With all the chatter that’s been going on about the recent social media threats made by IS (you can go here to read why I choose to refer to them a IS rather than ‘ISIS’ or ‘ISIL’) I wanted to share my thoughts.
Backstory: earlier this year, some (non-denominational, apparently) jihadist took to twitter and floated the idea of US-based IS operatives (whom, apparently, they believe are already here, so I see no reason not to take them at their word) using social media services to locate military families to target them. A few months ago, this was reported in a state law enforcement memo. And now it’s making national news.
When I started blogging, and then again when SoldierMan joined the Army, I had to consider how much of my life I wanted to share here. And of course, we all (should) do a little reconsideration every time facebook decides new ways to display and “secure” our personal info.
The concept that someone could use the internet to find me isn’t a new one. Once when I was in college, I googled myself, and saw that OU had my full name and home address listed on the internet – even though I never went there, only applied. Crazy, huh?
I also had this conversation with myself when Baby G was born. How much of my daughter’s life was I wanting to share with the anonymous lurkers?
All that to say, this isn’t a new concept. OPSEC and PERSEC are hot, frequent topics of conversation among the military social media community. And I’m the first to admit, I don’t take the highest level of precautions. Parts of my social media presence are necessarily less anonymous than others because I contribute to other sites with my real name.
So, am I reconsidering my self-imposed guidelines because of this latest news?
Most common sense guidelines will cover a multitude of situations, like “don’t post your home address.” That doesn’t mean I am going to tell the yellow pages I want to go unlisted.
To tell you the truth – and I’m not trying to offend anyone – this doesn’t seem to me to be any more of a threat today than it was six months ago. If anyone, a terrorist or a burglar, wanted to locate and attack a military family, using social media to do it is stupidly complicated. All someone would have to do is sit outside a post gate and follow any car with a “Proud Army Wife” bumper sticker.
And before anyone jumps on that, I’M NOT BASHING BUMPER STICKERS. I don’t have them myself, but I don’t have ANY bumper stickers. That’s a-whole-nuther blog post.
If IS is looking to target military families, that means they are already in military towns. And it takes all of half a day to realize that we are legion. At Target. At Hobby Lobby. At Chick-fil-A. Those beacons of joy that milspouses flock to. They don’t have to search through semi-anonymous blogs to find us.
Before I finish – because apparently it needs to be said: I’m not advocating being foolish with your PII or PERSEC. Set guidelines that work for your family and your situation, and stick with them. That should go without saying, but if it does, I know I’ll get comments accusing me of encouraging people to be careless.
Secondly: Remember Shana Hight. Shana had a blog, a twitter, a “social media presence” during her husband’s deployment…and was killed by her psycho neighbor. Not because of anything she posted. Because there are bad people in the world. But people unfairly blamed her for it anyway.
As for myself, I’ll continue writing the way I do and sharing the way I do, because the internet is forever anyway, and what’s done is done. I still won’t post my home address or phone number. I still won’t share deployment countdowns. I’ll still share pictures of my family and stories about our adventures.
This is my life. I won’t let the terrorists take it away from me.