Marriage, Law Enforcement, and Social Media
June 18, 2016 2:55 AM   Subscribe

My spouse works in law enforcement at the federal level. Recently, she has become increasingly paranoid about just about everything. She has told me to edit or remove some Facebook posts. She has asked me to delete an Instagram account I use for a local sports league I am involved in as well as my personal Twitter both of which are not public. She prohibits me from posting photos of our child. She demands I not post political things that might "make her look bad". I am not involved with or know with anyone she works with. Should I be upset or is this normal in the LEO world? It feels a little over-controlled and she will not discuss options or compromises. Any help would be appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (39 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Having strong opinions about posting pictures of your children is totally normal for any demographic, not just LEOs. It is fair and reasonable that a parent gets to have veto power over picture posts of minor children, even if the poster is the other parent.

However, attempting to control your private social media accounts is unreasonable and possibly abusive. Does your spouse act in other ways that are isolating or controlling? Figure out the scope of the problem and proceed accordingly.
posted by studioaudience at 3:04 AM on June 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Well, if she finds out you posted this she's going to be furious...

I don't think I'd call her stance totally normal, but it doesn't strike me as hugely out of the ordinary, especially if she has a clearance. It's tough to know who's being unreasonable here without knowing exactly what sorts of posts you're talking about, and in many cases there's no line you can draw; it's a question of individual needs for privacy and individual feelings about professionalism, controversy, and what have you. Lots of people go a little nuts with the sharing of personal information on social media, and conversely, lots of people are needlessly paranoid about social media.

If she has a clearance, I think she's not out of line in thinking that for her family, there's no such thing as a "private" social media account. Anything you do online should be considered public, even if you only share it to friends. If you're posting potentially controversial political opinions or something, I can imagine why she'd wish you would just knock it off.
posted by town of cats at 3:12 AM on June 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm not in law enforcement but I'm a 26 year employee of the DoD. We've always received training on security, but since 9/11 it's been ramped up to an absurd level. I would imagine that she gets twice as much training. Most of what we get where i work seems pretty insanely paranoid but that's just like my opinion man. She's going to continue to get training like this and it'll just get constant reinforcement. This kind of training and messaging won't ever stop, it keeps people working. Don't really have any suggestions for you, but I feel your pain, good luck.
posted by fixedgear at 3:17 AM on June 18, 2016 [13 favorites]


Recently, she has become increasingly paranoid about just about everything.
[....]
she will not discuss options or compromises.


Yes, it's weird and wrong, and I would be worried about her health. Private Twitter account and private Instagram stream? Deleting accounts?

I understand being mad about it but I think you might want to change channels and put the setting on 'concerned'. I would encourage her to talk to a medical doctor, and if this is constant and intrusive I would insist on it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:37 AM on June 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Wanted to add: it is also concerning that she has explained this inadequately. Regardless of security clearance, I think explanation of policy or recommended protocols is a reasonable expectation and it doesn't sound like she has done either one. Especially because we aren't even talking about her own accounts, and half of yours aren't even public.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:40 AM on June 18, 2016 [15 favorites]


I think your wife should discuss with you the guidelines, policies, and recommendations she's dealing with, and that she should request and explain rather than demand, but the individual items you mention don't surprise me. If I were an evildoer trying to track down information on someone and they were totally locked down on social media, I'd go to their closest family and friends to look for chinks in the armor.

One of the many online articles discussing LEO and social media says, for example: "6.) Review and manage what others share about you. This area never fails to get a big reaction in training classes. It’s one page of about a dozen items (your religion, hometown, relationship status, and the like) all checked by default that go right out the door when your friends install third-party applications. So even if you never play games on Facebook, if even one friend does and you haven’t unchecked these boxes, your data is flying away. First, don’t fill in all the personal data. Second, protect yourself from your Facebook friends by preventing them from sharing your information."

I didn't do a whole lot of searching, so that's just something from a quick scan, but really your wife should be sharing this sort of info so you can understand her position / the position of her employer better.
posted by taz at 4:12 AM on June 18, 2016 [32 favorites]


Yeah, seconding taz; I am pretty close with a few different people at very high levels of law enforcement and related fields due to where I grew up and the privacy concerns are definitely real and not very surprising.

But I've gotten the schpiel more than once over the years as social media became a thing and I'm not even related to any of them, just friends. Your wife should be able to answer why when you ask and give reasonable explanations.

Unfortunately for things like photos and political opinions the compromise seems to be keep hard copies only, don't upload things, eschew "the cloud". For me I just need to make sure I keep the politically charged statements of my friends unwritten - I can say my own thoughts wherever. Annoyingly because you're a spouse you are seen as half of a whole in this kind of situation and your opinions become her opinions by association. I don't agree with that or like it but that's the way it currently is. If she is angling for a promotion then you are likely to be part of the considerations of her superiors, including your social media presence. She should be clear with you about this and be able to give you details and goals and explanations.
posted by Mizu at 4:26 AM on June 18, 2016 [10 favorites]


One of my nephews is active-duty military assigned to the CID. Not only does his family live off-base (and any mail is to be addressed only to 'Mr./Mrs. Smith, never with his rank), he has no facebook/twitter/etc. and makes sure that anything his wife posts to her own fb page does not ever show their military/CID connections. Pics of the kids are okay, without any specific identifiers --- her facebook page is under a nickname, not their real name; they keep their 'friends' list pruned way down and limit access; and they never post the name of the base Nephew is assigned to. If you lucked into that fb page, you'd be forced to assume they're just an expat family living in x country.

It's all for security: partly because he is, yes, investigating servicemembers who might think revenge is a good idea, partly because terrorists of all stripes might consider him and his family targets. Safety first is never a bad idea in general, plus --- especially if this is something new from your wife --- perhaps she's gotten word from her employers to keep things more private, both for your family's physical safety and for her job security.
posted by easily confused at 4:33 AM on June 18, 2016 [21 favorites]


Not posting photos of the kids is entirely reasonable, for a number of reasons, including the preferences of their adult selves.

Perhaps she's recently become involved in a new area or new assignment that's generating some stress *and* that she cannot discuss with you. That, itself, adds stress.

Spouses and partners of people with security obligations have to accept that they just have to go on trust rather than expecting the kind of information the partner cannot provide.

Only you can decide if her requests are unusual and worrisome within the context of your relationship. That said, I'd suggest considering them as indicators of potential stress and dealing with that, rather than demanding some kind of specific explanation that she very likely can't provide.

Also, don't overestimate the "privacy" of "private" social media. It's all sitting in the same systems with all the "public" stuff. You're trusting that Facebook or Twitter or anyone else are using techniques that will prevent compromise of their systems, that will protect your "private" data in the event of a compromise, and will ensure that those protections remain in place in perpetuity.

If, for some reason, there is concern about either of you being specifically targeted by competent people, rather than folks siphoning off entire databases, then it's pretty much a different ball game entirely.
posted by justcorbly at 4:36 AM on June 18, 2016 [12 favorites]


Hi, I work for the government though not in law enforcement. I'm very cautious about what I post online- the political stuff would definitely be a concern as would the kid pics. Mr. Arnicae has a few accounts that are not immediately associated with him, and posts whatever he'd like there. Does your wife know much about social media, OP? If not, this might be a "lock the box" reaction to something she's observing at work.

I'm also curious if this behavior feels like a trend and seems like controlling behavior in other aspects of your life. Is this am outlier or a trend?
posted by arnicae at 4:47 AM on June 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Fire, not LEO, but have friends in Law Enforcement at local, state, and federal levels. I have seen more people put on probation or lose jobs from online postings. They can be used as a justification for almost anything, especially in a right-to-work state. I have no social media accounts anymore and haven't for years; I am active here, and that's it. I have a personal email address that I use for most things and keep my professional email addresses for work-related information only. I do not surf anything at all except local news and the like at work; I use my data on my phone to do anything else. I don't let friends post photos of me to social media. Someone in some higher position knows what their employees are doing online. I take the view that if you want to get up with me, you have my phone number or know where I live.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 6:18 AM on June 18, 2016 [14 favorites]


Not sure if I'm adding anything except another data point. My best friend outside my family is an FBI agent. He has similar views (of course, they don't affect me the same, because I'm not family).

It seems abnormal, but a few reasons (probably repeats of some listed above):

- a fed LEO or military officer can get a lot of questions about security clearance renewal based on the activities of their associates, especially family.

- they're just highly trained about secrecy and compartmentalization, and I think it's just far more effort to decide if certain things are okay than it is to just make blanket decisions. In this respect (just easier to make blanket decisions) they resemble religious fundamentalists, which is how I was raised, so I can understand this even if it seems weird or unnecessary. IOW most of us frankly reveal more than we realize on social media; to paraphrase Agent K from MiB we get on with our happy lives because we do. not. know. If you're Bob from accounting the stakes are a lot lower.

- they've probably cracked and scrambled the privacy of enough bad guys who thought they were playing it cool to know how thin the shell is. As in, figure out where someone is staying because they posted a picture and forgot to delete the geolocation tags. Piece together where someone works, goes to church, and/or where someone lives based on their friends (and their friend's friends). In this respect social media is like the safe sex lectures of a few years back - your privacy can be blown not just by what you do, or even what your friends do, but what their friends do.

- you know that one time you had some creeper take an abnormal interest in you, or become angry and follow you out to the parking lot, or you cut someone off in traffic and they followed you blowing the horn for five miles? You know how it made you paranoid for a week, hoping you didn't run into that person again? Now imagine that most of the people you're interacting with in the public are people you're investigating, with a view to sending them or someone they know to prison... my friend investigates corrupt law enforcement officials as part of his job, and some people from that department he was checking on drove out to his home in a bunch of SUVs and drove around on his property just to show they knew where he lived...

So TL;DR, it's not abnormal per se. The part about her not being willing to talk or compromise is not good, but it may be that something particularly stressful is going down, or it may be that you struck her as having a scoffing attitude (like the one I hear when I try to talk to people about IT security on their websites...), which caused her to shut down.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:51 AM on June 18, 2016 [10 favorites]


I agree she could talk about it with you more, but overall I can understand her concerns. I resist posting photos of my kids on social media and I'm not LEO or anything like that, I just think it's largely unnecessary and I'm deeply aware that even "private" accounts are accessible.
There was a tragedy in my area recently where a fbi agent's family car was shot at while they were driving on a crowded interstate and the agent's wife was killed. If I heard about that and I was your wife, I'd be justified in trying to keep my family's identity as private as possible.
posted by areaperson at 6:59 AM on June 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm going to defend your wife a little. I think it's troublesome that social media grew so fast that people didn't have time to stop and think before the new norm became showing private pictures online regularly, and if you don't do that, or don't want your spouse to do it- then you are the one who is in the wrong. My husband and I, luckily, agree we don't share our pics of our kids online- nor do we maintain active profiles. A lot of that is due to feeling concerned about the role of Google and Facebook and Instagram- a bad experience with a former "friend" and a desire to protect our privacy and the feeling that our children own their image even if they are small. 25 years ago my mother never would have sent a picture a week of me out to friends and family, this is a huge cultural change. Maybe it's not such a good thing that people expect that now! If I feel that way, I can only imagine how someone like your wife would feel if she felt she had a vulnerability. Ps- Facebook also made it near impossible to close my account- then I definitely knew I was doing the right thing!
posted by catspajammies at 7:46 AM on June 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


It is a dangerous world right now and she is in the thick of it. Her behavior towards your social media seems somewhat normal but, you are married and, for all we know, this could be her red roses. She could be saying to herself, "If he just loved me more he would respect my feelings and put me ahead of social media by not posting anything at all." We don't know. She does. Talk to her and put her first. And ask her to help you come up with family guidelines for social media, because you will have to explain these same rules to your child in a few years. The two of you need to be a united front.
posted by myselfasme at 7:46 AM on June 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


My sister is in a manager/admin role with state law enforcement and she's pretty serious about keeping her outward-facing social media totally unidentifiable and/or totally tame. She's also anxious and so sometimes (in my opinion only) can maybe overreach what is necessary for her job because it's just something that she's anxious about.

It's also, by her admission, a lot tougher for women LEOs because people already have unwarranted opinions of them as being less fit for the jobs just because they are female, so she may be feeling some of that pressure and is trying to be the perfect LEO which means totally scrubbed social media and very little (if any) political posting. LEOs where my sister works are quite conservative Trump-voting types and so even something that might seem like a pretty tame "Hey Hillary did a thing!"could potentially be issues. I agree with other people that "no kid pictures" is a thing that a lot of people do and seems more normal to me.

But a locked Twitter account and fun sports Instagram account? Those seem like decent compromises (as long as you're not going on political rants in those places. I think it's worth having a conversation with her about this where you basically tell her that you don't think it's okay for her to control you in (some of) these ways and see if you can find a balance. But it's hard to tell from your question if you want someone to complain about politics online and, if that's the case, that just may not be a thing you get if your wife is a LEO and to that point I think it's if not okay at least understandable that she is asking you to do this.
posted by jessamyn at 8:03 AM on June 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


It is much easier to dox people than you might think, and something like a post by a family member about a local sports league can be key to uncovering personal information about someone.

I'd be pretty bothered, too, if my husband were posting on social media about his (and by extension my) private life; and I have been bothered in the past by others who've shared stuff about me on social media without permission, and I'm not in law enforcement or anything like that. People often don't even think in terms of protecting their personal information, so they're oblivious to what they share about others.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:04 AM on June 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


The "will not discuss" part is what would have me concerned.
posted by Skipjack at 8:23 AM on June 18, 2016 [11 favorites]


I think it sounds totally within the realm of what is required of her. It would be nice if she'd explain more fully and kindly, but I don't know how receptive you've been to her explanation. (She may even have been told not to explain her work guidelines to anyone outside the organization; they may not want to talk about security issues externally.) Your sports league stuff (for instance) has all kinds of clues about your family's whereabouts, and you may think it's locked down to your friends, but you don't really have any idea of how safely held that database is or even who your friends casually share information with.

Yeah, I really think you should not fight her on this.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:26 AM on June 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Her requests may be reasonable but making them into demands and not being willing to discuss or explain are not.
posted by rtha at 9:04 AM on June 18, 2016 [9 favorites]


> Yeah, I really think you should not fight her on this.

Nobody's "fighting" anybody, but it is not normal for spouses to just suddenly say "Delete your online presence, and I'm not going to discuss the reasons." That's not what marriage is about, and the poster is rightfully concerned, whatever the (IMO demented) demands and expectations of law enforcement.
posted by languagehat at 9:18 AM on June 18, 2016 [19 favorites]


What randomkeystrike said about seeing how their agency has used social media against people and saying "there but for the Grace of God go I." I mean, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are doing double duty as targeting algorithms for the military and CIA all around the world, and at home a shocking percentage of young mopes in jail on drug or weapons charges are there because their social media confessed their crime or allowed their buddies to implicate them in it.

In and of itself, the politics thing is probably overdone as a worry. There are restrictions on being active parts of campaign, or going to rallies -- but no rank and file LEO or military person is getting into trouble for posting in support of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump on their personal facebook account. (People with ambitions for executive promotions probably would keep quiet about it for obvious reasons, though.)
posted by MattD at 9:52 AM on June 18, 2016


The "will not discuss" part is what would have me concerned.

When you are married to someone with a security clearance, there are things they cannot discuss with you.

If your spouse is doing work where their life is potentially in danger simply because they have the job, it is not "paranoia" for them to believe your casual, devil-may-care online activities are potentially dangerous to them. The things you do can not only harm her career but also put her life in danger.

In WW2, we had the saying "Loose lips sink ships." This was not a saying we merely inculcated military members with. It was advertised broadly to all civilians.

If you did not grow up in a family where some things Are Just Not Done, this may be a difficult mental shift for you. If you want to remain married to this person, see them continue to be alive and well and see them continue on in their present career path, you really need to make more of an effort to make the mental shift involved.

That doesn't mean you cannot have a social media presence. It does mean you need to become a lot more educated about what is and is not a problem for your spouse so that your activities are not a serious threat to her safety.

Pics of the kids should not be posted online anyway. But in this case, pics of the kids create the danger that your children may be targeted as a means to get to her. You making this easily possible can potentially cost her the security clearance she needs to do her job.

I spoke to a relative once about their debriefing following drama in their personal life. The federal government does not care if you do x, y, or z. They care if you doing x, y or z in any way makes you a security risk.

So, to take a hypothetical example: The existence of nude photos of you is not a problem if, like Madonna, your response to them being leaked will be "So what?" It is a problem if threat of publishing them is a means to blackmail you because you so desperately want it not known.

Please have a come to Jesus moment and realize that your wife's job puts her life at risk 24/7, not just when she is on the clock. Try to get yourself better educated about what is a potential problem for her. I am guessing you are a walking, talking information security disaster zone and have no idea. Because it makes me cringe so hard that you think posting pics of the kids is okay. I bet that is just the tip of the iceberg and her strong reactions are totally merited.
posted by Spanish Ash at 10:32 AM on June 18, 2016 [13 favorites]


I don't think we have enough info here to make an assessment. I don't know what her job is, how closely she's scrutinized, what other people in her line of work have gotten in hot water for. We don't know what sorts of political things you post, or what you've said to her when you bring this up.

It seems to me this could be a situation where there are no "compromises" and she just needs you to understand that and go along without making things difficult for her. Nothing on the Internet is private and untraceable! Particularly if you're under federal scrutiny. Frankly I think the decision not to post pics of your children is more and more common and understandable, even admirable, regardless of job. And it makes sense that she may have to be seen as politically neutral.

I really can't tell if this is reasonable and you're continually undermining her professional needs, or whether she's paranoid and controlling. If those latter characteristics dominate her other interactions with you, that's another story, but we don't have examples of paranoid or controlling behavior outside of what seems reasonable for her work. From what you've told us, one could conclude she's told you what she needs from you and you've repeatedly disrespected it and acted entitled to some sort of accommodation where there is none.
posted by kapers at 10:52 AM on June 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


Seconding everyone who recommends talking to her about it and trying to get at her specific concerns. Could she be worried about retaliation from specific crime groups from drug cartels? Is she worried about locations/personal details being revealed or about looking bad?

For example, the sports league Instagram seems innocuous, but if it's under your own name, that could be the first place someone goes to check for details about her. It could show a regular time and place where she may be in the audience or when your family is away from your house, or it could show photos of her drinking beer or engaging in other fun but misinterpreted activities.
posted by cadge at 12:06 PM on June 18, 2016


I think some of this depends on what kind of job she has -- is she a CIA agent or undercover FBI agent? Some positions are more sensitive than others and this kind of information could be more or less sensitive, too.

You said she won't discuss options or compromises, but that doesn't say to me that you've really tried to discuss this with her. First, ask her to explain her reasoning. You need to understand where she's coming from before you can hope to work out a compromise (or, who knows, you may agree with her after she explains why this is important!).

Second, well, she can't actually stop you from posting on social media. So the idea that you all won't even have a conversation about possible compromise because she doesn't want to strikes me as foolish. Unless she's jumped to "if you do this I will divorce you," there's room to have a conversation.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:47 PM on June 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


i have multiple times seen spouses of police officers say something inflammatory on social media and have all their controversial posts over the years collected together and then spammed at the department/city/state/etc accounts (and mailed, and phone calls, and open letters, etc). her method of discussing boundaries and reasons seem to be lacking, but the requests seem on point for the sort of trouble it can cause.
posted by nadawi at 1:05 PM on June 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Perhaps she's recently become involved in a new area or new assignment that's generating some stress *and* that she cannot discuss with you. That, itself, adds stress.

I just want to second this. There may be very good reasons for her to not provide you with more specific reasons.
posted by devinemissk at 3:15 PM on June 18, 2016


Please have a come to Jesus moment and realize that your wife's job puts her life at risk 24/7, not just when she is on the clock.

If that is really true, then her job is also potentially putting your and your kids’ lives on the line too, social media accounts or no. Did you sign up for that, eyes open?

If you went into this knowing that, then her demands may not be unreasonable, but if, as it seems from your question, things have changed lately then expecting you to go along without some explanation (obviously not of details and specifics, but some idea of what the general parameters are), then you are being asked to trust blindly that your interests are being properly considered with no questions or input allowed. Only you know if you are willing to give her that trust unquestioned.

Expecting spouses and children to bear the burden of an abnormal life and unknown risks without consent or question for the sake of some “important", possibly secret career has been going on for a long time; usually those doing it have been men, but it isn’t any better if it’s done by women.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 4:36 PM on June 18, 2016 [10 favorites]


I have Secret level clearance and I never worried much about the social media. Then, after the OPM breach, I never worried about it all.

We are all in the same sinking ship now.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 5:37 PM on June 18, 2016 [8 favorites]


I work for the federal government with a clearance; my husband is prominent in his own field. We both handle social media in a way that is pretty close to your wife's approach. For me, it comes from training I receive and from firsthand seeing innocuous things blow up spectacularly for peers. For my husband, it's about not messaging information that could have an undesired impact when it comes to competitors/colleagues/employees/investors.

I also have a "minimal kids on social media" policy that's unrelated to the above.
posted by whitewall at 5:30 AM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, if they cannot discuss it with you, they cannot discuss with you the fact that they cannot discuss it with you because that would be discussing it with you.

They should not ever tell you "That's classified" or "All the stuff I do is Black Ops." You, as the civilian spouse, do not have a security clearance and you are not authorized to know that. If they are saying things like that to you, be very afraid and consider divorcing them. They aren't safe to be around.

If you can get hold of copies of the TV show Major Dad, there are some excellent episodes that show his new civilian wife having trouble accepting the expectation that he simply cannot explain himself at times. In one episode, IIRC, she is getting really pissed off that he won't leave the house to go do social things and keeps making excuses. Some military brat teen finally clues her that he must be on alert, is required to stay near the phone and also cannot tell her that.

Generally speaking, you should avoid saying anything online, even "privately," that would cast light on her comings and goings, her physical location, her rank, or her work activities of any kind. This includes not commenting on the type of uniform she wears, what hours she is working, dates she left or will leave or returned or is expected to return from TDY, that she is late again for dinner, that she is working long hours, that she is traveling more than usual, that she is grumpy and short tempered and you two are mysteriously fighting more than usual. All of those things are potentially hints that she is hip deep in something important and people who gather intelligence will keep files and put together two or more statements that seemed innocuous enough to you when you stated them as separate details about your life.

Divorcing her does not entirely secure the safety of you and your children, nor does it absolve you of a moral and practical imperative to keep your mouth shut about certain things. Even if you do not care if she gets killed, you should be concerned for your own safety, the safety of your children and national security of the country in which you reside or are a citizen of.

Risks and burdens tend to go up with promotions and special duty assignments. So does pay and perks. This is generally true of any job, even those where your life is not likely to be on the line. For jobs that are a matter of life and death, promotions come with a great deal of expectation that the family unit as a whole can play nicely with the expectation to lie low, not mouth off about politics and so on.

Freedom is paid for with the blood of patriots. The people suggesting this is an undue and unreasonable burden that you did not sign up for get to have such cavalier attitudes because of the thousands of Americans keeping this country safe by taking jobs that put their lives in the line of fire. Without that, well, read international news sometime about countries racked by civil war, armed bands roaming the countryside raping and pillaging and so on.

Thank your wife for me sometime.
posted by Spanish Ash at 1:25 PM on June 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I have noticed that fear for my (and my loved one's) safety is a great barometer of stress for me. Some days it is all good, other days I want to arm myself and secure the house. Asking you to limit your (public) political opinions might be a way of her trying to minimize her stress. I don't know what branch of law enforcement she is in but I can say some police culture can be like high school. If I spoke my mind at work I would be in constant conflict with talk radio parrots who would bait me all day ( and I live in a pretty liberal area).
posted by InkaLomax at 7:09 PM on June 19, 2016


In a marriage, which should ideally be a partnership and not a dictatorship, one's spouse should be willing to discuss options and generalities, even if they cannot discuss exact particulars of whys and wherefores. She may not be able to tell you why [these kinds of posts] would be best not posted, but if she won't even discuss what categories of things might not be kosher - so that you, the spouse, can think ahead and use your judgement and so on - then I think that isn't great.

There are probably categories of things like:
- no posts that hint where we live
- where the kid goes to school/daycare
- when she is out of town or where
- regular times when the house might be empty
- regular routes you take from home to [other places you go a lot]
- legal but potentially embarrassing drunken shenanigans

that she can outline and discuss with you about what's okay to post where/when/etc. For instance, what was it about the Instagram account that might have made it a potential security risk? Given the centrality of social media to most people's lives, it seems unfair that she gets to lock down everything you may do online without discussion, and you don't have to accept the no-discussion part. She signed up for something with security clearance and stringent rules; you probably didn't do exactly that. This is not the first time this has come up in a relationship, so neither of you likely has to reinvent the wheel here.
posted by rtha at 8:10 PM on June 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


This thread made me curious, so I googled "social media FBI family" and got this link. As far as I can tell it's just guidance for the general public, and it includes this:

"Be thoughtful and limit personal information you share such as job titles, locations, hobbies, likes and dislikes, or names and details of family members, friends, and co-workers."

So, if the FBI thinks that these are reasonable limits for the average person, I imagine its agents get an even more draconian version of that directive. Not sure what agency your wife works for, of course, but it's something to keep in mind and might explain things like the sports Instagram account.

It's hard to say more without knowing what work she does and what kind of info you're sharing. I'm regularly appalled at the amount of personal information people blithely share online--not from a security POV but just a "gah, this is stuff I only share MAYBE with a close friend or two." Then again, I'm someone who thinks it's none of Facebook's damn business what my relationship status is, and that's breakup territory for some on MeFi, so YMMV. (Although even I'm not as private as the FBI suggests being...)
posted by tiger tiger at 5:22 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I work for a large corporation and the guidelines are fairly similar. In addition, it's part of my employment contract that my employer can, at any time, demand that I post things for the company to my personal social media accounts. I went through a fairly large scrubbing of my online presence when I joined the company, and have done my best keep things pretty clean since then.

My partner isn't really on social media, but if he was, I'd be asking him to do similar things as what your wife is asking of you.

That said, I can discuss why, and I can verbalize the repercussions his actions could have on me. A few questions for you to consider:

1) Are you listening to her to hear her, or are you listening to gather debate rebuttal material? There's a big difference, and readily comes across during the conversation. If she feels that you are not taking her seriously, or not even willing to discuss it other than to blow off her concerns, I can see her refusing to go further in her explanations. It's really frustrating to try to talk to a partner who has already decided your concerns are invalid. I'm not saying you're doing this, but it might be worth a quick check in with yourself before your next conversation with her on the topic.

2) What do you lose if you get rid of or scrub these accounts? It's a legit question to contemplate, even if you decide to keep them. Understanding your rationale in having the accounts can help you understand yourself and your general social needs. I haven't deleted some social media accounts because I use them to keep in very light touch with people I don't otherwise see anymore. As I move up in the corporate hierarchy, I'll need to balance whether keeping the accounts is worth the risk - or if I can move to other forms of communication, or planning to see them in person, or whatever.
posted by RogueTech at 8:11 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I worked for the feds for 10 years and became friendly with some U.S. Marshals. It is pretty much impossible to find them or their spouses online as a result of their career path. Whatever you say online gets imputed to your wife, which is probably why she is having issues with political posts. Federal judges have told me that it's easier to be confirmed as an unmarried person because the spouse has to be "confirmed" too. If they've said something remotely controversial online, it all comes out. It is not hard to subpoena or otherwise obtain your doings out in the online mobile world. Consequently, setting your privacy settings to "non-public" is no guarantee of privacy, so the setting is not going to allay her concerns.

Federal law enforcement has prioritized child pornography and fraud enforcement in the recent past. In these settings, it is a given that you not post pictures of your children online or details about your life.

She should talk to you about the reasons why this is unless it's related to something classified. But it's not unusual, no.
posted by *s at 8:44 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I just went back and reread the OP's posting and wanted to point out that specifically what she will not discuss is "options and compromises" and not necessarily reasons although a lot of us are responding as though it's the latter. If she's refusing to discuss options and compromises, it may be because there aren't any.

I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly what form these conversations are taking and it seems others are too, and I can't help wondering along with Rogue Tech if they are taking the form outlined there.
posted by tiger tiger at 8:56 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hi, I represent a lot of federal LEO. I don't know the full situation--it truly depends on the work. Sometimes folks get PTSD as well. Feel free to message me on the site or send me an E-mail message if you want to share some more info.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:07 PM on June 21, 2016


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