Soldier! Tone down your civilian social media habit. That’s an order.

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The dangers of the social web scene are no longer confined to celebrities sending out tweets without thinking. Soldiers now face the risk that their latest tweet, comment or check-in could affect the rule of law and, at its most extreme, could cost lives. 

The Ministry of Defence is taking a huge leap into the digital age by warning British armed forces of the risks of sharing too much information on social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook.  The MoD’s latest ‘Think before you…’ campaign on YouTube highlights the dangers of servicemen and their families posting seemingly innocent status updates only to reveal confidential information online. 

This move comes as Joanne Fraill, a woman who sat on a jury last year in a drugs trial, faces prison for contempt of court after she came clean on contacting acquitted defendant, Jamie Sewart.  The jury was in the middle of determining the charges against other defendants and the 30-minute Facebook conversation led to them being discharged, causing the case to collapse at a cost in the region of £6 million. Millions of pounds for a 30-minute Facebook chat!  Careless talk also costs money. Lots of it!

With that in mind, this initiative from the MoD makes perfect sense. It isn’t looking to gag troops completely and recognises that these sites are ‘great for keeping in touch with friends and family and letting the world know what you are up to.’ But, as the WW II posters said: ‘careless talk costs lives.’

This was good advice back then and it remains good advice today.  Go ahead and educate our British soldiers.  Don’t educate our celebrities though; it’s far too entertaining…