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Social media on base equals new tools, new responsibilities

(Retro poster courtesy of Senior Master Sgt. Raymond Sarracino, AFPAA)

(Retro poster courtesy of Senior Master Sgt. Raymond Sarracino, AFPAA)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Blogging, tweeting and "friending" are not new concepts to members of the 162nd Fighter Wing; however the ability to interact on social media Web sites while at work is new and requires a measure of caution from each Guardsman.

As of May 14, people on base can now visit You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail, Gmail and many more social networking sites unfettered by the ban that once blocked these sites on Air National Guard computers.

Social media, now accepted across all branches of the military, is viewed as a capability that must be leveraged in today's lightning-fast information age. Among its numerous applications, the National Guard sees social media as a way to share information quickly during a disaster.

Arizonans who subscribe to the Arizona National Guard's Twitter feedĀ  on their mobile devices, for example, can receive vital information during a state emergency quicker than can be provided through traditional media.

Other benefits range from sharing photos from an incident site, to promoting family programs, to keeping drill status Guardsmen connected to their units between drills. The communication possibilities are endless, but Department of Defense policy is clear - social media must not compromise operational and informational security.

Before engaging in social media, every Airman is strongly advised to review the rules of engagement found in the guide, "Social Media and the Air Force."

Basic rules include:

- Protect classified and sensitive information: secret, for official use only, and sensitive materials, photos or video should never be posted or discussed online. Remember that the flightline, major troop movements, force protection measures and exercises can all have aspects that are classified or sensitive. Airmen who are not sure should ask a security manager or the unit OPSEC officer.

- Stay in your lane: maintainers should stick to maintenance, pilots to flying, medical technicians to health and so on. Posting information about subjects outside of one's expertise raises questions about credibility and does not help the unit mission.

- Don't lie: false statements are punishable by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and damage the Guard's credibility.

- Give your opinion: personal opinions on any subject must contain a disclaimer "not the views of the Department of Defense or Air National Guard."

- You represent the Air Force and the Guard: Air Guardsmen should not post photos or statements without first scrutinizing the message sent. Is the uniform worn properly? If the image or statement is humorous, is it in good taste? Does the message reflect the core values of integrity, excellence and service? Is the language used appropriate? Members should contact the base public affairs office for questions about message appropriateness and propriety.

- Use common sense: Servicemembers are prohibited from posting privacy act information like addresses, phone numbers or other personally identifying information. Also, users should not post anything that would embarrass or discredit themselves or the Air Force. Remember, once posted online, information, photos and video could remain there forever.

Ultimately, each member is responsible for their actions online. Airmen who adhere to the highest standards of professionalism will help tell the Air Guard story to their friends and the public via social media and will prove to be a credit to the Arizona National Guard.

For a list of Air Force social media sites visit http://www.af.mil/socialmedia.asp.

Additional references include: AFI 35-113, Chapter 15, Social Media; AFI 33-129 (Section 2), Use of Internet Resources by Government Employees; AFI 35-107, Public Web Communications; or DoDD 5500.7-R, Joint Ethics Regulation, subsection 2-301, Use of Federal Government Resources.