IDF warns troops: Enemies, terrorists can use Facebook

Army responds to publication of Cast Lead troops’ details; letter sent to officers says enemies can use social networking sites to get info.

December 26, 2010 20:13
2 minute read.

Facebook 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The IDF has stepped up its war on Facebook, warning officers throughout the military that the social network site could be used by the country’s enemies to glean classified information.

In a letter sent recently to all commanders in the army from the Operations Directorate, officers were urged to inform their subordinates about the risks that exist on websites such as Facebook.

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The letter was sent out following the online publication of a list of officers and soldiers featuring their photographs, names, addresses and other personal details under the title “Israeli War Criminals” for their actions during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip two years ago.

According to the Operations Directorate, most of the information on the list was authentic and came from two sources – civilian databases such as phonebooks and social network sites such as Facebook.

“A real threat to your personal safety exists by revealing personal details about your service in the IDF,” the military’s letter read.

The letter gave a number of examples of what appears to be innocent information that can be used to harm army personnel, including pictures of soldiers with the insignia of their unit, photographs taken from within bases and online chatting about “unit hikes” accompanied by pictures.

“All of this gives away that you are a soldier,” the letter read. “Together with this information it will then be easy to determine your address and begin to harass you at home.”

An IDF officer from the Information Security Unit went a step further and warned that enemies such as Hizbullah and Hamas might be able to glean sensitive information from soldiers’ Facebook profiles.

“There have been cases in the past when soldiers posted pictures with classified maps or documents in the background,” the officer said. One example came earlier this year, when the Central Command canceled an operation in a West Bank city after a soldier who was to participate in the raid posted details about it on Facebook.

Despite the danger, the Operations Directorate stressed that Israel was a democratic country and therefore the IDF did not plan to forbid the use of social networking sites like Facebook.

“It is, however, our obligation to warn and instruct,” the letter read. “Hostile people and organizations will and already are making use of every piece of information about the IDF and its servicemen with the goal of causing harm to the State of Israel.”

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