Think Twice Before You Blog That
Hello, blog reader. By now, most of us know that military spouse blogging is its own unique niche in the blogging community. But did you also know that, unlike other blogging niches, certain information milspouses share could potentially cause risk to themselves and our service members? Let’s discuss.
As a military spouse, there are certain responsibilities that bloggers need to keep in mind when sharing any type of information on the Internet. Some are common sense, but others are specific to the milspouse community. While blogging provides an outlet to share our thoughts, meet new people, stay connected to friends and find support, it also comes with a risk.
I wish I could say I’m being a little melodramatic, but fact is fact. I got my first taste of this a couple years back when my husband’s unit was deployed. Somehow, the location of where our service members were stationed in Afghanistan was making its way around social media. The command threatened to take away all computer and phone access for the rest of the deployment if this confidential information didn’t stop spreading. It put everyone on high alert— both when visiting social networking sites and also when writing and reading blogs.
Whether you’re a blogger, a reader, a commenter or just an observer, it does everyone good to know what potential risks to look for so we can do our part to keep our military (and families) safe. And the other stuff? It’s just the nice thing to do.
Practice OPSEC. Operational security, or OPSEC, is probably the most important thing we milspouse bloggers must keep in mind when blogging. OPSEC is a way to keep enemies from gaining information that could put you, your service member, or your service member’s unit at risk. This is especially important during deployments. To simplify, never share specific dates, locations, or time frames that you may hear via your service member… or the grapevine!
Review your photos with an eagle eye. Your photos may be giving out more personal information than you realize. Inspect your photos thoroughly before sharing them on your blog. Can you see any house numbers, license plates or street names in the photo? What about your service member’s nametape or rank, or that of others around him? Even little things in photos, like a mug with a unit logo or a prominent landmark, could potentially pose a risk to you or your service member.
Check your facts. If you are at all concerned that your content may be inaccurate, double-check your facts before sharing them on your blog. No one wants to read something that isn’t true, plus you’ll lose credibility. If you’re totally sure your facts are correct, and you post them but later find out they were wrong, have the grace to update your blog and/or let your readers know.
Stick it in the crock pot. Before you go off on a rant about something you don’t understand or don’t like about the military or your spouse’s job, let it stew for a while, on low heat, for about 8-10 hours. Are you being irrational or emotional? Get your feelings in check before going off about something related to the military. Consider who could potentially read your post, and if it’s still something you feel comfortable saying out loud, you’ll know what to do.
Credit your sources. Original content is always preferable in the blogging world, but for the times when you quote someone else’s article or use a photo from another site, credit the original source! You may also avoid any legal problems that could arise from taking it and posting it as your own.
Be genuinely awesome. Will you feel like you’re misrepresenting yourself if you do or don’t post this? Can you tell your story honestly? While you shouldn’t air your dirty laundry in public, if something is going on in your life that you really want to share, do it with integrity. Don’t blog at someone else’s expense, whether it’s your spouse or a friend. Something I always try to do before submitting a blog post or writing something personal is to share it with whomever the post is about. I feel better about it going live, and I know my spouse and friends appreciate it, too!
As wonderful as the blogging community can be, military spouses do have added responsibilities when it comes to sharing online. We owe it to ourselves and our service members to check our facts, not spread rumors and keep our family and friends out of harm’s way by taking extra precautions when writing. Words can be a very powerful thing, and once you’ve blogged them, they never go away!