There’s been a lot written about how the Israeli army has been using social media to broadcast the details of its latest military campaign against Hamas — live-tweeting rocket attacks, uploading YouTube videos of hits on specific victims, aggregating Instagram photos from the battlefield, and even posting infographics to a Tumblr blog. This obviously has marketing and propaganda value, but that isn’t the only way this modern media campaign is changing the nature of military strategy: since social-media tools are inherently difficult to regulate and are multi-directional in nature, they can be a very dangerous double-edged sword, and we are only beginning to see the full repercussions of that.
One concrete example of this emerged within days of the Israel Defense Forces launching what they called Operation Pillar of Defense (which came complete with its own Twitter hashtag). According to several reports, the Israeli army asked citizens not to post the details of attacks or troop movements on social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram because they might inadvertently reveal the location of specific targets. One political blog that was briefed by the IDF as part of its media strategy wrote:
“Bloggers, tweeters, and Facebook friends of Israel were reminded by our IDF contacts not to say exactly where rockets have landed or even when/where alert sirens have blared… The siren and landing reports are helping the terrorists hone their aim, making it a bit easier to target/kill civilians.
It’s one thing to say the troops are building outside of Gaza, and its something totally different reporting that you saw a tank moving down main street at 3pm… that information can tell Hamas where (and when) a land action may be coming.”
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