Blog, text, Twitter away but…

  • Published
  • By Landy C. Schwiesow
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
Imagine a woman, sitting in her favorite spot at a coffee shop surfing the net. She is in-the-know and keeping herself up to date. Her daily rituals include checking her Facebook, her MySpace and "tweeting" away on her Twitter Web page. She also reads, and responds to, various other blogs that exist in this nebulous thing called the "Internet." 

The Internet and its newest applications have made life easier in some ways, yet harder in others. 

It's not only a way to communicate with those whom we choose, but it's also a way to mass communicate with everyone else - including complete strangers. In the age of reality television, it may be the quickest and easiest way to get famous. All that needs to be done is type your thoughts and ideas, then hit "enter." It's then posted for the entire world to see. 


Once information is out there in cyberspace, there is no getting it back. Even if the site is pulled or taken down, those pesky binary digits have been transferred and transformed from one site to another and another. Tough enough to be John Q. Public, the private citizen, right about now, but think about Airman John Snuffy and how this applies to a military member. 

For those in the military, the histories of the services are built upon the actions of, and stories told by, our Airmen, Soldiers, Marines and Sailors. 

Air Force leaders aren't saying "don't do it!" when it comes to social media.
On the contrary, they want Airmen to tell the Air Force story ... when Airmen are appropriately representing the Air Force. 

Airmen need to apply the same rules to blogging they apply when talking to the media: represent the Air Force by knowing your key talking points, staying in your lane and being aware of what you're saying. 

"Air Force members and employees should understand they are responsible for, and beholden to, the words they choose to use whether downtown in the public square, to a close friend at home or in an online venue," said Capt. Christina Sukach, chief of emerging technology at the Air Force Public Affairs Agency. "While there isn't an Air Force policy specifically outlining interactions via blogs per se, there is guidance in place that directs Airmen's behavior, regardless of the medium." 

According to Air Force Instruction 35-101, Public Affairs Policies and Procedures, "each Air Force member or employee is responsible for obtaining the necessary review and clearance, starting with Public Affairs, before releasing any proposed statement, text or imagery to the public. This includes any digital products being loaded on an unrestricted Web site." 

"One common mistake is that of overzealous enthusiasm in which the person forgets his or her situational awareness - the person is either very excited or very upset and posts before thinking twice," Captain Sukach said. "A good bit of advice is to not post when emotions are enflamed." 

Airmen should consider the following before posting information in cyberspace. 

"Both online and off - if you wouldn't say it directly to your mom, your commander or anyone else you respect, then you probably shouldn't post it," she said. 

For more information concerning blogging and posting, check out AFPAA's new guidebook, New Media and the Air Force, at http://www.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-090406-036.pdf.