Can’t use Facebook, post on Twitter — new social media rules for Navy after ‘spy ring bust’

Can’t use Facebook, post on Twitter — new social media rules for Navy after ‘spy ring bust’

The 85 apps banned/restricted for Indian Navy personnel include Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, Viber, Tumblr, Reddit and Truecaller.

Indian Navy | Photo by Manisha Mondal

Indian Navy personnel | Representational photo | Photo by Manisha Mondal

New Delhi: The Navy has banned or restricted the use of several social media apps for its personnel, including Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Linkedin, YouTube, Telegram and Signal, ThePrint has learnt. 

According to sources in the Navy, the force issued fresh guidelines last month that altogether affect 85 apps.

The new guidelines come about a month after the Navy banned Facebook and the use of smartphones on naval premises and warships in light of an alleged espionage racket involving seven personnel. 

It had said at the time that additional safeguards, including bans on messaging apps, blogging, content sharing, and e-commerce sites, were under consideration.  

The fresh guidelines, the sources said, will also affect the use of other smart devices, including watches, on naval premises. They also talk about “deterrent measures” for lapses.

The guidelines will be incorporated into a 2015 Navy order on the use of social media. 

The Navy, the sources said, will organise training capsules on the issue for naval personnel at the southern naval command in Kochi.

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Banned & restricted

According to sources privy to the guidelines, the apps whose use will be banned include Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, Viber, Tumblr and Reddit. PUBG [a video game with chat facility] and Truecaller [which mines users’ contacts to identify unknown callers] fall in the same category.

Restricted use of apps such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Telegram, Signal, YouTube, Skype, Quora and Linkedin will be allowed, the sources said. Restricted use means, for instance, that personnel can browse through Twitter but not upload any content.

Social media guidelines for defence forces are increasingly common in order to secure confidential information. The US military, for example, has a handbook on the use of social media. Last year, the Indian Army asked officers holding crucial posts to consider deactivating Facebook accounts. 

However, a senior Navy officer said the fresh guidelines might alienate naval personnel, particularly the younger lot, who use the internet frequently. 

“One should adopt changing technologies,” the officer said. “Sensitisation and education regarding the usage of social media are the need of the hour.”

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