Seafarers: Watch Out for Journalists and Pirates


By MarEx 2016-04-20 07:29:37

The Norwegian Hull Club has issued a warning to seafarers about how journalists and pirates might use their social media postings.

The club says that social media platforms such as Facebook, Sina Weibo and Instagram are used to keep in touch with family and friends and also to “snoop around in the lives of more distant acquaintances.”

However, not everyone fully understands how social media works and that traditional media and journalists use it as a source for information.

The Club uses the example of a Facebook post made by a crew member on board one of its members offshore units. The unit was in distress and being evacuated:

“We are currently awaiting helicopter evacuation away from this unit – anchor chains punctured one of the legs in the heavy weather tonight. Home, sweet home!”

In another case, a master was informed by his company that one of their vessels was hijacked. On his open Facebook profile, he discussed detailed information about the hijacked crew members on board with another colleague.

“We know that pirates are using social media actively in their communication and information gathering. The above mentioned master did not think about that. Neither did he know that everyone could access his open Facebook profile.”

The Norwegian Hull Club uses social media as one of its intelligence sources in emergency response, in order to identify possible information that can give improve situational awareness. The Club also uses it to make clients aware of postings that are related to the ongoing situation and it often finds “on-scene-reporters” that probably are unaware of the reach of their pictures and status updates.

The club asks seafarers to consider the consequences of their postings: 
1. Security/safety risk: If Norwegian Hull Club can find your post, it is possible that people with evil purposes could find it. Do not put yourself and your colleagues in danger in a thoughtless second.

2. Economical risk: Your company might be fighting hard for their contracts in a challenging market. “Funny” party pictures from on board your vessels could be enough to send the client to a competitor they see as more professional.

3. Reputational risk: When you are on board, you are representing your company. A scatterbrained comment that you think you are sharing with your friends, can make headlines in the hands of a journalist looking for “breaking news.”

The Club offers the following checklist to ask before posting: 
Will I be OK with my superior seeing this?
Will I be OK with the shipowner seeing this?
Will I be OK with a client seeing this?
Will I be OK with a journalist seeing this?
Do I know how open my social media profile is? Am I familiar with the default Facebook settings?
Do I know all my Facebook friends? 
Do I know the intentions of my high school classmates from 20 years back?
Is my post in compliance with the company media policy? 
Am I the nominated media spokesperson?

If your answer is “no” to any of the above questions, you should probably reconsider your post, says the Club.