Avoid social networking sites, Army told
Date of Publishing:24/8/2010
Kolkata: Trying to get in touch with an old schoolmate who joined the Army, Navy or the Indian Air Force through a social networking site? Your efforts will be in vain.
The defence ministry has directed officers not to register on sites like Facebook, Orkut and Twitter. While this has come as a disappointment to the young breed of officers who are extremely computersavvy, seniors say such restrictions are necessary to prevent any security leak.
"All military commanders have received instructions to discourage officers from using social networking sites. This is in keeping with the principles of the armed forces. Officers and personnel have always been discouraged from maintaining close links with civilians, save family members. Though officers are trained not to disclose information, sensitive or otherwise, we would not like 'outsiders' to get their personal details either," a senior officer said.
According to him, personal details, particularly those relating to family, may be used as a weapon against an officer. Operatives of foreign intelligence agencies or terror outfits may use such information to pressure an officer to divulge information.
"Many officers have parents and siblings in civilian areas. An officer may not consider it an offence to divulge the addresses of such family members to a group of 'friends'. Anti-national elements may locate family members and use them to blackmail an officer. In the past, there have been such instances (though not through a social networking site). We don’t want any 'weakness' of an officer to be exposed," the officer said.
Young officers, however, believe social networking sites pose no threat to national security if members are careful. Some said such sites were the only way to keep in touch with long-lost buddies, not only civilians but also officers in other units. "Till recently, many officers used social networking sites. Not one has revealed his rank, location or profession. Not a single officer has ever uploaded any photograph of himself in uniform or of members of his unit. All had a select group of friends, known to each other for decades. Through Facebook, I succeeded in getting in touch with my best friend in school. He is now an IPS officer and our families have known each other for years. Unless, a member accepts a friendship request, there is no way to get into the close circle and find out personal details," a young officer said.
Incidentally, such restrictions do not apply to IPS or IAS officers in sensitive posts. There are several senior police and administrative officers who keep in touch with friends through such sites. "I am not aware of such restrictions," said Vivek Sahai, president of the IPS Association.
A section of senior IPS officers, however, believes certain restrictions are necessary. IPS and IAS officers do get posted to sensitive organisations, which are no less important from the point of view of national security. Personal information divulged by them on such sites can be misused.
Security Scare Seniors say such restrictions are necessary to prevent any security leak But young officers believe such sites pose no threat to national security if members are careful Such restrictions do not apply to IPS or IAS officers, even those posted to sensitive organisations