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Be savvy about social media

U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Jovan D. Banks

U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Jovan D. Banks

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Social media is no longer the "new thing." With nearly three out of four internet-using adults using social media, it is a normal part of life for most Americans, including most members of the military.

Whether you are active duty or in the Air National Guard, you are well within your rights to use social media. Everything you post on any social media platform is a reflection of you, and posts can show your unique interests and personal story through photos, videos, or text. Social media can even be a means to tell your story about being a service member; but, take care -- you are legally responsible for all of it.

For instance, a Marine Corps sergeant received an other-than-honorable discharge in 2012 for posting images and text criticizing President Barack Obama on a Facebook page he created.

It's important to remember the basics of good social media practices. In AFI 1-1, Air Force Standards, section 2.15 "Use of Social Media," the guidelines for proper use are clearly outlined. Some key "do's" and "do not's" are below:

Do:
· Observe Air Force standards, both on and off duty, with all posts/shares/material.
· Be sensitive to Operational Security.
· Maintain professional, respectful communications with other members of the military, and avoid fraternization.
· Promote a positive image of yourself as a service member of the DOD.

Do not:
· Make posts on behalf of the DOD.
· Maintain connections with individuals that could compromise future background/security checks.
· Post material that could bring discredit upon the Air Force, Air National Guard, or the DOD, including material that is racially offensive, sexually explicit or discriminatory in nature.
· Make defamatory remarks about your chain of command, from the newest Airman all the way up to Governor or the president of the United States.

It's important to remember every Airman is a steward of the Air Force and the Air National Guard. For many friends and followers on social media, you could be the only military member with whom they interact. With this in mind, you have the very real responsibility of upholding the Air Force in good standing and being a reflection of Air Force values online, just as you would in person.

Posting inappropriate photos of yourself, other Airmen or dependents can be severely damaging. Sharing someone else's post containing inappropriate content to your personal profile or elsewhere online reflects on your character as well as that of the Air Force and Air National Guard. Don't do it.

In today's society, ideas can be rapidly spread across the country and around the globe thanks to social media.

You are entitled to your own personal thoughts, reflections and beliefs. However, whether active duty or on drill status, as a member of the military, you are held to high standards of excellence and your social media use must reflect this.

If you have questions, contact the 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs Office at (660) 687-5727.