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Air Force updates social media guide for airmen

Jul. 28, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
The Air Force revised its social media guide in June.
The Air Force revised its social media guide in June. (Air Force)
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In one day on the Internet, 394 billion emails are sent, 175 million people visit Facebook, 40 million people visit Twitter, 250 million photos are uploaded and 2 million blog posts are written on average, according to a new U.S. Transportation Command 2013 report.

That’s enough information overload to confuse anyone about the boundaries of engaging, posting or even “liking” something in the digital world.

To try to help airmen sort through what’s OK and what’s not, the Air Force has updated its Social Media Guide so airmen know how to conduct themselves on social networking websites without discrediting themselves or the service.

“We don’t want airmen to feel like they are stifled from sharing information,” said Tanya Schusler, chief of social media for the Air Force Public Affairs Agency, in a release. “We just want to emphasize the use of common sense to keep people safe.”

Here’s what airmen need to know:

Stay within regulations

If it falls under Air Force Instruction 1-1, “Air Force Standards,” it applies. The guide emphasizes “you are always an airman.” Service members are personally responsible for what they say or post on social networking sites whether they are on or off duty.

Keep it safe

Airmen should not post information about their deployments or photos of secure areas within their workspace. Don’t post classified, sensitive or “For Official Use Only” information — troop movement, force size, weapon details, etc. Disable “geotagging” to conceal this information. Geotagging adds geographical identification data to photos, videos, websites and text messages through location-based applications. “It can be something as simple as sharing your location when visiting your favorite store or restaurant,” Schusler said. “This tells your social network one critical piece of information — you’re not home.”

Opinions are like ...

If you’re going to get into a heated discussion on a social media site, remember it’s out there permanently. Even if you delete something quickly, someone has already seen it. The comments can be printed, screen captured, copied, etc. Don’t argue, just correct the record. The guide states to make clear that these are your personal opinions, not of the Air Force.

Know when to take action

If an airman posts a statement about hurting himself or others, time is of the essence. Contact 911 if you know this airman and his location; if you do not know this person’s location, contact the command post or your supervisor for help finding the airman.

Check your settings

Do not rely on site security measures alone. Be careful who you allow into your social media networks; maintain the privacy settings by changing passwords regularly and refrain from giving out personally identifiable information. When establishing a new account, do not use official Defense Department contact information — use your personal accounts, but know that personal accounts are not covered by the “terms of service” agreements established within the DoD.

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