Australia Considers Deleting Recruits' Social Profiles

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.

1 comment about "Australia Considers Deleting Recruits' Social Profiles".
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  1. Joel Drotts, December 18, 2012 at 10:42 p.m.

    There is an inverse to this "Non-at-all" sort of cave man thinking. For military service personnel loyal to their Country, the military also loses a valuable resource by not having its members out there floating around in cyber space. Much like any foreign land, street, or community where a loyal soldier is embedded, they can and will hear things that may otherwise go missed but for the soldiers presence in the area, region, cyber space, or community.

    Furthermore, what would happen is a very large amount of resources would have to be allocated by military Brass to investigate, prove, and prosecute (At least an American Military Officer) for his or her use of social media. Now, I am not sure who got embarrassed when, but these things happen in any intelligence game. Furthermore, the fact that cyber wars of the future will be/are nothing but pure intelligence, dissemination of information, filtering that information, fact checking, double checking from secondary sources, making sure to get peer review (as you'll never really truly know, unless you are inside the direct chain of command of an intelligence or military branch whether information has been compromised.

    However, coded information isn't going to be broadcast over the internet any way. If it is, then that is one hell of a risk for any Government to take. Then, as if is the case as suggested here, if they may not use the internet or social media at all the soldiers wouldn't get the coded (Publically broadcasted, if there was such a thing.) message any way.

    I know little to nothing of the Australian military tactics, but if they are broadcasting publicly in code there are far greater mis-managements in intelligence that began long prior to any soldier ever going a social network or consuming social media. I'll even admit to making likely embarrassing mistakes in the past, as a media theorist and broadcaster.

    It's easy to get confused on this stuff, especially if a Government were not to obey the Constitution and be doing things they shouldn't be doing any way. This plausibly could cause misunderstandings in the mind of any one. That wasn't the case with me. However, it is very easy to imagine how a mis-communication could unfold in even the cunningness of minds, whom is trying to mentally digest massive quantities of media and information, spanning across various channels and platforms, trying to filter out the irrelevant, so as to pinpoint the particular audience, market, demographic, or movement a savvy media researcher could be seeking/targeting (Especially if a party not usually found in that channel or on that platform was actually broadcasting a message. Such as would be the logical hypothetical set of circumstance suggested by the author of the article above.

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