Lets talk about Social media safety and cell phone usage. This article is long overdue and what I am going to write about is an issue that has gone out of control! The issue at hand is privacy, and mainly privacy with using your cell phone! While standing in the post office at Walter Reed for about 30 minutes, I had the unfortunate experience of hearing a phone conversation between a specialist and her superior. The specialist was complaining about why she had not made E5. Throughout the entire conversation, she was disrespectful to her superior and everybody could hear it.
Fraud Conducted through Social Media
What has happened to our society where the phone is the epitome of one’s existence? Everyone is so into their phones and social media. Many people post everything they are doing and when and where. This is not just an issue of privacy. This is also an issue of safety. A person needs to think about social media safety. There are obviously people out there that prey and stalk people’s social media accounts to gain their personal information. They will try to use your information to steal your identity and cause you financial harm. This is especially troublesome for military people. There are people out there that will take pictures off your Facebook and create their own accounts with your images and name and use them to try to get money from others. Other people will convince you to send money to them, but everything they say is based on lies.
One of my soldiers was actually contacted through Facebook by a so-called attractive woman, and whomever it really was convinced him to send her money to come visit. Well, he did send over $800. Once he did, she lied and said she was robbed and the money he sent was stolen. She asked him to send more. That is when I was notified by his team leader what happened. We set up our own investigation, asking to do Skype calls and asking for a picture of her driver’s license or state ID, but we never got this information. This person finally told us her name by email, so we had the police look her up and found out she did not have a Florida ID of any kind. So, we told her we were notifying the FBI, and guess what, she disappeared. This all happened through my soldier’s information being on social media.
Social Media Safety Preventing Financial Loss
I am not saying that everybody out there does this, but I am saying to be careful about what you post and who has access to it. There may come a time when this or something worse happens. Back in December, someone used my credit card at Toys R Us to purchase over $600-worth of stuff, and they were dumb enough to have it all mailed to their residence in Arizona. I am very thankful that my credit card company and the Arizona police were easy to deal with because there is a ton of credit card theft and fraud happening these days. Just imagine if this was you and it was your actual bank card that had been stolen. This can cause serious financial strain for some people, especially around the holidays. There is no full-proof way to stop fraud, but there are ways to prevent it from happening to you or to somebody you know.
Yes, it is ridiculous how much we can’t do without a cell phone in our hand, but it should not control you or take over your life. Take a moment to really think about how many marriages and relationships a phone has destroyed. Then read how many kids’ lives the phone has destroyed.
Could Cutting Out Social Media Help You and Your Family?
Here is another example: prior to my deployment in 2015, I had a soldier whose son tried to commit suicide because he had been bullied on social media. I am very proud of that soldier for what he did; he took the phones away from his kids and got rid of their social media accounts. It is a shame that anyone would have to take such drastic measures because of a phone or social media.
If you go out anywhere, you’ll see it: people walking into walls or causing accidents over a text or posting something on social media. When you have dinner with your family, the children are sitting at the table engrossed with a phone and mom and dad are doing the same. Which is more important, posting when you are at dinner or finding out how your kids’ day at school was? Which is more important to you, your marriage, relationships, and your kids’ lives or social media posts?
Personal Technology in the Military
We have allowed ourselves to get caught up in technology and become more reliant on a phone than a weapon, and now each and every day we put ourselves and military security in harm’s way because of pictures or posts not thinking about social media safety. You do realize that OPSEC is of great importance. A simple picture of you and your soldiers holding weapons or sitting in a military vehicle is an OPSEC violation and can cost you your career. I suggest you quit relying on a message to communicate with your soldiers. Don’t post pictures of anything to do with the military, especially if you’re overseas. The threat is there and your social media friends can end up in danger as well once they hit “like” on a picture of you overseas.
There obviously is a time and place for a phone call or message. I just urge you to be careful about what you post and to whom you send it to. The most important thing I hope anybody who reads this learns is get back your privacy and keep military social media policy in mind. People will always look to us military members and veterans to be the examples. I ask you all to be that example and start with the small things. When you go to dinner, leave the phones at home. There may come a time when you’re overseas and don’t have the opportunity to do so. Please, protect your family and friends from the harsh world of social media and cell phones!