacy laws," said Salas, 45, from Fairfax, Va. "Marines also must take actions to protect their accounts from cybercriminals. Actions include creating strong passwords, changing passwords often, and not clicking on web links or attachments unless the source can be trusted."
If a unit's official site is registered on the Marines.mil social media list, they're required to post the guidelines found on that page to each of the social networking sites as it states on the login page.
The social media guidelines state it doesn't allow graphic, obscene, explicit or racial comments or submissions that are abusive, hateful or intended to defame anyone or any organization. The social media sites used by Marine public affairs units also don't allow solicitations or advertisements to include promotion or endorsement of any financial, commercial or non-governmental agency.
Through the proper channels, public affairs offices across the Marine Corps can continue telling the Marines Corps story to a larger audience with the help of social media websites.
To register your unit's social media site, visit www.marines.mil and click on "Social Media."