Israeli soldiers preach Facebook vigilantism
Now, there is one more reason for Israel to hate Facebook: not only does it empower Holocaust deniers, it also helps to promote terrorism… According to a post on the excellent Babylon & Beyond blog of the Los Angeles Times, this week Israel’s General Security Service warned "against unsolicited approaches on social neworks by strangers ...
Now, there is one more reason for Israel to hate Facebook: not only does it empower Holocaust deniers, it also helps to promote terrorism...
Now, there is one more reason for Israel to hate Facebook: not only does it empower Holocaust deniers, it also helps to promote terrorism…
According to a post on the excellent Babylon & Beyond blog of the Los Angeles Times, this week Israel’s General Security Service warned "against unsolicited approaches on social neworks by strangers offering meetings abroad or easy money and seeking information". So if you live in Israel and you ever bothered to reply to that only son of an African king seeking to make you rich in exchange for a few hundred dollars, you have compromised national security.
But the real nugget comes at the end of the post where they retell the story of Eran Tartakovsky, a 28-year old who took it upon himself to police the online behavior of Israelis serving in the military:
Eran Tartakovski is a 28-year-old engineering student. A year and a half ago, while backpacking in the Far East like many young Israelis, he chose Facebook to update the folks back home and save him multiple e-mails. While wandering on the social network, he found himself looking at a pretty girl, a smiling soldier. But it’s what was behind her that really got his attention: a detailed army ops map complete with sensitive information that could endanger many people. So blown away that he wasn’t enjoying his trip, he decided to do something about it.
Tartakovski opened his own Facebook group to form a neighborhood watch called "Protecting our IDF." It serves as a war room of sorts, a headquarters. Anyone identifying compromising information in the open is invited to contact the group; members approach the individual and point out the problem. Most people cooperate and remove carelessly revealed sensitive information. Those who don’t are reported. In one case, Tartakovski wrote an uncooperative soldier with everything he knew about him. It was a lot. Stupefied that a perfect stranger could learn so much about him from his profile, the soldier got the picture.
A year and a half later, the group is as active as ever, with nearly 3000 members. Its founder believes peers are more effective than commanders, educators or any external element of systems where hierarchy often breeds antagonism.
Now, I am not sure which element of the story I find more disturbing: the panopticum-like transparency of online activities of Israeli soldiers or the heavy reliance on crowdsourcing by Tartakovski et al (I bet he would never succeed in policing every uploaded photo if he was doing it by himself).
Are we witnessing the birth of Facebook vigilantism? After all, this could be the logical counterpart to the citizen journalism practiced by those naive Israelis who upload their photos to social networking sites…
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