The US Air Force has warned its troops that using Facebook or other social networking sites could mean they accidently reveal their location to the enemy. The US has about 95,000 troops in Afghanistan and 50,000 in Iraq.
At one time the cautionary phrase was that “loose lips sink ships”, but in today’s technological society dangers now extend beyond the danger of a conversation being overhead.
The warning, posted on an internal website and sent to commanders, concerns new GPS based technology that allows users of some sites to pinpoint their location on the map. It said that careless use could have “devastating operations security and privacy implications”.
Air Force officials have advised their staff that on most sites users can adjust privacy settings to enable or disable the geo-location features. I would hope that the warnings aren’t really necessary, but I suppose you can’t take too many chances.
Presumably American troops have also been advised not to accept friend requests from anyone they don’t know, and not to publish status updates like “going out on patrol now”.
Perhaps Osama bin Laden is poised in his cave with his Blackberry, scanning for location changes amongst large numbers of American troops.
Ironically, the USAF has its own Facebook page.