WASHINGTON – Military leaders have extolled social media sites as a way for deployed troops to keep in touch with families back home, but they also have issued strict warnings over the years about what information gets released there. Expect this story to enter the next “what not to do” round of training:
Ariell Taylor-Brown learned her husband, the father of her two daughters, was killed in Afghanistan last week when another soldier from his unit posted on her Facebook page that there was an emergency.
According to the Ohio NBC-TV (Channel 4) report, the death report wasn’t posted on the site, but that emergency message and a subsequent phone call gave Taylor-Brown the information hours before Army officials could send grief counselors to her home. The pregnant widow said it was “a horrible way for me to find out.”
In an effort to avoid that situation, officials with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit earlier this week took their Facebook page down for a day after the crash of a V-22 Osprey in Morocco, in which two Marines were killed. On Thursday, they posted this message online:
Family and Friends of 24th MEU - We thank you for your patience and support during this difficult time. We unpublished our page out of respect for the proper release of information to the families that lost a Marine. We are back online now and will continue to update you. Thank you for your support.
The site still makes no official mention of the accident or the deaths, although friends and family of unit members have left pages of condolences on the unit’s wall.