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Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday, September 4, said that soldiers cannot be stopped from using smartphones and social media but there has to be discipline in its usage.

He said he had been advised to keep soldiers away from smartphones and social media, but that was not possible, so best to allow it.

“Social media is here to stay, soldiers will use social media. Our adversary will use social media for psychological warfare and deception, we must leverage it to our advantage,” the Army Chief was quoted as saying by ANI news agency.

According to reports, the government wanted soldiers to be kept away from social media. The policy for social media use in the military came under sharp focus when a rash of videos emerged on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter of soldiers critical of the army or their seniors.

Recently, the subject came back in the media glare after a Lieutenant Colonel posted in Jabalpur was honey trapped by the Pakistani intelligence through social media.

“We have received advice that we should advise our soldiers to stay away from social media. Can you deny a soldier from the possession of a smartphone?” General Rawat questioned.

“If you can’t prevent usage of smartphone, best to allow it, but important to have means of imposing discipline,” he added.

“In modern day warfare, info-warfare is important and within it, we have started talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI). If we have to leverage AI to our advantage, we must engage through social media as a lot of what we wish to gain as part of AI will come via social media,” General Bipin Rawat said, according to ANI.

According to a report by India Today, the defence ministry guidelines for social media use by armed forces personnel say that they should not:

  •     watch porn on Facebook/social networking sites
  •     use photo in uniform as profile pic on WhatsApp/Facebook
  •     click advertisements on social sites alluring for prizes/awards
  •     expose official identity on such sites
  •     upload pictures with weapon on such sites even in civil uniform
  •     reveal their rank, unit name and location or anything related to your  work
  •     accept friend request from unknowns
  •     allow family members to post/mention their profession on sites
  •     post any picture with anything related to military as background
  •     store/ save any information related to military in computer/laptops
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