Safeguarding your digital footprint

By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

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Social media is a great resource for Airmen and their families to share information and stay connected to relatives at home and abroad.

Although many depend on these wonderful tools, recent events have encouraged us to re-evaluate our digital footprint to ensure our personal and professional information is protected from online predators and individuals who want to do us harm.

While social media use can be entertaining and informative, it poses potential operations security weaknesses, and Air Force Instruction 1-1, Air Force Standards, provides guidance on appropriate social media use by Airmen.

OPSEC and personal privacy concerns should be paramount when using social media. Military members have recently been threatened on social media by terrorist organizations looking for information they can use to harm military families and disrupt Air Force operations.

The following tips will make it more difficult for unwanted users to acquire your data through social media:

• Be cautious when accepting friend requests and interacting with people online. You should never accept a friend request from someone you do not know, even if they know a friend of yours.

• Don’t share information you don’t want to become public. Remember, once you put something out there, you can’t control where it goes.

• Disable location-based social networking, or geotagging, on all social media platforms. Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification to photographs, video, websites and text messages.

• Avoid posting work or personal schedules and travel itineraries, especially deployment information and return dates for yourself, a loved one or a unit.

• If you ever hesitate before clicking ‘post’, reconsider the content you are about to share. Our team follows the motto: When in doubt, throw it out!

• Adjust your privacy settings to ensure your posts and profile information is secured and seen only by approved audiences. This last tip applies to any social media platforms you may use, but since Facebook is the most widely used, we want to share this detailed how-to guide on how to secure your profile. Check out this guide for more details.

Practicing good OPSEC and helping family members follow these security measures is essential to protecting personal and mission-critical information on social media. If you ever feel you are being threatened or you notice vulnerable information online, be sure to alert the social media platform’s help center and your local OPSEC manager for assistance.

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