Here's another one for the "social media surveillance" file, and we can probably file it under "that was stupid" as well. It seems the Israeli Defense Force, always at the cutting edge of technology, is using Facebook to catch female draft-dodgers who avoid military duty by pleading religious exemption. Of course, the subjects of this surveillance make things easier by posting evidence of their draft-dodging for all to see in a public forum.
While all Israelis over the age of 18 are required to perform military service -- three years for men, two for women -- women can get an exemption if they are Orthodox Jews, whose strict practices forbid them from serving alongside men and who also tend to begin having children at a young age, among other reasons. According to one estimate, 35% of Jewish women in Israel avoid the draft by seeking a religious exemption. However this figure is a bit suspicious, considering that Orthodox make up just 25% of the country's Jewish population of 5,726,000.
Certainly the IDF isn't buying it, and they have Facebook updates to back them up. According to a recent report, over 1,000 young women have been caught lying about their religious belief to evade military service using evidence from the social network. This includes photos or status updates showing them eating at non-kosher restaurants, dressing immodestly, or RSVP-ing for party invitations on Friday nights, during the Jewish Sabbath.
This story encapsulates a lot of the potential drawbacks and pitfalls of social media, some of which I've discussed before. As a new communications platform, it naturally lends itself to all kinds of weird, creepy uses, including government surveillance of civilians. And of course it is popular with young people, who are too stupid and self-absorbed to imagine that anyone might look at their information besides the people they intend to see it.
Live and learn, ladies; maybe it's not such a great idea to put your life under a microscope when you're brazenly lying to the government.