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Airmen and social media, think before you share

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.-- -- With the rise in popularity of social media sites and apps, Airmen are being reminded that they represent the Air Force continually. 


“Remind your Airmen that, no matter the medium, they represent our Air Force 24/7,” Maj. Gen. Anthony Cotton, 20th Air Force commander, wrote in an email to base commanders. 

The Air Force views social media sites positively, and Airmen are encouraged to use social media to share your experiences as a military member. However, it is important Airmen know how to conduct themselves on social networking websites. By the nature of the profession, military members are always on the record and must represent core values. 

The Air Force has published a guide to help Airmen share information effectively while following Air Force instructions and protecting operations security. 

The guide can be found at http://kirtland.af.mil/Portals/52/documents/SocialMediaGuide2013.pdf. 

The guide reminds Airmen that they are personally responsible for what is post on social networking services and any other medium. Airmen should consider how a post can be interpreted by the public. 

“Be cautious about crossing the line between funny and distasteful. If you have doubts about whether you should post something, err on the side of caution. If the post in question concerns the Air Force, discuss the proposed post with your supervisor or your local public affairs office,” the guide states. 

Airmen can generally express personal opinions and ideas about public issues or political candidates using social media, the same as they can write a letter to a newspaper’s editor. There are, however, a number of activities military members cannot do in regard to displaying political opinion and support on social media. 

They cannot engage in partisan political activity, including posting or making direct links to a political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause. That is considered the same as distributing literature on behalf of those entities, which is prohibited. This also includes not liking or commenting on social media posts from these groups. 

Other social media guidelines include: 

- Don’t post the exact whereabouts and activities of deployed Airmen.  

- Be general about the dates and locations concerning an Airman’s trip arrival and departure.  

- Don’t make your vacation dates public on social networks. Criminals may track your activities and know exactly when to break into your home while you’re on vacation. 

 - Don’t publicly post exactly how long Airman will be gone on a trip or deployment.  

- Be careful about publicly posting children’s photos, names, schools, ages and schedules. 

Ultimately, Airmen should consider the image they portray on social media, and think before sharing information that could jeopardize a career or reputation.