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Middle East

Israeli troops hit with social media ban

Military cracks down on online sharing after series of photo scandals, but says limits are due to "security concerns".

Last Modified: 07 Jun 2013 11:19
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A social media ban was last placed in 2010 when a video showed a soldier dancing by a blindfolded Palestinian [EPA]

Some Israeli soldiers face a new crackdown on social media use as the military moves to limit or ban the outright use of networks by some classified units.

The decision comes days after a group of female Israeli soldiers posing for photos wearing nothing but underwear and combat gear surfaced on Facebook, prompting widespread media coverage.

It was the latest in a number of embarrassing social media incidents that the Israeli military has endured over the past few years.

Israel's military said that the planned restrictions were not related to the photos.

"These restrictions stem from information security concerns," said a military spokesman. Issues of morality or decorum were "not addressed by this specific order."

In February, an Israeli soldier caused outrage with a photo published on a popular photo-sharing website that shows the crosshairs of a rifle aimed at the head of what appears to be a Palestinian boy.

The plan's draft creates three categories for social media use among Israeli soldiers.

Previous ban

Members of the most secretive units would not be allowed to have social media accounts, soldiers in less classified units would be banned from posting pictures of themselves on base or in uniform, and those serving in standard units would face no restrictions at all.

It was not clear when the restrictions would be placed, how they would be enforced, or what punishments would be meted out for violating them.

In 2010, the military announced a blanket ban on social media use among soldiers while on base.

That policy also took effect shortly after a social media incident, in which video of an Israeli soldier dancing suggestively around a blindfolded Palestinian woman was posted on YouTube. The military also cited security in imposing that ban.

It is unclear if the ban is still technically in effect. If so, it is widely ignored by Israeli soldiers.

The military spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said commanders currently have the discretion to set social media rules for their units.

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