Revolutionary Measures

Social media goes to war

Apache Helicopter at Camp Bastion

Apache Helicopter at Camp Bastion (Photo credit: Defence Images)

I’ve often wondered about how social media causes normally sane people to share really detailed, personal information with the whole world. Is it a desire for recognition, a belief that the internet has different rules or simply not thinking that makes it OK to provide enough information that people can find out where you are, what you do and even your inside leg measurement? Essentially it is the offline world equivalent of jotting your bank details down on a postcard or leaving your passwords in a coffee shop.

Two stories this week aimed to bring home the real consequences of indiscriminate sharing through social media. Firstly the US Army warned that geotagged photos and features like Facebook Timeline identify the locations of soldiers, while a fake Facebook account in the name of a leading NATO general tried to ‘friend’ senior military officers and Ministry of Defence officials.

All very worrying but before we come over all Daily Mail let’s look at applying a little common sense. Back in World War II, the mantra was ‘careless talk costs lives’ and the same principles apply today. Soldiers need to follow strict social media guidelines, and if that means they can’t compete to be Mayor of Camp Bastion on FourSquare I think that’s the least of their worries. And, with the best will in the world, why would you want to be following a four star general on Facebook if you merely worked with them? Given that the whole Wikileaks case blew up because of Private Bradley Manning passing classified, top secret, information to the site, I’d say that the military has plenty of larger security breaches to plug before it spends too much time blaming social media. Like everyone using social media soldiers need to think before they post, tweet, poke or upload photos…………

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March 13, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Interesting heading for column. You’re probably not aware that a month before this posting, I published a book, Social Media Go to War: Rage, Rebellion and Revolution in the Age of Twitter (Marquette Books, 2013). It was the third book in a series that traces the shift from big, international media (Global Media Go to War, 2004); to alternative media (Cybermedia Go to War, 2006) and now to personalized media. Though written by scholars, the whole series of books (all through Marquette) provide an overview of media development over the past 10 years. As I said, nifty title (though the noun media requires a plural verb).

    Comment by Ralph Berenger | May 26, 2013 | Reply

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