First Prize, General Prize Essay Contest
Official social media use in the U.S. armed forces is in its infancy. Units across the globe have embraced the technology to varying degrees to connect service members to families, units to surrounding communities, and the services themselves to wide swaths of potential young recruits. This limited sanctioned use stands in stark contrast to almost ubiquitous personal social media use by service members, especially those in the lower ranks. There have been many operational security issues, ethical questions, and personnel problems in the gray areas where official and personal social media use collide, leading decision makers to wonder if social media is worth the headaches it has created.