Army imposes WhatsApp restrictions on its personnel


New Delhi, July 09: The Indian Army has warned its personnel from being active on social media platforms, particularly WhatsApp groups where the members are often unknown.

The move follows an analysis by the Army that has indicated that information leaked on WhatsApp groups are being used for propaganda, sources said.

In recent instructions issued by the Army headquarters, personnel have been told to stay away from large groups that have people who are not known to them personally.

It has been made clear that identity of members on these groups should be confirmed before they become part of any group.

Even though the instructions do not clearly state that serving officials should not be part of groups with veterans, it is believed it is a way of ensuring that they are segregated.

Veterans have been extremely vocal about certain policies and the recent one was the government’s decision to make disability pension taxable, triggering a controversy on social media.

While there is no ban on using social media or being part of WhatsApp groups, sources said many officers exited groups fearing action after instructions came out.

Officials said the instructions are not new but are a reiteration of what has been stated earlier as well.

“Security is a serious issue for us on WhatsApp. There are systems available to mask your real identity and get access,” said an official.

It has been noticed that fake messages meant for propaganda have flooded chat groups of serving military officials triggering a misinformation campaign on various social media platforms.

“In many cases official communication is also being circulated on WhatsApp. This needs to stop as there could be leaks, compromising security,” said an army source.

There is also the lurking danger of honey traps on social media that has prompted the new instructions to all Army personnel.

In addition to this, the Army is also working towards a dedicated information warfare section to counter misinformation campaigns and use social media for psychological conflicts in combating terrorism. The institution will include ‘social media warriors’ as experts who could be civilians working on a contractual basis.

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