IDF Unit to Monitor Soldiers' Entries on Facebook

Crackdown a product of Second Lebanon War and the conclusions of the Winograd Committee.

Anshel Pfeffer
Anshel Pfeffer
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The Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Corps has set up a special unit to find intentional media leaks by soldiers and officers, as well as unintended leaks via social media networks such as Facebook.

The crackdown is a product of the Second Lebanon War and the conclusions of the Winograd Committee, among other things.

The official IDF weekly Bamahane announced last week that the investigative division had been established within Military Intelligence's Department of Information Security.

Members of the unit scan Web sites including Facebook and MySpace, and the Twitter short-messaging service.

In addition, the unit reviews transcripts of hundreds of senior officers' conversations, to ensure they are not speaking to journalists without authorization.

The new unit will be allowed to give polygraph tests to soldiers and officers suspected of leaking information.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi recently ordered that all candidates for promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel or higher undergo polygraph tests to check whether they spoke to journalists without authorization.

Hundreds of thousands of new recruits regularly use social media sites.

Over the past two years, the IDF has issued new instructions for soldiers regarding what they may post online about themselves and their military service.

The Shin Bet security service has also exposed several cases where terror organizations, including Hezbollah, tried to contact soldiers via Facebook and other sites.

Over the past year, MI has expanded its resources devoted to social media. In addition to looking for espionage attempts, it works to protect Web sites and networks crucial to Israel's economic and financial infrastructure.

Last week the commander of MI, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, said that the Internet already has become "a fourth dimension of combat," in addition to land, sea and air.

The military isn't only taking defensive action via Facebook and Twitter. Over the past year, the IDF Spokesman's Office has been expanding its online content department, which is active on blogs and Internet forums. The department seeks to make information available to the hundreds of thousands of young Web users who get most of their news coverage online.

At the beginning of the week, the IDF Spokesman was told via Twitter about 150 children in Haiti in need of food and water. The IDF Spokesman passed on the children's address to the IDF aid delegation in Haiti.