In one of the stranger news stories to emerge this week, Australia’s Daily Telegraph is reporting that soldiers in Afghanistan are facing a new threat when it comes to fighting the Taliban. Instead of attacking soldiers with IEDs and AK47s, the Taliban are apparently trying to conquer a new battlefield: Facebook.
The story isn’t as crazy as you may think, and it’s actually quite a clever plan. The Taliban is setting up profiles of attractive women on Facebook and then sending messages to Australian soldiers. In some cases, all someone has to do is respond to a message in order to give a stranger access to their complete Facebook profile.
Whether they add the fake Facebook hotties as friends, or they simply respond to the sexy messages that they send, the risk is easily as great. When the Taliban have full access to an Australian soldier’s profile, they can view information about that soldier’s family, division, friends, and whatever information the soldiers share through status updates.
Making matters worse is the fact that many soldiers are now ‘geo-tagging’ their pictures. They add a geographic location to the pictures they upload on Facebook. Once the Taliban can see their profile, they can connect geographic locations with the location of enemy troops. When pictures of camps, fortifications, equipment, and other structures start to be upload, the risk becomes even greater.
Facebook terrorism might seem like a silly, minor threat, but it’s not. Although it’s unknown how much intelligence (if any) has been leaked as a result of the new Facebook attacks, the threat has become serious enough that the Australian military is now briefing soldiers about social media awareness. The military is urging soldiers to crank up their Facebook privacy settings and delete any compromising pictures or statuses they may have uploaded.
And, of course, don’t respond to suspiciously friendly and attractive female strangers over Facebook. That’s a good tip for anybody to follow – no matter how attractive their profile picture may be.
Apparently, lonely Australian soldiers aren’t the only ones who have been targeted. There have also been messages sent to other allied soldiers in Afghanistan, all of which have the common goal of identifying enemy troops and monitoring their location.
In the past, Facebook has been used to send all sorts of PC viruses, but having the Taliban target soldiers through Facebook is an entirely different story. In any case, make sure your Facebook privacy settings are turned up – you never know who is looking for you on the world’s largest social networking site.