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IDF Manages Social Media

Chief-of-Staff issues new rules that dictate what soldiers can and cannot post to sites like Facebook

By: Yossi Yehoshua
Published: June 12th, 2013 in News » Israel
A group of female soldiers provide a good example of what not to post on FB

In an attempt to deal with the free flow of information that soldiers publicize on the web, the operations department of the IDF on Tuesday issued orders from the chief-of-staff limiting soldiers’ use of social networking sites and establishing new rules – who is allowed to use social media, and who is forbidden, depending on the type of service, rank, and security clearance level.

The IDF notes that in the past few years there have been several negative incidents due to ‘uneducated’ use of Facebook, when soldiers shared operational and personal details which could have brought harm to the IDF.

In order to deal with this cyber age reality, the IDF’s operations department, together with the department for information security, have issued a list of rules in order to protect the country’s secrets.

According to the basic guidelines, the IDF cannot hide soldiers, nor does it want to. Thus it was decided to define three levels, upon which, according to the IDF, the level of visibility on the internet would be decided.

On the first and strictest level are people with classified intelligence positions. They are forbidden from opening an account with personal details or photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google+.

The second level is less strict, and it defines soldiers in special and elite units such as pilots, Sayeret Matkal combatants and officers from the rank of lieutenant colonel and above. These soldiers can open an account, but they cannot specify that they are serving in the IDF, post photos in uniform, or posit military photos. Also, if they are outside the country, they are not allowed to do check-ins on social network sites.

The third, most lenient group includes a majority of soldiers, who are allowed to use social networking, and advertise photos in uniform. “There is no problem with a Golani soldier taking photos in uniform, but he is absolutely forbidden from publicizing operational details,” said the department for informational security.

The IDF explains that in the past, great damage was almost done when a combat soldier posted on his Facebook account about an arrest operation scheduled to take place that same night in an Arab village, but he was monitored by the department for information security. As a result of his post, the operation was cancelled and the soldier was court martialed and sentenced to jail.

In another situation, soldiers posted photos from a war room, with classified maps appearing in the background.

Within the department for information security, teams monitor the social networks for sensitive information. According to the chief-of-staff’s orders, it has been decided to severely punish soldiers posting classified information on social networks.

Unlike other offenses,unrelated to information security, only an officer of colonel or higher rank can hear arguments in cases of classified information. “In the cyber age, the information you shoot out to space is received by the other side and then it comes back against you,” said a senior level military source. “Thus you must be careful.”

This story is reprinted with permission from Ynet News.

Related articles: IDF, military, social media, facebook, soldiers, Israel, Instagram, Twitter
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