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Alert to LGBT Service Members: Know Risks of Social Networking

Washington, D.C. – Based on an increase in the number of DADT investigations stemming from social networking sites, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) reminds LGBT service members that any admission of sexual orientation on sites like Facebook and MySpace may result in their discharge under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

“We’re continuing to see Facebook and other social networking sites being used as tools of vengeance to out service members,” said Aaron Tax, SLDN Legal Director. “LGBT service members should NOT post their sexual orientation, or anything hinting at it, on any social networking site (or anywhere online). Such statements can and are used as the basis for initiating a discharge under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”

If members of the military choose to identify their sexual orientation in an online profile or other virtual space, they should use a pseudonym or fake screen name and should not post their picture to avoid disclosing their identity. Additionally, users can make their webpage private or restrict access to it.

Below is a complete list of guidelines regarding online use for those serving under DADT.

• DO NOT use a military email address for your profile;
• DO NOT access LGBT sites through a military computer at any time, or even through a personal computer during duty hours;
• DO NOT mention the fact that you are in the military in your personal profile, in chat rooms or other online forums;
• DO NOT provide photographs - especially not in uniform - or descriptions of tattoos or other identifying information;
• DO NOT tell friends in the military that you have a profile with a LGBT site;
• DO NOT submit your profile to be a "featured member;"
• DO NOT use any video-chat features.

Service members who have questions about online communication or need legal assistance can contact SLDN's legal department at 202-328-3244 x 100 or legal@sldn.org.