This (Social Network) We’ll Defend: US Army releases new social media handbook

File under “awesome” on a busy morning: receiving an email from the United States Army with a classification “UNCLASSIFIED” and caveats: NONE. Brittany Brown, social media manager for the U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, writes in to share the news that the @USArmy has released a revised social media handbook:

As a follow up to your Jan. 20 article entitled “Department of Defense: access to Internet-based capabilities is critical, despite risks,”, I am happy to announce that we just released a second edition of the U.S. Army Handbook.

The new edition of the U.S. Army Social Media Handbook includes an expanded operations security (OPSEC) section, a section about blogging and Army Strong Stories and a section discussing how to manage fake Facebook pages and social media imposters. In addition to the new sections, we’ve also included a quick reference guide for both Facebook and Twitter and a 10-page social media glossary.

Social Media Handbook 2011

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The Army’s handbook has much in common with the US Navy social media handbook, although there’s no handy tagline for me to add on like “loose tweets sink fleets.” Both guides offer common sense advice that’s clearly worth repeating: don’t post geolocated updates about your unit’s movements or other information that could be of use to enemy combatants or criminals.

What Brown highlights out regarding guidance on imposter accounts, however, is significant. According to the guide, “the practice of impersonating soldiers for financial gain is significant.” The same phishing activity that targets the rest of the users on social networks is a problem for the military as well. Beyond that, there’s every reason to believe that impersonations are also a vector for gathering information that can be used to spear phish more sensitive intelligence. Caveat tweeter.