With cyber-warfare on the minds of security officials around the world, more attention is being paid to the security risks presented by social media. This week an Australian analyst recommended that new military recruits should be forced to delete their social media profiles to limit the security risk posed by this information -- including details about their lives before they signed up to serve.
Mark Gregory, a senior lecturer at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, was quoted by Aussie news outlets as saying: “Every power builds up profiles of the people who lead other militaries. That's just the Rules of War 101. Warfare is going to be about impersonating people and convincing others to carry out tasks based on false information.”
To limit the amount of information potential enemies can glean about military personnel, both in order to impersonate them and to fool them by impersonating others (e.g. commanding officers) Gregory urged that “on the day these cadets enlist, their entire electronic lives be erased.”
No, really: “They should have no Facebook accounts, no Google accounts, no iTunes accounts. They should not exist on digital networks until they retire from Defense.” And this is a long-term proposition, considering that officers’ careers are measured in decades: “These people will be the leaders of our military for the next 30 years.”
In light of some embarrassing incidents over the last couple years, Gregory’s advice might not be such a bad idea -- although there’s the question of what to do with former service members who are acting up. Last year Australian Defense (sorry, Defence) Minister Stephen Smith expressed anger about negative publicity resulting from an anti-gay Facebook page created by a former member of the Australian Defence Force, which specifically targeted four current members of the ADF. One Australian newspaper described it as a “social media campaign designed to expose and intimidate homosexual personnel” in the ADF, which has accepted openly homosexual service members since 1992.
Also in 2011, a male ADF recruit was arrested for using a Web cam to live stream video of sexual intercourse with a female recruit to six other soldiers without her knowledge.