Social media: a sticky companion

  • Published
  • By Miles Brown
  • Chief, 55th Wing Public Affairs
The written word, always a powerful tool, has become more so with the evolution of modern technology. But always remember once written and transmitted, your thoughts are no longer in your control. You are now at the mercy of all who view your e-mail or website. If your friend forwards your e-mail or link to two or three friends of his or hers, and they in turn do the same, within a couple of clicks of a mouse your original message or posting, with a path directly back to you, could end up somewhere you weren't expecting.

This applies whether using your personal computer or a government computer, but there are additional issues to consider when at work. In accordance with Air Force Instruction 33-100, User Responsibilities and Guidance for Information Systems: "Using Air Force messaging systems for other than official or authorized uses may result in adverse administrative or disciplinary action. Failure to observe the prohibitions and mandatory provisions of through and by military personnel is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 92, Failure to Obey Order or Regulation. Violations by civilian employees may result in administrative disciplinary action."

Whether you realize it or not, that is the official guidance everyone using government computers on Offutt AFB agrees to when logging-in and clicking "ok" in response to the user agreement and log-in banner during the start of a user session. Whether you read the banner or not, you're responsible for all the information you send or forward from that computer.

What's at stake is your reputation and maybe your career. No one wants to see a career ended because of poor judgment when forwarding a joke or cartoon via e-mail. If you include or forward anything inappropriate, offensive, harassing, abusive, etc., in an e-mail or post it to your website via a government computer, you're misusing that system. It doesn't matter that you or the person you sent it to don't feel it's inappropriate. If anyone can or would be offended, you may be held responsible for your actions.

The bottom line is simple - if you would send the same e-mail or web posting to your supervisor, commander or your mother and father without any concern about the appropriateness of the content, then you're probably not sending or posting offensive material.

Today's technology means the power of your written word is amplified. We all need to remember that with that greater power comes greater responsibility. As long as we use our government computer privileges for official business and keep the use of social media sites appropriate and to a minimum at work, we can all continue to benefit from the computer freedoms we enjoy today.