No Social Networking for Indian Army

In a one-size-fits-all move, the Indian government has ordered the Indian army to stay away from Social networking of all flavors. This order applies to the 1.13 million strong Indian army which includes 36,000 officers. This ban is unsurprising because India’s citizenry is battling web filtering policies, although the government wants it so badly. Banning all kinds of social media is what can be considered “mega filtering.”

Indian army soldiers march during the main Republic Day parade on Rajpath in New Delhi, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. India is marking it's 62nd Republic Day with parades across the country. The Indian government has recently ordered a ban of social media accounts by army personnel (AP)

This is a complete ban on the use of social networks involves anyone employed in the Indian army. With the ban, all existing social media profiles are ordered to be deleted.

Why Such an Extreme?

The ban isn’t without its reasons. The Indian government has tracked four military personnel who were leaking key information about the locations of warships and other such sensitive intelligence over social networking sites. When national security is at stake, it isn’t such a hard decision.

We all know camera mobile phones aren’t allowed in sensitive areas. For example, Singapore’s army was provided with camera-less iPhones to get around the restriction against having cameras in sensitive installations and still have the luxury of using a smartphone. India’s social media ban is less accommodating. I don’t expect there would be any kind of workarounds to this ban. Maybe the government should conduct boot camps to help the personnel deal with removing their social media profiles.

Megaphones, Bans and Filters

Social media has been posing some big problems to governments across the world. China has disallowed foreign social media sites to set shop in the country. It in turn, this has promoted home-grown social media services which adhere to government’s framework of careful monitoring, and skillful filtering and identity tracking, including the popular Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo. Skype has agreed to do the same in China, though, which means the Microsoft-owned company might be willing to offer concessions in order to enter this huge market.

Twitter has recently introduced a new filtering and censorship policy to make the job of filtering easy for any authority which needs it. It’s anybody’s guess that Twitter wants to enter China very badly. But the filtering facility can be used by any government with equal affect. Thailand has become the first government to actually approve of Twitter’s latest filtering facility.

Natural disasters across the world have proved how effective Twitter can be in such situations. Everybody’s chipper about the new megaphones they were handed. With SOPA, PIPA, and selective filtering by respective countries it’s proving that all the ants with the megaphones could soon be staring at a filtered megaphone.

Next time you try to play a tune on the megaphone which you took for granted for so long, this might be the message:  Sorry I don’t play that tune anymore.