"Loose Tweets Sink Fleets" - What Government Contractors Should Include In Their Social Media Policy

“Loose tweets sink fleets” is a new twist on a familiar saying. It is also borrowed from the Navy Command Social Media Handbook issued October 15, 2010. The Navy appreciates that social media is widely used, and that a ban on social media is not the answer. Trying to turn a blind eye to the use of social media, or banning its use in the workplace is naive. Whether they are doing it at work or in their free time, people who hold security clearances, or have access to classified or sensitive information, are using Facebook to connect with friends who may be one to three degrees removed. They are connecting with other professionals on Linkedin, and sometimes tweeting about their every day activities on Twitter.

Any shred of doubt that your employees are using social media should be quickly dispelled by the following. Facebook fan pages for the military services and defense contractors number in the thousands. Some of the more popular pages include the National Guard (610,450+ fans) Marines (436,000+), US Marines in Afghanistan (20,450+), Navy (222,000+), Northrop Grumman Corporation (6,790+), and BAE Systems Land & Armaments (2,160+).

The issuance of the Navy Social Media Handbook is a good reminder that government contractors should include a social media policy in their employment manuals. Because government contracts may involve work on a classified program with employees holding security clearances, a “cookie cutter” social media policy is not enough.

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