Social Media and Security
- Blog posts about upcoming program site visits (including dates, destinations, and routes) in an area noted for banditry
- Blog posts that revealed the location of an ex-pat humanitarian worker's residence (the staff member later left the conflict zone country when a Western intelligence agency warned an abduction was being planned)
- Photos posted on a personal Web site that showed the inside of a field office (including the location of the safe)
- An interview that appeared in an online magazine where a staff member discussed the details of refugee camp security measures
- A Facebook page belonging to an ex-pat staff member working in a Muslim country that contained culturally insensitive photos and comments
To reduce exposure to possible consequences, a good social media policy that spells out what is acceptable online behavior is a must. In tandem, educating staff about some of the risks to themselves and their colleagues from unmindful use of social media is also essential
This falls more into a human resources versus a security responsibility within most organizations (but shouldn't stop a good security practitioner from making others aware of the risk). If your organization doesn't have a social media policy (or wants to see how others are dealing with potential issues), check out this great, free resource that provides a database of over 170 social media policies from business, non-profit, and government.
Postscript: While on the subject of social media. The Mexican drug cartels are increasing their attacks on bloggers. Listen to a recent NPR story and see this news account about a female blogger being decapitated. I wonder if this type of activity will become more widespread (in varying degrees of violence) outside of Mexico and outside of a drug cartel context. It bears watching, especially in developing country conflict zones where actors' Internet savvy is often significantly underestimated. 9/27/11 - It's not just cartels putting the squeeze on bloggers. The State of Veracruz just passed a law that makes social media illegal if it undermines public order.