DCN delivers firm social media warning

Published on LEUT Sarah West (author)

A member of the Royal Australian Navy uses Facebook. (photo: Petty Officer Paul Berry)
A member of the Royal Australian Navy uses Facebook.

The Deputy Chief of Navy has reinforced the responsibilities of Royal Australian Navy members when using social media in a signal he released to all personnel on Friday.

“One inappropriate or careless comment on social media has the ability to undermine Navy’s significant achievements, taint and distort the public view of all Navy personnel, and require a disproportionate effort to redress,” the signal said.

“The Australian Defence Force policy on the use of social media requires that personnel must not post material that is offensive towards any person or group based on personal traits, attributes, beliefs or practices that exploit, objectify or are derogatory of gender, ethnicity or religion,” wrote Deputy Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Michael van Balen. 

His comments asserted that the ADF policy referred to all activity on social media networks, including the posting of images and comments, ‘liking’ or being a member of offensive or derogatory groups, and posting or commenting on pages owned by such groups.

“Living Navy Values extends to social media. Identifiable membership, endorsement and/or ‘like’ of a group or site which espouses views inconsistent with Navy Values and signature behaviours is inappropriate and may constitute an offence that may result in disciplinary and/or administrative action,” wrote RADM van Balen.  

“The consequences of such an offence can be as severe as dismissal from the Navy,” he warned.  

The signal urged serving members to be vigilant in monitoring their social media profiles.

“Individuals can be added to a social media group, by another person, without their consent. It behoves everyone to remain vigilant to ensure their social media activity is compliant with the Defence policy on the use of social media,” DCN said. 

Royal Australian Navy personnel receive annual awareness training on Defence social media policies. All personnel are required to adhere to the Navy values of Honour, Honesty, Courage, Integrity and Loyalty in all aspects of their lives, including their online presence.