Army has barred its officers from being part of any social media group where non-serving persons, including Army veterans, are members. Even the officer-only groups, it said, would be checked periodically for breach of security.
The directive issued last month requires all serving officers to exit WhatsApp and other social media groups except those consisting only serving officers whose identity could be verified. The new policy also restrained family members from posting information about serving officers on social media.
In the officers-only social media groups, the directive allowed posts on general enquiries and assistance. For any location-specific communication, the officers have been advised to go “one-on-one” and use the military tel service.
According to Army sources, the move followed attempts by foreign intelligence to gather information using social media platforms. “This is a cautionary step in line with the guidelines the Army keeps issuing from time to time. This is a new-age security requirement and it will not be right to call this censorship,” said a senior Army officer.
A section of the Army, however, felt that the step was aimed at curbing criticism. “There is obvious discontent which the establishment thinks is fanned by the veterans. The retired officers are often the more outspoken ones in these groups but then we have always been one family,” said an officer.
Last month, UP Police and military Intelligence spotted an attempt by a Pakistani spy to use bots and hack into computer systems of nearly 100 officials, including many from the military between 2015 and 2018.