A deeper look into social media awareness

Base Info

A deeper look into social media awareness

by: Cpl. D. A. Walters, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni | .
U.S. Marine Corps | .
published: January 24, 2015

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --  To some, social media seems like an innocent outlet to tell others about their daily life, keep up with loved ones and to express views on global matters; but not everyone reading status updates or personal information has the best of intentions.

Opportunists and terrorist organizations, to include the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and various extremists around the globe, use social media to gain personally identifiable information, knowledge on living and work places of users and other sensitive information that could possibly imperil a person’s life.

The danger social media sites present should lead everyone to examine what they post, before making it public for the world to see.

Sex Extortion

Sex extortion is a common way service members, and civilians, are taken advantage of through social media.

Sex extortion is when a person is solicited online to engage in cyber-sexual activity, which is often recorded without their awareness, or the sharing of sexually-explicit photos.

In turn, these videos or photos are displayed on the victim’s screen, followed by threats of exposure of the explicit content on websites, unless they agree to send the perpetrator money.

Most related offenders are from the Philippines, according to Naval Criminal Investigative Services.

According to an NCIS article, blackmail extortion prices could vary from $150-1,000. Confronted with this situation, the victim should not pay, and, instead, contact their station NCIS office.

According to Garrett Waugh, the supervisory special agent of NCIS at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, the perpetrator will stop if the victim ignores them and does not give motive for the offender to continue.


Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to try and force the recipient to do something, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.

Some tips to avoid cyberbullying, available at http://www.marbellafamilyfun.com, include: never post personal information, avoid being gullible, don’t respond to an angry message with anger and never open messages from strangers.

According to http://newsroom.fb.com, in September 2014, Facebook acquired an average of 1.35 billion monthly active users.

Approximately 54% of the youth population out of the 1.35 billion users admitted being a victim of cyberbullying in a recent poll, making Facebook the most egregious cyberbullying site.

In an Oct. 16, 2013, usatoday.com article, Florida officials charged two girls, ages 12 and 14, with aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony.

The two girls were accused of cyberbullying another 12-year-old girl until she committed suicide.

Damage to Reputation

Although Americans are granted freedom of speech under the First Amendment, social media posts can impact future employment.

Though impacts can be positive or negative, certain jobs look for key indicators that show a sense of irresponsibility, immaturity or liability, according to Waugh.

For example, Waugh said, when applying for NCIS, the organization will research the applicants’ Facebook history and other social media site profiles. What they find, pictures and statuses included, could be the determining factor in accepting or denying employment.

Operational Security and Mission Compromise

According to http://www.opsecprofessionals.org, OPSEC is an analytic process used to deny adversaries information – generally unclassified – concerning friendly intentions and capabilities by identifying, controlling and protecting information and other indicators associated with planning processes or operations.

One should refrain from posting comments or information regarding troop movements, according to Gunnery Sgt. Ibidayo Dawodu the station OPSEC manager. To include, but not limited to, topics such as when someone goes to work or what they do at work.

“I expect continuous action out of the section leaders to ensure they emphasize more about how to mitigate possible risks caused by their personnel,” said Dawodu.

An abcnews.go.com article from March 4, 2010, claimed the Israeli military canceled an operation due to a soldiers post on Facebook.

The soldier was promptly arrested and placed in custody for 10 days before being forced to permanently leave his unit for revealing sensitive OPSEC information.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is the gaining of a person’s personal information to obtain credit, loans or other personal goods.

A few good ways to prevent identity theft, available at http://www.wikihow.com, include: be alert during online shopping, watch out for phishing scams, be aware of shoulder surfers when using ATMs, update computers with anti-virus software, carry wallets in front pockets to reduce the risk of getting pick-pocketed and shred all valuable documents.

Phishing is the practice of sending fraudulent e-mails claiming to be a reputable company to influence a person to reveal personal information, e.g. passwords and credit card numbers, online.

Shoulder surfers are defined as those that glance over shoulders to try and get a glimpse of bank account balances, or pin numbers.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice

The following UCMJ articles apply to social media and can be applied against offenders in a court martial hearing depending on the specific crime or infraction.

· Article 82, solicitation.

· Article 88, contempt toward an official.

· Article 89, disrespect toward a commissioned officer.

· Article 93, cruelty and maltreatment.

· Article 120c, rewritten June 28, 2012, indecent viewing, broadcasting and indecent exposure.

Indecent viewing pertains to a person viewing the private parts of another person without their consent. For example, taking pictures up a woman’s skirt in a mall, or another public area, according to Capt. Eliot V. Rasmussen, the deputy Staff Judge Advocate.

Broadcasting is described as the distribution of indecent photos, videos or the live-streaming of another person’s private parts without their knowledge and/or consent, according to Rasmussen.

· Article 134 states a person can be charged with the following as a result of social media: child endangerment, child pornography, disorderly conduct, fraternization, adultery, indecent exposure and communicating a threat, to name a few.

Child pornography is committed as easily as someone sharing a nude picture of an underage girlfriend or boyfriend with others. All who view this photo could also potentially be charged with child pornography, with or without the knowledge the person in the photo is underage, according to Rasmussen.

The common denominator of each article stated above is the possibility of being charged if not careful when using social media.

Avoiding sticky situations

According to Waugh, the most effective key to avoiding all the above situations is, “prevention.”

“You should never chat with anybody online that you don’t know personally,” said Waugh. “And, you should verify that it’s really the person you’re chatting with.”

Waugh suggested if a person is chatting with anyone online that they do not know personally, try and arrange a Skype call.

According to Waugh, perpetrators will often Skype, while claiming to have a broken microphone. This is typically a key indicator the video being viewed is prerecorded. Perpetrators do this with the intent of entrancing unsuspecting victims.

When it comes to violating articles of the UCMJ, a common belief is that the articles conflict with First Amendment rights, specifically freedom of speech.

When trying to determine the gray-area between the First Amendment and the UCMJ, base actions off of, “if you are in an office and you wouldn’t say something around your higher-ups, then don’t post it on social media, or say it elsewhere,” according to Rasmussen.

Victims of a social media crime should contact their local NCIS or SJA office.

Tags: Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Base Info
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