Can officers and enlisted airmen be “friends” on Facebook?


Facebook is an important social media tool that allows supervisors to see what their subordinates are really doing when they call in sick, but should officers and enlisted airmen be “friends”?

Officers and enlisted cannot get too familiar because that could lead to fraternization, and that never ends well.

The Air Force allows officers and enlisted airmen to be Facebook friends, as long as they remain professional at all times, said Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Jennifer Spires. Any unprofessional social activity between officers and enlisted airmen, including online relationships, would be considered fraternization.

“The definition of fraternization is … ‘A personal relationship between an officer and an enlisted member that violates the customary bounds of acceptable behavior in the Air Force and prejudices good order and discipline, discredits the armed services, or operates to the personal disgrace or dishonor of the officer involved,’” Spires told FlightLines.

The issue of whether officers and enlisted can be friends on Facebook was a recent topic of discussion on the Air Force Times online forums.

“I believe that line needs to be clear in a military organization,” one person commented. “It’s like when a subordinate asks some crusty NCO/SNCO what his or her first name is and they promptly reply with ‘Sergeant.’ That’s the way it should be, but in a technological sense, we’re readily providing that info without even being asked for it on places such as Facebook along with every other detail of our personal lives. My subordinates (and superiors as well) do not need to see old pictures of me raising hell or see me posting what a crappy day I had.”

Another commenter wrote that becoming friends with the officers in your chain of command can make life uncomfortable.

“I just think it would be too weird if I posted a status as ‘taking a dump’ and my commander ‘liked’ it,” the person wrote.


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