Taliban insurgents have posed as "attractive women" on Facebook to befriend soldiers and gather intelligence about operations, an Australian defence study has claimed.
Anonymity on the internet has made it a common practice for men, posing as women, befriending people on Facebook. The tactic it seems, has been employed by the Taliban in the warzones of Afghanistan to attract Nato soldiers!
An Australian defence study has claimed that the Taliban in Afghanistan were posing as “attractive women” on the popular social networking website, to befriend soldiers in order to gather intelligence about operations in the country.
Popular UK daily, The Telegraph reported on Tuesday that Australian soldiers, about to be deployed to Afghanistan, were in particular being briefed on being wary about these fake profiles being used to collect information.
Soldiers also risk betraying sensitive information by posting pictures or updates tagged with their location, according to the federal government review of social media use in the armed forces.
The review, reported by Australia’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper, warns troops to beware of “fake profiles – media personnel and enemies create fake profiles to gather information.
“For example, the Taliban have used pictures of attractive women as the front of their Facebook profiles and have befriended soldiers.”
Amongst the 1577 defence personnel surveyed for the review, many trusted their social media contacts and complacent of the risks of divulging information, adding that 58 per cent of defence staff had no social media training.
The review further warned: “Most did not recognise that people using fake profiles, perhaps masquerading as school friends, could capture information and movements. Few consider the possibilities of data mining and how patterns of behaviour can be identified over time.”
The Sunday Telegraph had said that the review also recommended friends and family of troops to be wary of giving away information on social media, including soldier’s names, ranks and locations.
It is noteworthy that several soldiers interviewed for the review suggested a blanket ban on social media sites.
“I see too many members who post info/pics of themselves which identify … what unit they belong to and where they are serving,” one said.
The Australian Department of Defence was working on a new set of social media guidelines for troops, the newspaper reported.
Recently five Australian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in two separate incidents, by an Afghan wearing a soldier’s uniform and in a helicopter crash.