IDF to Draw Up 'Social Networking Code of Ethics' After Female Soldiers Post Racy Photos

Israel Defense Forces is working on a directive regulating social network use by its members and in some cases banning it entirely.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israel Defense Forces is drafting an official directive defining accepted practices for its members on social networks. Wednesday’s announcement comes in the wake of a Facebook posting of young women recruits in their underwear that gained international − and, from the IDF’s perspective, unwanted − attention.

However, the IDF did not say if the directive has any connection to the Facebook episode.

Soldiers serving in highly classified units will be forbidden from opening profiles on Facebook or any other social network. Other IDF members, such as pilots, intelligence officers and soldiers serving in sensitive units, will have restrictions imposed on their social network use. They will not be able to identify themselves as soldiers, upload photographs in uniform or be tagged in such photos. They will also be forbidden from revealing their location by using the “check-in” feature many social networks have.

The restrictions will also be imposed on career soldiers who hold certain ranks. The IDF is still deciding whether to apply them to majors and lieutenant colonels.
The directive says the IDF Information Security Department will monitor social networks and ensure that military personnel are observing the new restrictions. Unit commanders will also have the power to increase the severity of the regulations.

This already happens in some IDF units − for example, the Shayetet 13 naval commando unit has ordered its soldiers to close their personal Facebook profiles.

The directive will be released by the end of this month under the authority of Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. It will be a binding operational directive until it has been officially approved by the General Staff.

The IDF initially wanted the directive to apply to senior reserves officers but decided against it following legal discussions with the military advocate general − perhaps a nod to the importance of social networks in civilian life.

“Social networks are a means of communication and a means of creating experiences today,” a senior officer in the Operations Directorate said. “We don’t intend on making the army impenetrable or shady, but we know there is potential for harm.”

The majority of intelligence information collected against senior officers in the IDF is taken from social networks, the senior officer said. Over the past few months, the IDF discovered that a fictitious Facebook profile had been opened under the names of Benny Gantz and a battalion commander. It is unclear whether the profiles were pranks or serious attempts to collect information, but they point to the dangerous possibility of information being collected on officers or their close friends.

Facebook on smartphoneCredit: Reuters
IDF soldiers at computers.Credit: IDF Spokesperson

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