Army Online MisconductJuly 9, 2023
Army Online Misconduct is governed by AR 600-20, paragraph 4-19(5). The policy is as follows:
"The use of electronic communication to inflict harm. Electronic communication is the transfer of information (signs, writing, images, sounds, or data) transmitted by computer, phone or other electronic device. Electronic communications include, but are not limited to: text messages, emails, chats, instant messaging, screensavers, blogs, social media sites, electronic device applications, and Web/video conferencing. Examples of online misconduct include, but are not limited to: hazing, bullying, harassment, discriminatory harassment, stalking,
retaliation, or any other types of misconduct that undermines dignity and respect. When using electronic communication devices, Army personnel should apply “Think, Type, and Post”: “Think” about the message being communicated and who could potentially view it; “Type” a communication that is consistent with Army values; and “Post” only those messages that demonstrate dignity and respect for self and others."
This Army Online Misconduct Policy is obviously very broad and can cover a broad range of conduct, including text messages, which actually are not "online." Regardless, Soldiers need to be very careful with what they post online, including on Twitter, Threads, Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. Furthermore, Soldiers need to be very careful about their communication with others, including on all of those platforms as well as in text message. Soldiers would be wise to keep a very small online presence and never post anything that could even remotely be considered to be controversial.
Any Soldier suspected of violating the Army Online Misconduct Policy will typically be flagged and investigated through the 15-6 investigation process (explained more at this link). It would be rare, but it is possible that Army Online Misconduct would be investigated by CID, which would indicate a felony violation. The CID investigation process is explained more at this link. If an investigation substantiates a violation of the Army Online Misconduct Policy, then he/she should expect to receive some form of adverse action. That could include a Letter of Concern, GOMOR, and/or Article 15. Furthermore, he/she may be subject to separation from the Army through the enlisted separation process, QMP, or officer separation process.
If a Soldier is suspected of any Army Online Misconduct, he/she should immediately contact an experienced Military Lawyer BEFORE he/she agrees to be interviewed by an investigating officer. Furthermore, if a Soldier already has a substantiated finding of Army Online Misconduct, he/she should consult with an experienced Military Lawyer as his/her career is in jeopardy.
This Article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry.