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Israel Warns Citizens About Twitter Use

Social media geotagging features spark unprecedented security questions

Stephanie Butnick
November 16, 2012
A sign imploring Israeli citizens not to publicize information about where rockets fired from Gaza hit.(screenshot)

A sign imploring Israeli citizens not to publicize information about where rockets fired from Gaza hit.(screenshot)

As Operation Pillar of Defense unfolds on the ground in Israel, there’s a striking way in which the conflict has been playing out in the social media sphere as well as in real time. While the Israel Defense Forces’ aggressive use of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (Pinterest too) has turned heads, there’s one unpredictable element of social media the IDF might not have accounted for: users.

While the IDF social media surge seems to be based in strategy, with a clear goal in the dissemination of specific information, users remain something of a wild card, creating an unprecedented security issue for Israel forces. A flyer spreading around the Internet, titled ‘Shtika’—silence—and bearing the IDF Spokesperson insignia, warns Israelis not to Tweet or Facebook anything specific regarding where rockets launched from Gaza have hit. That information, presumably, could be used by Hamas to recalibrate their missile capabilities.

The flyer reads:

Do not advertise strike locations. The State of Israel is under attack from missiles launched from within the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces are going above and beyond in order to curb in Hamas and terror organizations.

Every time you advertise the fact that a rocket has hit a certain neighborhood, town, road, etc., you are effectively endangering public safety.

In addition, there are sensitive installments that might be an enemy target. The enemy is not stupid. The enemy is listening!

Please share and disseminate

As Fast Company reports, it’s the location-based software utilized by these social media sites that can be potentially problematic:

Geotagging of posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram makes metadata describing the exact location of a user publicly available. GPS technology allows any outsider access to triangulation abilities that would have been a military secret even 10 years ago.

While the escalation and outcome of Operation Pillar of Defense remains unclear, we’ll be able to follow it minute by minute, online. One thing’s for certain: we’re definitely not in 2008 anymore.

Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

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