AF instant messengers shutting down

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The Air Force will shut down the Air Force Instant Messenger and Friends and Family Instant Messenger services by Dec. 31.

AFIM and FFIM are collaborative tools available on the Air Force Portal. AFIM is used by Air Force Portal users to chat with each other. FFIM is a subset of AFIM that allowed AF Portal users to chat with up to five friends or family members.

The cost of the services, combined with waning interest in the services, Air Force focus on migrating to Department of Defense enterprise capabilities and availability of other social networking options, led to the decision to eliminate the services.

The cost to maintain AFIM and FFIM was approximately $228,000 per year, which included the license cost and engineering support.

Since the DOD opened up access to social media sites on May 2010, both AFIM and FFIM metrics show a significant decrease in usage. As of September 2011, AFIM usage had decreased 71 percent in page views; and 43 percent in weekly session visitors from approximately 5,000 to less than 2,500. For FFIM, weekly visitors had decreased 80 percent from 600 to less than 100.

The Air Force is migrating to DOD enterprise capabilities for better information sharing and greater efficiency. An established DOD instant messaging capability is the Defense Connect Online chat function called "Jabber." The Air Force performed a user acceptance test of the DCO chat capability and found it an acceptable replacement for AFIM and FFIM; including use in deployed locations.

Anyone with access to a common access card-enabled computer can establish a DCO account. Once a DCO account is established, a user can login to DCO with their CAC or with their DCO user identification and password. An established DCO user can set up a DCO conference room and provide the link to that conference room to friends and family. The friends and family members can then enter the conference room as guests. Once in the conference room, all guests have access to a chat pod where they can exchange instant messages. While FFIM was limited to the Air Force Portal sponsor registering up to five people and only chatting with individuals one at a time, DCO allows the sponsor to establish a chat session where multiple people can chat together.

Information on how to access and use Jabber is located on the AF Portal.

Chat tools on social media sites like Facebook are also available to Airmen on military networks as well as family and friends at home. Deployed Airmen at larger Air Force installations are also able to use the DOD's Morale Net.

(Courtesy of Air Force Space Command Public Affairs.)