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Turkish army to impose strict social media ban on soldiers after security breaches and ambushes

Turkish army to impose strict social media ban on soldiers after security breaches and ambushes
Turkish army to impose strict social media ban on soldiers after security breaches and ambushes

 


Levent Kenez/Stockholm

An amendment to the Turkish Armed Forces Personnel Law, which introduces new restrictions on soldiers' use of social media, was passed by the Turkish Parliament on Wednesday. The legislation aims to address security concerns following recent incidents of escapes and ambushes.

Under the new regulations, soldiers are now strictly prohibited from using social media platforms. The ban aims to prevent the dissemination of sensitive information that could compromise military operations and endanger personnel. The move follows several security breaches attributed to the misuse of social media by military personnel.

Previous orders already banned soldiers from using cellphones capable of taking photos and videos during military operations, with disobedience leading to investigations for insubordination. However, this is the first time the military's own disciplinary rules have been changed.

Videos of Turkish soldiers posted on TikTok reach a wide audience

With a new article added to the Personnel Law, it is now prohibited to publish “the military identity of oneself or another service member, military information, documents, location information or any visual material and audio containing any of these elements, such as images, writings, photos, audio recordings and videos, via radio, television, Internet, social networks, newspapers, magazines, books and all other media tools .

Article 5 of the recently approved legislation regulates the use of social media by military personnel:

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According to military experts contacted by Nordic Monitor, there are ongoing problems with the use of cell phones and social media in the Turkish military, particularly issues related to conscripts completing their mandatory military service. They mentioned that during Turkish military operations, notably in northern Iraq and Syria, soldiers revealed sensitive information, including on the location of units, which led to legal proceedings against some soldiers for insubordination.

Experts have specifically said that videos on TikTok have serious security flaws. They also noted that interacting with these videos affected soldiers' concentration and that the use of cell phones at guard posts created security concerns. Additionally, they pointed out that TikTok videos depicting military operations are frequently shared by nationalist groups, creating a trend that impacts discipline in the ranks.

Regulating soldiers' use of social media isn't just about security concerns. In the past, videos revealing poor living conditions in soldiers' barracks have often sparked controversy. Luxurious military lodges in major cities and comparisons to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's palaces have drawn criticism, highlighting poor conditions for soldiers. Additionally, transporting soldiers from one city to another using fruit trucks also received backlash. Some soldiers had shared videos on social media showing them being transported in a dangerous manner, sitting in the back of pickup trucks.

In December 2023, following two separate attacks by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization, in the Hakurk region of northern Iraq, images surfaced on social media, detailing the inadequate physical condition of the bases, including poor neighborhoods. and insufficient security measures. It was clear that these images had been captured by soldiers stationed in the area using their cell phones.

Public outrage over these images led the Department of Defense to issue a directive banning the presence of cell phones with recording capabilities in these base areas, except for authorized personnel. The videos broadcast showed tents buried under the snow. In a region where military logistics and aid delivery are extremely difficult, the soldiers' presence has been questioned on social media, with calls for the government to provide answers. Additionally, the videos claimed that the bases' electronic systems were not working.

In 2020, a soldier who was performing his mandatory military service shared photos of himself in military uniform in a military unit on Facebook, leading to a lawsuit for insubordination. The court acquitted the defendant, noting that no ban on social networks had been communicated to him. Following an appeal by the military prosecutor, the case was referred to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which overturned the verdict, finding that due to the lack of guidelines on the use of social media, the soldier did not could be held responsible.

Under the new legislation, soldiers and officers may be required to comply with social media regulations without the need for separate notification.

Sources

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2/ https://nordicmonitor.com/2024/06/turkish-military-enforces-strict-social-media-ban-for-soldiers-after-security-breaches-and-ambushes/

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