Social Media Used to Track Troops – Get Soldiers to Disobey Orders
Using Social Media Websites as a Weapon
By: Cristal M Clark
This new research is not really too surprising to me, it does however lend credit to one thing I talk about a lot and that is with just a little information about someone, that individual can be swayed, coerced, pushed and prodded to do things that they might not normally do, for instance, a soldier who suddenly just disobeys a direct order.
All of the right information in the wrong hands can be dangerous.
Researchers from NATO’s Strategic Communications Center of Excellence recently conducted an experiment, they with virtually very little cash and whole lot of social media were able to easily identify roughly 150 soldiers, because of that, they were able to locate multiple battalions, actually track troop movements, and convince service members to leave their posts and engage in other “undesirable behavior.”
Which really is not that difficult with just a little information gained using social media with regards to the subject. Foreign States can and do use social media in an effort to identify and target NATO forces, but also, to manipulate those NATO forces.
This is quite frankly scary for any soldier or troop serving in any military anywhere in the world because quite a few service men and women worldwide use social media when deployed to keep in touch with loved one’s when they can’t utilize a cell phone.
Likewise, people like posting things like pictures of their wedding, children, wishing a happy birthday to a loved one or happy anniversary to a wife or husband, celebrating a fellow troop member or mourning a fellow troop members death. Family members post on social media about service members as well. It is just one big ball of thread if you will.
And with the right information, in the wrong hands, the reality is, more and more people can be persuaded to do things or act on things that they normally would not when presented with a free pass, or the perfect opportunity or manipulated in such a way that they fear not doing what they are told to do in certain situations.
People are sharing secrets, they are more easily manipulated and a lot easier to con especially when faced with some type of threat all thanks to the use of social media.
According to researcher Nora Biteniece; “The researchers used Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other popular social media sites to find valuable information, particularly exploitable information, like a serviceman having a wife and also being on dating apps.”
US Army Col. Liam Collins wrote in Army Magazine last summer; “The Russians are adept at identifying Ukrainian positions by their electrometric signatures, in one tactic, soldiers receive texts telling them that they are ‘surrounded and abandoned.’ Minutes later, their families receive a text stating, ‘Your son is killed in action,’ which often prompts a call or text to the soldiers. Minutes later, soldiers receive another message telling them to ‘retreat and live,’ followed by an artillery strike to the location where a large group of cellphones was detected.”
In 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Russians were hacking the cellphones of NATO soldiers to “gain operational information, gauge troop strength and to intimidate soldiers.”
As you can imagine, that caused some panic, so naturally out of fear Estonian troops were being forced by their superior officers to jump in the lake to enforce the strict “no smartphones” policy.
Years ago, I worked with someone from the FBI on educating people about identity theft and this was back in the early 2000’s before it was really a thing, we both knew we were sitting on a bomb because of the way society was changing and using technology more and more. His golden rule was do not reveal too much personal information about yourself in the digital world, for instance social media and that my friends was just as social media was getting started.
Even I have been guilty of sharing too much personal information on social media, I think we all have once or twice. In the last year though, I have not really updated any personal information other than to repost some really old pictures on Facebook from before I lost someone close to me, and even more honest, I rarely if ever go onto Facebook these days because Facebook collects and does not protect as recent news has shown, any of our personal information.
Think about this if you will, if NATO troops can be fooled so too can an average person who is utilizing social media on dating sites, signed up for a newsletter, even youtube, It’s not all ones car loan company who is selling our information, we are basically giving it away for free these days.
Cristal M Clark