Rethinking Communications Guidance
The Marine Corps yesterday published revised guidelines that tried to prescribe how Marines may engage in political discourse on social media. 
Noting that while Marines are free to support candidates and parties of their choice and express personal opinions, they must make clear that their thoughts and opinions do not represent official Marines Corps opinion. Similarly, Marines may friend, “like,” or follow candidates or parties, but they may not solicit others to do so. Active duty members may not participate in partisan political activities, and no employee may engage in political activity while on duty or in a federal building.
There is more to the guidance than this (because in the military, we never want to use three words when 40 will do), and some of it is contradictory. So if you’d like more information, grab a drink and a cigar, check out the Marine Corps Social Media page (for no fewer than nine—9!—Social Media Guidelines, five official Resources Guides, and eight sets of instructions for privacy settings), and then speak with your CO. She or he is going to tell you to either a) Don’t. Just Don’t; or b) go talk to Public Affairs.
This memo (and the 22 other guidance+ documents) is a perfect example of how not to roll out a communications policy. The more complex and convoluted, the less likely it’s going to be followed. And if they’re not followed, hopefully reason will break out, and the breach will be treated as a training opportunity.
 Note that this clarification memo provides very little actual clarification. Go on, read it; we’ll wait. Then come back here and tell me the author of this memo didn’t also invent the term “front-leaning rest position”! Am I right?!
Social Media Guidelines
- Marines Social Media Handbook
- DoD Social Media Guidance
- MARADMIN 173/15 – Review of Online Personal Information and Habits
- Social Media Personal Reference Guide for Marines
- Keeping Your Social Media Accounts Secure
- MARADMIN 181/10 – Responsible and Effective Use of Internet-based Capabilities
- USMC Official Social Media Operating Procedures
- ALMAR 008/17 – Social Media Guidance for Unofficial Internet Posts
- ALNAV 021/17 – U.S. Navy Regulations, 1990 Interim Change
Social Media Resources
- Department of Navy Public Affairs Policy
- Department of the Navy Public Web Site Policy
- Facebook Guide for Military Organizations
- Marine Corps Public Affairs Order
- SNS Best Practices – C4IA
- Facebook Privacy Settings
- Google+ Privacy Settings
- Instagram Privacy Settings
- LinkedIn Privacy Settings
- Pinterest Privacy Settings
- Snapchat Privacy Settings
- Twitter Privacy Settings
- YouTube Privacy Settings