Asia Minute: India’s Navy Bans Sailors from Facebook

Dec 31, 2019

Social media and smart phones are important tools for many military families to stay in touch — especially during this holiday season. But that has changed for service members in at least one country in the Indo Asia Pacific.

India’s Navy has banned all personnel from using Facebook. And smart phones now cannot be carried into military bases or dockyards – or onboard Navy warships.

That order went out on Friday, taking effect immediately and sparking what the Times of India called some “disquiet in the ranks.”

Earlier this month, seven Indian sailors were arrested for leaking sensitive information to women the military says were agents for the government of Pakistan.

Last month, the Indian Army asked officers holding “sensitive appointments” to delete their Facebook accounts because of similar concerns.

Since this past March, members of Russia’s military have been banned from using smartphones while on duty — and the nature of what they can write about on social media has also been restricted.

For U.S. military personnel, the rules are a bit different. The official U.S. Army website specifically says “The Army encourages soldiers and their families to use social media to stay connected and tell the Army’s story.” The site goes on to caution “there are security risks and regulations that soldiers and their families . . . must be aware of before posting.”

India’s Navy says “additional safeguards” are still under review when it comes to the digital behavior of military personnel.