Air Force Academy moves to monitor social media for potential cadet misconduct

A solicitation details a need “to combat cadet conduct in digital mediums.”
USAFA graduation ceremony in 2021. (Getty Images)

The U.S. Air Force Academy aims to hire a contractor that can closely monitor popular social media platforms for posts and content that violate national laws and its official policies — or display potential hate speech, misinformation, disinformation, or harassment of or by its cadets.

Interested vendors are invited to respond by Friday to a solicitation, which details a need “to combat cadet conduct in digital mediums” that might negatively disrupt the institution and broader Air Force initiatives.

“The U.S. Air Force Academy is seeking assistance to prevent harmful online activities. Our goal is to advance cadet character and leadership development in preparation for their service to the nation in this digital age. This contract will allow us to capture trends on social media sites to avert potential negative impacts on the Academy’s climate and culture,” a USAFA spokesperson told DefenseScoop.

Documents attached to the notice detail multiple objectives academy leadership would like to see the chosen contractor meet. They include: compiling a detailed, initial report of current USAFA cadet social media usage and issues; drafting a comprehensive new social media policy; supplying in-person or virtual training; and continuously reporting any violations of cadet policies on certain platforms. 


While the solicitation also explicitly calls out YouTube and TikTok, it states that the academy “needs immediate support for monitoring” Jodel, an app where users can anonymously post blurbs and media that can be viewed by others nearby.

Among other responsibilities listed in the notice, the tapped vendor and its team would need to work with Jodel officials to “identify and de-anonymize users at or associated with USAFA that violate United States laws, rules, and regulations.” 

Jodel has been considered popular at military colleges and service academies in recent years — but not without controversy. 

In 2020, reports detailed how the anonymous chat app enabled racist and sexist exchanges between students at Virginia Military Institute. A Pentagon review released in August 2023 also spotlighted a rise in misconduct and sexual assaults at military academies — which revealed that students can access inaccurate information about assault prevention efforts, reporting, resources and military justice from Jodel.

“There was no single incident on any social media site which prompted us to seek outside assistance, but rather the toxic tendencies that can occur in anonymous online comments. We are not seeking to punish our cadets for posts they make, but to create effective training to produce leaders of character for the Air Force and Space Force,” the USAFA spokesperson told DefenseScoop.

Brandi Vincent

Written by Brandi Vincent

Brandi Vincent is DefenseScoop's Pentagon correspondent. She reports on emerging and disruptive technologies, and associated policies, impacting the Defense Department and its personnel. Prior to joining Scoop News Group, Brandi produced a long-form documentary and worked as a journalist at Nextgov, Snapchat and NBC Network. She was named a 2021 Paul Miller Washington Fellow by the National Press Foundation and was awarded SIIA’s 2020 Jesse H. Neal Award for Best News Coverage. Brandi grew up in Louisiana and received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

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