Social media use in the Armed Forces


  • Henrik Karlzén

Publish date: 2013-06-14

Report number: FOI-R--3674--SE

Pages: 36

Written in: Swedish


  • social media
  • social networks
  • questionnaire
  • policy
  • open-source
  • intelligence
  • charting
  • location information
  • Armed Forces.


Social media is increasingly being used to communicate and the trend is that more recent information is published, often in conjunction with location information. This means that the value of information increases and becomes more sensitive in terms of the ability of adversaries to chart individuals and the organisation. Technological advances concerning automation also means that less powerful actors can benefit from the information. This report presents the results of a survey conducted in the Armed Forces to establish the employees' habits regarding, and perceptions of, social media. The results indicate that the respondents have good access to social media on duty, often via mobile devices. The survey responses indicate that passive use is definitely the most common but also active participation with information input takes place. Social media is seen as important for the Armed Forces, both for operational and recruitment purposes. The guidelines for use are not very well known and the respondents' risk assessments vary. The difference between guidelines and actual use should reasonably be minimised through education and clarification. Future work should reveal whether increased control mechanisms are necessary and if the Armed Forces should collect open-source intelligence through social media.