Maintaining trust on social media

  • Published
  • By Capt. Casey Staheli
  • 913th Airlift Group
I’ve heard it most of my life. From high school coaches, college professors, drill sergeants and business leaders: communication is key.

For both good and bad, communicating, connecting and sharing is more widespread than ever. Technology has changed how we interact. We can text or tweet friends around the world, FaceTime family in an instant, and post pictures or videos on social media sites.

Sharing our lives with loved ones is a positive aspect of our ever-increasing communication, however, bullying, stalking and harassment are some of the negative aspects of communication technology.

As military members, we need to protect ourselves from the unfortunate aspects, while also setting the standard of social media conduct.

Unfortunately, some of our military members have chosen not to. Last month it was revealed that in January 2017, explicit photos and videos of numerous female Marines and civilian women, some photographed without their consent, were posted in the private Facebook group, “Marines United.” Some of the photographs also contained the individual’s name, military rank and unit.

The effect of behaviors that target our sisters and brothers in arms breaks down the fabric of who we are as Wingmen. We need the support and trust of each other and the general populous if we are going to succeed. Actions, such as those undertaken by “Marines United,” erode the trust that’s vital to our triumph and are incompatible with military service.

Gen. David L. Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff, said "The Air Force is built upon the core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. We expect our Airmen to adhere to our core values at all times and to treat their fellow service members with the highest degree of dignity and respect. As warriors, that translates to trust on the battlefield, which is essential to warfighting effectiveness. When Airmen fail to live up to our core values, the reputation of all who serve and have served is tarnished. These values apply to behavior on social media. Any conduct or participation in activities, whether online or offline, that does not adhere to these core values is not acceptable."

The following tips for social media can help us keep our online and social media actions acceptable.

• Treat people with respect
• Think before posting information online and/or sending to friends
• Be cautious of unintended consequences of information sharing and privacy settings (i.e. material being sent to other people)
• Avoid actions that could bring discredit upon yourself, your unit, or the Air
Force, including posting something defamatory or, threatening
• Don’t participate in websites and/or any activities that victimize or otherwise disparage others

Any Airman with reason to believe he or she may have been affected by similar actions is encouraged to proactively seek assistance from local Air Force Office of Special Investigations,