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The Social Corps: Marine Corps issues social media guidelines

October 4, 2011

Recently we blogged about how the U.S. Navy has embraced social media to help influence public opinion.  Now the U.S. Marine Corps is doing the same.

The Marine Corps last week issued the first comprehensive set of social media principles for its members – two years after it banned social media use by its personnel. Like the Navy before it, the Corps is recognizing that the benefits of social media outweigh the risks.

The guidelines, embodied in a document called “The Social Corps”, can be read here.   They address some thought-provoking questions, such as:

  • Is it appropriate to “follow” those you lead?
  • Should you “friend” a subordinate online?
It also includes these principles:
  • The Corps respects the rights of Marines to use blogs and social media as a means of self-expression or to further explain the Marine Corps story.
  • Marines must not “spin” stories or information in order to deliberately mislead the public.
  • Security of operations and personnel must be considered before providing information online.
  • The family members of Marines must also be considerate of operational security and not release sensitive information online, such as the specific location of their loved one’s unit.
This couldn’t have been an easy decision for the Marine Corps. Any organization that embraces social media surrenders some control over its message and the Marine Corps has never been in the business of surrendering anything.  But as The Social Corps document states, the best way to communicate online is the way Marines communicate in person, “using sound judgement and common sense, and adhering to Corps’ values of honor, courage and commitment.”


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