What Military Spouses Should Know About PERSEC and How to Stay Safe Online
Social media is an amazing thing. We didn’t always have it. I remember when we first got the internet. I was 16 years old, and the idea that I could talk with people in other parts of the country and world was amazing to me. I could log on and start chatting with someone from Texas, even though I was in California.
Social media has evolved over the years and is now an important part of our military life experience. We talk with our spouses on social media when they are overseas, we make military spouse friends through groups and pages, and we stay in contact with family and friends.
Social media is a good thing, but we need to have limits, especially as military spouses.
OPSEC (Operations Security) is an important part of staying safe. There are certain things you simply can not say on social media. Learning about OPSEC is essential for any military spouse.
Beyond OPSEC is PERSEC. PERSEC isn’t as strict as OPSEC and is up to each military service member and their families to figure out what to say and what not to say.
PERSEC stands for Personal Security and is staying safe, especially when posting online.
Rank and other details
As a rule, don’t share your service member’s rank. If you are posting a photo in uniform, put a sticker over the rank. Facebook makes this pretty easy these days. Sharing rank can be more information than you want to give out. You never know who is going to read your post or see your photos, even if you do share them privately.
Be wise about sharing your location. Since we as military spouses want to find community, sharing your duty station is common in social media settings. In some ways, you can’t avoid doing so, especially if you connect with local pages and friends. But be wise about sharing your exact locations. Don’t share photos of your house. Don’t post your address publically.
When you go out and do things in your community, be aware of what you are posting. It is better to post about where you are after the fact. That way you can still share what you have done but without letting your location be known. Be careful about sharing your regular schedule. Posts like, “Checking in for my Tuesday yoga class” can be dangerous when you add your location.
Double check the location settings on your phone so people won’t be able to see your exact location.
Check your privacy settings. On Facebook, go into your settings and make sure what you are sharing publically is what you want to show the world. You can do a simple check by “viewing your profile as…public.” You can also go back and make all of your previous public posts private. Do a double check on your photos. Your profile photo is always going to be public. There is no way to change that so make sure what your photo is what you want the world to see.
If you are in a lot of Facebook groups, more people are going to check out your profile page. Protect yourself by limiting what they can see. Make sure only friends can view your friend’s list. Don’t make that information public. And be very careful about who you friend online. Someone can easily pretend to be someone they are not to get personal information from you.
Sharing your life
When you are sharing your life on social media, take a moment to think about what others see. What would they be able to tell you? What would they be able to figure out about your kids? Could they figure out where they go to school? Do they know personal information about them that they shouldn’t?
Post after the fact
One tip for those who do like to share about their lives is to always post about stuff after the fact. Some people only share vacation photos after they get home. This can be one way to make sure no one knows you are not at home and that no one knows where you are.
Talk with your spouse
Most importantly, talk to your spouse about PERSEC and what they feel comfortable with. They might not want you to post anything about them on social media. They might not want you to post anything about your kids. You need to talk this over so that you are on the same page.
PERSEC can be very individual, but it’s necessary to be aware of what you are posting about on social media. Not everyone who sees what you post is a good person, and you want to stay safe.
What tips do you have about sticking to PERSEC as a military spouse?