Story and photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo

Whether Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis work on the flight deck, the mess decks or in reactor spaces, it’s an all hands mission to protect each other, and the same is true on social networking sites.

Sailors actively use sites like Facebook and Twitter to communicate with peers and family, and Stennis’ network security administrators rely heavily on the responsible activity of each Sailor who carefully uses them.

“Social networking is a great tool, but a lot of people don’t understand the consequences of using it inappropriately,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Eric Ebe, Stennis’ network security officer.

When posting personal information, Ebe warns that Sailors can put themselves, their families and their shipmates at risk.

“Anybody can gather information about you and your friends,” said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Omar Hernandez, one of Stennis’ automated data processing help desk technicians.

Operational security is critical to the mission and safety of Sailors, said Hernandez. Sailors should not post sensitive information like deployment dates, kinds of weapons on the ship, and names of other Sailors. Any information posted to social networking sites can potentially be used to cause harm.

“Everything fits into a larger piece of the puzzle, said Ebe. “It’s the little things that count.”

Some applications on social networking sites can update Sailors’ exact location. Strangers can use that information to track them down and thieves can figure out they’re not home, said Ebe.

“It’s almost like putting up a sign saying ‘I’m not home, please rob me,” said Ebe. “All of this can be stopped if Sailors just change their privacy settings.”

Hernandez said it is also important for Sailors to be selective about whom they add as friends, especially if they don’t know them. People can send spam, malicious links and hack Sailors’ accounts to get further information about them. “Think twice about what you post, because once you post it, you can’t remove it,” said Hernandez.

For further information about the appropriate use of social networking sites, Sailors can visit Navy Knowledge Online at Operational security is critical to protecting Sailors, the families and the successful accomplishment of mission requirements.