Navigating social media

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Francis Schlosser
  • 22nd Medical Operation Squadron commander
Social media and social networking are not new. Websites such as Facebook, You Tube, Linkedin, Hi5, Twitter and MySpace are very popular and part of our culture and have been accessible on non-classified Air Force computers since 2010.

Social media and other emerging technologies provide an important means of communication and collaboration at home and deployed. Open access to social media allows more effective communication between Air Force personnel, their families and external audiences.

However, social networking is also a tradeoff between safeguarding privacy and enjoying the benefits of socializing online. Most information used by social networking providers and advertisers is intended to provide a value, but when information about an individual or information associated with an individual is shared publicly, it can foster spam or even malicious behavior.
Social networking is all about sharing - with friends, family members, co-workers and the general public. Some information we want to spread as far and wide as possible for example public affairs messaging and crisis communications. Some information we only want to share with our friends and family and other information we don't want to share with anyone such as information which could compromise operational security.

Social media can help tell the Air Force story. The key is to strike a balance between maintaining a safe and tightly controlled network and maintain access to get the information Airmen need to conduct business. As the Air Force leverages new technologies, it is imperative for all Air Force personnel to practice safe on-line activity to protect the network.

What you and your family should know about social media:
· Holidays are a lucrative time for cyber criminals. Users are looking for holiday e-cards, screen savers and wall paper. Links on social media sites provide these items and can also come with the hidden present of malware.
· Password requirements are weak on most social networking sites
· Be careful of the culture of "I approve" without reading the fine print, which can lead to a user being exploited
· Identity theft is prevalent. Photos and "public" data on the social networking sites allow criminals to create impersonated accounts on-line. With on-line shopping integrated onto social media sites, credit card and banking data are often stored within these sites
Tips for navigating and surviving the social media jungle:
· Consider OPSEC
· Know and understand Air Force Instructions and guidance
· Users have sole responsibility for what they post
· Do not post classified or sensitive information
· Users must not post any information which would infringe upon the proprietary, privacy or personal rights of others
· Do not post your full name on a social network
· Profiles should not allow open access for the general public
· Restrict personal information, such as schools attended, phone numbers, e-mail and places of employment to contacts known by the user
· Assume you post will remain there forever
· Be discriminating on what photos you post
· Do not use a work e-mail address to establish an account on a social media platform
· Post honest, informative and respectful comments - no spam and no off-topic or offensive remarks
· Do not post personal information on Air Force sites. Organizational social media sites are to educate and inform the public of your programs and services

Think before you post:
· Pause and think before posting. If your comments give you pause, don't post them
· When disagreeing with others' opinions, keep it appropriate and polite
· Multiple Air Force and Department of Defense regulations provide guidance for Airmen using social media on government networks. Personal use of social media sites must be of reasonable duration and frequency, approved by supervisors and not adversely affect performance of official duties, overburden systems or reflect adversely on the Air Force

For additional information, check the following resources :
· Air Force Personnel Center Social Media Guidance
· Social Media and the Air Force
· AFI 33-129, Web Management and Internet Use
· AFI 35-102, Security and Policy Review Process