TRAVIS AIR FORCE Base, Calif. --
I spend much of my off-duty time volunteering in a local organization that works with youths ages 11 to 17. They are generally well-behaved and smart. Their styles range from skaters with skinny jeans and hoodies with skulls on them to ones who look like store-front models, with the trendiest clothes from the most popular stores. While each is different, there is one thing the majority of them have in common - Facebook drama.
When I began working with them, it seemed impossible to get them to open up to me. I was there to mentor them and they just would not talk to me about anything of substance in their lives until I became their Facebook friend.
Once one of them found me and added me as their friend, the rest followed. They continued to find me through their web of friends so delicately weaved by Facebook.
Soon, I knew more than I wanted to know about their lives. I found that Facebook was a forum for the youth to air their gripes and drama. This gave me insight into their lives and became a tool for me to be able to connect with them.
In the same way, Facebook has become popular with members of the military and provides insight into their lives for all who have access to their page, which depends on their privacy settings.
With the popularity of social media sites such as Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, the Air Force Public Affairs Agency put together some tips for Airmen to keep in mind.
1. Don't give out classified information - think about operational security at all times.
2. Stay in your lane - if you're a mechanic talking about legal issues on base, reconsider your post. Talk about what you are an expert on.
3. Don't lie - credibility is crucial. Giving a false statement is also punishable by the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
4. Use common sense - if you wouldn't say it in front of your mother, you probably shouldn't say it on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. Your words and images go out to thousands and possibly millions of people around the world instantly and once it's out there, it's there for good. Also, be careful what personal information you divulge, such as phone numbers, addresses or any information that could aid identity thieves or the enemy.
5. The enemy is engaged in this battle space - you must use common sense and OPSEC to be engaged there too.
In the same way that I was able to learn all about the youth I worked with through their use of social media, people have the opportunity to learn about you through your use of it. These people may be Airmen you supervise, people in your chain of command or the enemy.
Remain vigilant in all aspects of your life and do not make the mistake of having a false sense of security in your social media use.
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