Top IDF General to Soldiers: Stay Off WhatsApp!

IDF general warns too many officers communicating with their soldiers via social media in potential risk to army.

Yaakov Levi ,

WhatsApp and Facebook (illustration)
WhatsApp and Facebook (illustration)

Too many IDF officers are communicating with their soldiers via social media – especially WhatsApp, said IDF General Yitzchak Brik, Ombudsman for Soldiers in the Defense Ministry.

Brik's job is to record and examine complaints by soldiers against commanders and higher officials, determining whether to impose disciplinary procedures on officers for mistreating soldiers or otherwise acting inappropriately.

Many of the complaints he has gotten recently were communicated to his office via social media – leading him to investigate the use of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and other apps in the army. In a report on his office's activities in 2014, Brik said that it appeared that far too much army “business” was being done on social media, especially WhatsApp.

The IDF cannot operate as a social network,” Brik wrote in his report. “Many commanders are using apps to send instructions to their troops on activities and even missions by 'remote control.' These methods do not enable us to keep track of missions and activities for evaluation afterwards. We recommend that, at least during missions, that soldiers put their smartphones in storage and turn them off, either leaving them with base officials or, in the field, inside their equipment bags, opening them only when they are not actively engaged in a mission.”

Many officers, the report added, believed that WhatsApp was a secure system, because only individuals who are invited can participate in discussions and get messages. However, the report said, the app is not secure and can be hacked.

In the report, Brik said that his office had dealt with 6,711 complaints by IDF soldiers in 2014, 61.6% of which were found to have been justified.