Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Social Media and Security Clearances

Can social media posts impact your security clearance?
It’s great to have family reunions or go out with friends and take pictures of events and the good times. We all want our friends to know how well we are doing and maybe we want to make some co-workers jealous while on vacation. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter make it possible to post your fun immediately.

Social media is a great invention and used for good, can be a rather fun way to keep up with others and allow them to keep up with you. However, such opportunities also provide epic fail situations where the poster gets in trouble at home and at work.

You may have read where school students have been suspended, military personnel have been punished and employees fired for events captured on social media. Some irresponsible postings have had reputation ruining consequences based upon perception as in the case of DeSean Jackson missing practice while posting vacation photos. Even though he had probably preplanned the event, football fans everywhere decried his bold and audacious move to vacation rather than practice.

The next time you post something negative about your work environment, the many photos with you posed with a drink in your hand, or update your relationship status for the 5th time in a week, think about this question; What happens when the security clearance investigation digs into social media?

Currently, this is an issue being discussed in shadows and whispers. The possibility of adding social media to the investigation docket may be coming. Per a study into the Navy Shipyard shooting[1], one DoD agency piloted a study and determined that at least 20 percent of the 3300 individuals subject to the pilot have been identified as having information relevant to adjudication.

Remembering the 13 adjudication criteria, there are several ways we can get into trouble through our real or perceived postings. If investigators (or even co-workers) discover information relative to adjudication, you may find your clearance delayed while explaining behavior that could be perceived as reportable or derogatory information.

So, live it up, enjoy the good life that your job has provided. But think seriously about what you want to post about yourself and how you want to world to perceive you. A little good judgment keeps you out of hot water. Bad decisions could possibly hold up or deny your chances of a security clearance.

Foot note: 

[1] SECURITY FROM WITHIN, Independent Review of the Washington Navy Yard Shooting, NOVEMBER 2013

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