Commentary

July 20, 2012

Be careful what you post; it could hurt your career

by Staff Sgt. Frances Kriss
62nd Airlift Wing public affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AFNS) — Social media quickly became a widespread form of interactive communication and has been incorporated in the way people conduct business, including the military.

Since it was a fairly new concept a few years ago, we had the freedom to post whatever opinions we had on our personal social media sites without any kind of reprimand or punishment.

There are now strict policies in place to regulate social media and whatever is posted online can land service members in deep trouble. Certain actions can be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

An example occurred last year when a staff sergeant assigned to the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron received an Article 15, reduction in rank, fined $500, and received a reprimand for posting inappropriate comments on Facebook.

Another example that appeared on national media was Marine sergeant who affiliated himself with the tea-party and criticized President Barack Obama on his private Facebook page. His security clearance was suspended and he now faces an other-than-honorable discharge.

It’s important to remember that we all raised our right hand and recited an oath, where we said we will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over us. Therefore, there are certain comments we should not announce publicly.

There are also limitations when it comes to political, religious and ideological views.

Use common sense when you post on social media sites — it has the potential to reach thousands and possibly millions of people around the world.

In addition, once something is posted, it’s really difficult to take it back. Even if the post is deleted, there is no guarantee that no else saw it, shared it, or re-tweeted it.

Being on social media is like being on the spotlight. If you post on your profile section that you’re affiliated with the Air Force or have pictures of you in uniform, then you are essentially representing every Airman in the United States.

We must keep in mind that whether we are active duty, Guard or Reserve, in or out of uniform, we still represent the Air Force and the U.S. Armed Forces. We have an image to uphold and we want to continue being America’s highest-rated U.S. institution.

Bottom line, be careful posting opinions on social media sites because it’s now punishable under the UCMJ and one small remark or photo is not worth ruining a career.




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