Think Tank India
Seminar | 25-Sep-2018
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Defence Researched Institute in India

PROCEEDINGS OF SEMINAR ON “SOCIAL MEDIA & THE ARMED FORCES”

BY

BRIG NAVJOT SINGH BEDI, SENIOR FELLOW, CENJOWS

04-05 SEP 2018

 

Day-1 (04 Sep 2018)

 

1. A seminar on Social Media and the Armed Forces was conducted on 04 Sep 2018, at the Kothari Auditorium, DRDO Bhawan and on and 05 Sep 2018 at Purple Bay, Jodhpur Hostel, under the aegis of Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS), HQ IDS. South Asia Defence and Strategic Review were the associate partners. The event had the endorsement and sponsorship from big names in the social media and communication industry viz, COAI, Facebook, Vodafone and Instagram. The two day seminar had three sessions and two panel discussions on the first day, in which experts in the field deliberated upon contemporary issues. The speakers and panelists comprised a healthy mix of eminent defence personalities, both serving and retired personalities from the legal system, professionals in the field of communication technology and speakers from foreign Armies and Embassies. On the second day on 05 Sep 2018, a workshop on Employment Opportunities and Exploitation of Social Media was held at Purple Bay, Jodhpur Hostel, New Delhi. Col AK Sharma (Retd), Editor of South Asia Defence and Strategic Review extended a warm welcome to all participants and delegates. He stated that four years ago, Social Media as a topic of discussion for a seminar for the Armed Forces had not been found acceptable and presence of Armed Forces personnel on social media had been banned. These orders were however soon revoked once the relevance of social media for the Armed Forces was appreciated by all concerned.

 

INAUGURAL SESSION

Proliferation of and Exploiting Capabilities of Social Media;

Changes, Challenges & Opportunities

 

2. Welcome Address: Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, PVSM, AVSM, SM (Retd), Director CENJOWS. Welcoming the Chief Guest General Bipin Rawat, UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM, ADC, Chief of the Army Staff and other dignitaries and the audience, including friends from friendly foreign Armed Forces, Director CENJOWS elaborated on the importance of Social Media and its impact on the Armed Forces. Social Media is all pervasive and all-encompassing and is affecting our personal and official lives. He stated that social media has changed the way we think, spend, act, establish & maintain relationships-; in fact it has changed our way of life. The way we fight has also undergone a change and we need to factor in how social media impacts a soldiers war fighting abilities. On establishing contact with the adversary, immediate updates are provided on social media. Social media drives public opinion which will drive decisions and it impacts morale both in a positive and negative manner. Social media has also brought in major changes in the way the Armed Forces will fight, function and lead. The power of Social Media is both bad and good and the reach is unmatched. These days a person is known by the No of followers he has on social media. As military leaders, we need to fully comprehend, harness and exploit this power and reach.

3. New age warfare is Multi Domain Warfare. In Warfare version 1.0, power flowed from the barrel of the gun. In version 2.0, money was the deciding factor and gave way to knowledge in version 3.0. Information and Data are the drivers of power in version 4.0 & 5.0 respectively. With this being the backdrop, he said that we need to find answers whether Data Security is in place. Director CENJOWS informed the audience that an average Indian checks his mobile phone every 80 secs. These days everyone is a keyboard warrior and he/she feels that like Capt Liddle Hart, they can impart knowledge to senior officers on what needs to be done. Everyone, especially in the veteran community can have an opinion and render advise but we need to introspect on whether the same is required. Social Media is so powerful a tool that it has been alleged that the outcome of the US presidential elections was also affected by it. We have a social media policy what we need is a pragmatic and implementable SM strategy as also structures like a DG IW with three verticals ADG SM, ADG PI and ADG Psy Ops. Today we have a galaxy of top level experts from the military, academia and the social media platforms amongst us for this day long discussion to educate us on the exploitation of Social Media in the Armed Forces. Thereafter Director CENJOWS introduced the Chair and Key Speakers of the Inaugural Session.

 

4. Inaugural Address by Lt Gen Satish Dua, PVSM, UYSM, SM, VSM, ADC, CISC. Lt Gen Satish Dua, PVSM, UYSM, SM, VSM, ADC, CISC, expressed proud privilege to be delivering the inaugural address of the seminar. He said social media is a contemporary topic and of relevance to all of us. He thanked CENJOWS for their contribution to research since their inception for a decade. He congratulated CENJOWS for their foresight to generate policy options. Proliferation of social media has exposed the limitations of policy and oversight which were present in the nation state which had regulatory framework. The CISC stated that three years ago, when he had taken over as the GOC of HQ 15 Corps, the misguided youth used to cover their faces before hoisting Pak/ ISIS flags. However within an year, few of the youth had uncovered their faces and had started posing along with weapons for photographs. It was through Social Media, that these terrorists like Burhan Waani acquired a Robin Hood like image. This ladies and gentlemen is the power of Social Media. The younger generation connects through the social media. Social media doesn’t just give information, but interacts while giving information. The phenomenon of present day “Breaking News” first explodes on WhatsApp or Twitter much before TV News Channels. So it is important for the Armed Forces to put across their version of the story first on the social media. While 10 years ago, not responding to an adverse newspaper report was possible, yet the same is not an option in the present scenario. Social Media is a present day reality which cannot be ignored by the Armed Forces. In fact in today’s digital driven world, avoiding the social media may be counterproductive because rumours may begin to flow. And rumour is like butter; very easy to spread but difficult to un-spread.

 

5. Perception is becoming more important than facts and it is very important that we in the armed forces connect on the social media. The fallout of social media is on equal measure on the armed forces also and there is a need to contain its negative fallout. The US Presidential elections is testimony to the fact that Social Media and Big Data Analytics have come together and are now able to influence those who are likely to be in power. There are some inherent contradictions between the Military and the Media; while the former is secretive and centralized, the latter is open, flat, spontaneous and ubiquitous. We need to evolve and do things in time. Three years ago, twitter handle was only available with the ADGPI; it later proliferated down to all command HQs and is now available at all Corps HQs. We need to engage over social media and there is a need to identify measures and guidelines for usage of social media. The regulatory framework for social media is easier said than done and is a daunting task. Social Media managers need to advise us as to what to do and how to do it, to discern the target audience, civil population and the international audience. There is a need to identify the changes required in the Information Warfare domain, the aspect of self regulation and aligning our cyber security agencies with other organisations. A body of 1.4 million serving soldiers, seamen and airmen, excluding the veteran fraternity, is a sizeable chunk of humanity, which if harnessed in the right way will help put across our point of view. The low cost and high impact approach should be adopted for optimum results.

 

6. Keynote Address: General Bipin Rawat, UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM, ADC, COAS. General Bipin Rawat, UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM, ADC,COAS complemented CENJOWS and HQ IDS for organising a seminar on a contemporary topic and said that social media is gaining momentum at an exponential rate and the Armed Forces need to keep pace with these changes, else we would be left behind. It has been acknowledged that information is a pillar of national power so it’s logical that the armed forces be associated with it. It was earlier believed that media must be controlled and managed but the present scenario necessitates regular engagement with media to prevent false perceptions. A two way communication between the armed forces and society is imperative to project a correct image. We need to communicate from time to time as to what we wish to do and what we want to do. This communication should be on a two way platform and we must convey to the people/ organisations who matter. At the same time we must be open to ideas.

 

7. Reading is becoming a dying habit and information is now coming from social media. If knowledge is power then the same needs to be acquired through social media. Information Warfare (IW), is important for modern day warfare and in Information Warfare, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play an important role. In modern warfare Artificial Intelligence (AI) must be leveraged by engagement through social media as what we desire from social media will be provided by AI. Any directions issued by armed forces for its troops must be implementable, for example, banning smart phones for soldiers is not feasible in today’s age of fast moving technological advancements and it will be pragmatic to educate soldiers on correct use of social media. Our adversaries will use social media to gain an advantage over us hence we must also leverage this platform. Social media must be used to educate the soldier and it should empower him to combat proxy war/insurgency/terrorism/psychological warfare. To achieve this aim we need an organisation to leverage social media. A study for re-structuring the Army HQs has been ordered which will look into these aspects. In order to make social media more relevant, there is a need to analyse whether a separate DG Information Warfare (DGIW) is required or will the existing structures of ADG MO (IW) and ADG PI be able to meet the requirement. The COAS remarked that he had successfully engaged with the media without having felt the requirement of a smart phone. So though ways and means are available, yet this in no way implies that troops be denied the use of mobiles. The Army has developed apps like ARPAN to reach out to the soldier and to leverage the power of the social media, so we cannot deny the use of smart phones to our troops. The COAS hoped that the seminar will bring out implementable solutions to improve our engagement with social media.

 

8. Special Address by AVM Mohan Rao, VM, VSM , AD Cdr HQ Western Air Command (WAC). AVM Mohan Rao, VM, VSM, AD Cdr HQ WAC, gave a talk on Managing Perceptions and Exploiting Capabilities of Social Media. He began the talk by recalling the prophetic words of William James who had said “Thoughts become perceptions, Perceptions become reality; Alter your thoughts, alter your reality.” The Air officer said that Perception Management has been used in military operations under the ambit of Psy Ops in attempts to gain advantages over enemies. The goal is to alter the perception of the opposing party in a way that provides advantage and can be used successfully to score a victory. This has now become an integral part of Info warfare. Militaries use social media increasingly; Israel, Russia, US. UK has raised a brigade (77Brigade) specifically to deal with Social Media and Info warfare.

 

9. In bygone eras communication was conducted over great distances with the help of written letters or documents delivered by hand. As technology developed means of communication evolved and the 20th century saw fast changes in communication technology, with the creation of the internet by DARPA of USA. The subsequent explosion of social interaction platforms led to the “Social Media” ecosystem. New social networks have kept abreast with changing tastes and needs with encrypted, instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram. By January 2017, more than 100 million monthly users became active having access to a tremendous variety of social networking sites creating an environment of maximum reach and person-to-person communication. YouTube came out in 2005, creating an entirely new way for people to communicate and share visually with each other.

 

10. Facebook and Twitter became available to users throughout the world by 2006 and till date remain amongst the most popular social networks on the Internet.

 

11. Interestingly, to build a subscriber base of 50 million subscribers it took good old radio about 34 years, 15 years for TV, four years for internet & 1.5 years for Facebook! The evolution of social media has come a long way. From handwritten letters over great distances we had first piece of mail around 250 BC. A leap in technology occurred when the Gutenberg printing-press was invented in the 15th century, followed by the telegraph and then of course telephone and radio in 1890. The 20th century witnessed proliferation of computers and internet. Office computers proliferated to home computers and Internet relay chats started in 1990. Six degrees became the first recognisable social media site from 1997 to 2001. Then the proliferation of YouTube, Facebook, etc took place. The latest social media platform is telegram- a cloud based instant messaging service which provides optional end-to-end encrypted messaging with self-destruct timings. Today in the digital era, social media plays an important part in managing perceptions due to its extensive reach, speed and penetration. Perception management has been used in military operations under the ambit of Psy Ops in attempts to gain advantages over enemies. The goal is to alter the perception of the opposing party in a way that provides advantage and can be used successfully to score a victory.

 

12. Exploitation of social media however needs to be handled with caution. Risks of social media fueled public relations disasters are very real. These are highlighted by viral campaigns of voters being influenced during US presidential elections using Cambridge Analytica data or a spate of lynching in the country due to spreading of fake news. It is said a picture is worth a thousand words and hence today photo-shopped pictures have become the most used for propaganda tool for influencing people. The risk of social media being used for unintended purposes such as brain washing, causing panic and unrest is real. As terror organisations such as Hamas, ISIS, Kashmir Terrorists, LET etc are also using it extensively, hence, it is of paramount importance for the state to monitor the social media and step in whenever antisocial elements attempt to twist or manage perceptions and psychology of people. However if properly utilized social media has been found to be highly effective especially in disaster management as was observed in the recent Kerala flood relief operations. Stranded people were able to pass their location information to the defense forces engaged in the relief operations. The state needs to actively start monitoring and using the social media to correctly inform own population and adversely ‘influence’ the adversary, gauge public sentiment and to react to it.

 

13. While dwelling on the future trends in social networking, the Air Officer remarked that we cannot even speculate about the future of social networking, for in the fast-paced evolving scenario it has become one of the foremost ways of communication both personal and official and even extending advanced military level features such as end-to-end encryption and messages with self-destruct timers to the common man. The rules of engagement have shifted for monitoring agencies with adversaries exploiting the multidimensional encrypted platforms to influence people. Social media with its perils and boons is like a two edged sword. Since platforms like Twitter have enabled everyone to become a “citizen journalist” it is therefore being used in Psy Ops to spread rumours and misinformation. Issues particularly pertaining to the military are made viral on the social media to degrade morale and change public opinion. If the military does not tell its side of the story on the social media, people start believing whatever is being reported on the social media (Twitter/ Facebook etc). Hence, military public relations must have an active presence on the social media, especially on Twitter/ Whatsapp/ Facebook. Further, social media managers have to shoulder responsibility towards the society and ensure that their platform is not exploited by antisocial elements to de-stabilise the society. Individuals propagating mis-information or unverified information need to be made accountable for their actions. Conversely, social media should be used by the state to gauge public sentiment, take feedback and initiating pre-emptive action.

 

14. Though Armed Forces have their presence in social media, yet their reach is not significant. The Armed Forces need to develop and improve upon the digital skills to reach the entire population. If we can’t even reach our countrymen through social media, then perception management through social media for warfare remains only a dream. Social media is buzzing irrespective of our participation. By not participating, we are only favouring our enemies. It is time for armed forces to do more in this field and to act decisively.

 

15. Role Played by Social Media and Internet in Changing the World by Ashwani Rana , Head of Connectivity Policy- Central & South Asia, Facebook. Mr Ashwani Rana dwelt upon the role played by social media and internet in changing the world and improves lives. With information being easily available to all and with democratization of information, the power hierarchy has changed. Social media has accelerated this change many fold. Fear may not be the answer to deal with technology and denying armed forces access to social media may result in making them illiterate and being unable to grasp AI, which will be a reality within the next 15 years. While fear is a defeating strategy, understanding and knowledge is a winning strategy. Facebook provides a neutral platform, which is open to all to use its tools intelligently. Facebook is now home to over 1.86 billion people every month and WhatsApp has recently become the second billion-person platform in the Facebook family. Messenger connects 900m people around the world, and Instagram has revolutionised the way 500m people capture and share the world’s moments. However Facebook aims to connect literally every person on the planet to every other person, because this will make for a better, more open world. Doing that means solving a number of fundamental challenges.

 

16. There are over 200 million users of Facebook and WhatsApp in India itself. Amongst the presence of Global Defense Forces on Facebook, India takes the lead with the No of followers on Army, Air Force and Navy being 11 million, 0.4 million and 1 million respectively. The comparative figures for the US Army are 4.6 million, 2.7 million and 3 million respectively. Facebook’s commitment is to Empower Small & Medium Businesses in India, generate employment and help in reducing illiteracy and inequality within regions, which is the root cause of migration. Unemployment, Poor Educational Standards, Inequality and Business Difficulties are certain challenges faced by Indian Economy. In 2017, the official unemployment rate was just below 5%. The OECD report found that over 30% of people aged 15-29 in India were unemployed. Though there is a high percentage of English speakers but over 50% of Indian women are illiterate.  33% (268 million) of the population live on less than $1 per day.  Access to national and international markets and real time information is a major business challenge.

 

17. As part of Facebook’s commitment to support SMBs in India, few
programmatic initiatives taken were explained. These are the Digital Training Hub, She Means Business and Boost Your Business initiatives. The Digital Training Hub is a country specific (and not state specific) commitment. Digital training hubs to help entrepreneurs start and scale up businesses besides imparting digital skills to job-seekers have been established with curriculum in both English and Hindi. This also provides analytics to see where the product has been liked. She Means Business aims to bring women into the mainstream by helping them manage their businesses on Facebook. Over 25,000 women entrepreneurs have been trained across 16 states & 126 cities. Women need to be empowered because a literate lady implies a literate family. Boost Your Business program aims to upskill SMBs with Digital Marketing Skills to help them with Market Access. Over 2,50,000 entrepreneurs were trained, with the training being delivered in 14 languages across 18 states. Program, workshops for SMB’s start from 80 people in a room to 13,000 people learning Digital Marketing Skills. Facebook has also undertaken Boost Your Business Activities in Kashmir. Workshops were conducted at Baramulla, Uri & Boniyar and 20 children were hosted at FB Office from Gurez, Tangdhar and Kupwara. The key takeaways from these workshops were High Aspirational levels, requirement of mentorship and handholding, local heros to be nurtured and opportunities to interact with students from other parts of India. On the road ahead on economic growth initiatives in India, FB is open to develop programs to support Veterans and Spouses like launch of Community Boost programme .Facebook Jobs is another such programme launched in India.

 

18. 5 G Technologies and Tarang Sanchar by Col Vikram Tiwathia (Retd), DDG COAI. Col Vikram Tiwathia (Retd) said that the importance accorded by the Armed Forces to the topic of Social Media was evident from the fact that the during the last three years when the seminar had been held, it had been attended by either the CNS or the CAS or by the COAS. Mr Vikram Tiwathia brought out that India has enough cyber resources ( in terms of skin ware and expertise) available which can be used to improve the Op efficiency of armed forces but neither are these resources are not being utilised optimally nor is the pace of exploiting the same adequate. In India, it took 20 years for @ G networks to stabiles while the same was possible in 10 years for 3G networks and in 7-8 years for 4G networks. Nearly 55% of the country presently uses 4G network and 5G services will be launched shortly in India. Pilot 5G services have been launched and tested in South Korea and Japan intends to launch it by 2020.We in India and within the Armed Forces need to be 5G network ready. 5G network can be used for multiple tasks like high speed fixed wireless access, industrial manufacturing, education and training, integrating public and private transport networks, public safety and disaster management and smart logistics management.

 

19. It was brought out there is a need to draw up an action plan for use of social media by the armed forces and the industry will join up with the armed forces in this initiative. Soldiers, leaders and children are all impacted by social media and hence it is our bounded duty to understand this platform. The connectivity in the cantonments , which was earlier woefully inadequate due to paucity of mobile towers, has improved significantly post publication of the gazette notification on the right of way and hence no separate orders are required for installation of mobile towers in the cantonments. The armed forces personnel need to demand better connectivity as a right. The technology life span is reducing and hence we need to be in synchronization with technology advancement. The connectivity is also required as e procurement is now part of government policy. Col Vikram then explained the salient features of the like Tarang Sanchar platform, which show complete BTS network and nodes of all service providers on a map. The Pan India 2G/3G/4G Coverage indicates that out of a total of 18,76,383 BTS, about 9,11,688 (nearly 55%) used 4G networks. The Tarang Sanchar Portal also helps in locating cell towers in the area of interest. This portal also gives out whether the BTS are ground based, roof top mounted or wall mounted.

 

20. 5G Network is envisaged to accommodate Apps & Services with different latency, reliability & bandwidth. 5G or Fifth Generation mobile technology would provide a hyper-connected vision. A blend of pre-existing technologies covering 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi and others to allow higher coverage and availability, and higher network density in terms of cells and devices, will be available. The key differentiator will be greater connectivity as an enabler for Machine-to-Machine (M2M) services and the Internet of Things (IoT) will be created. This vision may include a new radio technology to enable low power, low throughput field devices with long duty cycles of ten years or more. Next-generation Radio Access Technology sets specific targets that new radio interfaces must meet in terms of data rates (faster than 1Gbps downlink) and latency (less than 1ms delay). 5G will initially operate in conjunction with existing 4G networks before evolving to fully standalone networks.

 

21. Six leading 5G use cases for India are High Speed Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), Education & Training, Public Safety and Disaster Management, Manufacturing in Industry 4.0, Integrated Public & Private Transport Networks and Smart Logistics Management. The speaker then gave five recommendations for the Armed Forces, listed as under:-

(a) Platforms like Tarang Sanchar, which show complete BTS network and nodes on a map, be made for the Armed Forces, for their dedicated service specific networks.

(b) MoD policy for installation of mobile towers in cantonments be simplified.

(c) Plug and play broadband be installed in armed forces establishment buildings.

 

(d) Dedicated team be formed to build expertise in 5G technology.

 

(e) Industry expertise in telecommunications and broadband be exploited.

SESSION 1

SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY, A REALITY CHECK

 

22. Chairman: Lt Gen VG Khandare, PVSM, AVSM, SM, (Retd), Former DG DIA & DCIDS (Int). The Chair introduced the panelists and invited them to put forth their point of view on this increasingly interesting subject.

 

23. Social Media Strategy in Military: Educating the Environment by Maj Gen Ashok Narula, AVSM, ADG PI. The focus of the presentation was on the importance of training personal on social media platforms, in implementing successful social media strategies in the Army and on leveraging social media to put across the perspective of the Indian Defence Forces. It was brought out that Mainstream Media was Defensive, High Cost, Low Impact, had longevity and the user is subservient. In comparison Social Media is Offensive, Low Cost, High Impact, Inclusive, Instant Reach, User created & harvested and can be used as an effective campaigning tool. Two salient points brought out were:-

 

(a) The speaker quoted McLuhan (in ‘Culture Is Our Business) and said that” While World War I and World War II were waged using armies and mobilized economies, World War III will be a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” As per him social media had certain preconditions & intent which were generation of ideas, leading to creation and sharing of content through networking & dissemination, with an aim to influence Group Dynamics. Social Media is always Web-Enabled and Interactive. The ecosystem involved a No of influencers, who could either be Media Houses, Pak & China, Mainstream Media, Social Media And of course Internal & Veterans

 

(b) Indian Army is present on all social media platforms. It’s largest audience is on Twitter which is the second fastest growing handle in govt category in India and is globally ranked 9th. On Facebook, it has the 2nd largest audience & is the 5th fastest growing handle in govt category in India and is globally ranked 3rd. Northern Command as well as Eastern command are also on Facebook. On YouTube it is the 4th largest you tube channel in govt category in India. While on Instagram, it is the top handle amongst all militaries of world.

 

24. The speaker also gave out the following points:-

 

  1. As part of the social media engineering Enhancing Social Media Monitoring, ADG PI is part of 726 WhatsApp groups including 77 new JCOs & OR groups. More than 150 Facebook pages and over 1000 plus Twitter handles are under observation. Constant analysis & dissemination of information is carried out. WhatsApp groups of IW & GS staff till Divisional HQs have been activated. Towards curating contemporary content, 126 small movies, 760 Gif images, 175 short stories & new narratives have been created and uploaded on social media platforms.

  2. In order to impart training, courses on media management are conducted at IIMC, IW courses are conducted at Army War College and MCTE Mhow, Capsule courses are held at CLAWS and lectures are delivered at schools of instructions & regimental centres. ARMAAN, ARPAN are two applications which have been developed in house.

  3. Social media is a power which can be leveraged. few of it’s positive potential’s are that it is the fastest means of passing messages, information & opinions, it contributes towards establishing a cohesive community and keeps a the check on internal health of an organization. It helps in curbing mis-information & in building goodwill and is an effective tool for internal communication.

 

  1. A pattern that has emerged is that whisper campaign starts off in the social media, gets picked by mass media and before we realise it, it’s the breaking news. Thus speed is of essence to check this malaise. The speaker then listed out few of the challenges that the Indian army was grappling with and the suggested way ahead.

  2. In order to shape initiatives, we need to establish truth, address aspirations, take few carry out initiatives & course correction, reinforce linkages, create an emotive & shareable contents, which ultimately leads to Image Projection. A Multi-modal approach is followed in all such endeavours and similar themes are played out in Coffee Table Book, Baatcheet, Yearly Themes, Media & Social Media campaigns. The aim is to keep Army always relevant, propel regiments & institutions, honour our martyrs, curb misinformation and establish truth, give effective rebuttals, put forth human interest stories, build relations with journalists & editors, cultivate influencers and exploit alternate media like FM Channels, Regional Media, AIR, Doordarshan and CRS.

  3. Social media has taken major stride in this century and security forces have equally benefited with its advantages and suffered its ills. Social media has got a wide landscape where in large number of media platforms are available today. Security forces need to adapt faster for getting the positive out of these platforms, hence there is a need to work out a strategy and stay in tune with the latest technology advancement in social media platforms.

  4. The positive potential of social media is that it is the fastest means of conveying messages, information and opinions. It helps and contributes in building cohesive service communities. It provides a platform to check on internal health of organizations and at the same time there is a need to curb misinformation and building good will.

  5. To keep abreast Social media policy of Indian Army was revised in 2016 and regular advisories on the subject are being issued by Army headquarters. Effort is being made for a regular interaction with environment and proper courses on Information Warfare operations are being conducted.

(j) The purpose of Indian Army presence on social media is to create a place for the organisation in cyberspace so as to create awareness among country men and encourage connection with them. To ensure continued faith, media content of Army has to be credible, creative and interactive.

(k) Shaping of information environment is an evolving concept. It started as a propaganda warfare during Second World War with the soviets and was later adopted by China. Presently being out dated it has lost its relevance. Indian Army along with other nations have graduated to perception management. The latest new holistic concept of perception management is shaping of the information environment. It is a more elastic concept and most relevant in time and space keeping with technology update. If information voids are filled with a favorable narrative then the unfavorable information can also be changed into a favorable narrative for the security forces. To achieve this, the information fed has to be credible and timely to counter the unfavorable information narrative. The complete concept revolves around domination of the information space.

(l) To counter misinformation we need to work on an alternative explanation or narrative to prevent misinformation from getting reinforced and whatever the explanation is given, needs to be simple and brief, and the language has to be non-authoritative. The most important part is that time is very critical to react.

(m) The challenges of social media are that it can be exploited by inimical forces groups and individuals which can enhance the scope of anti-services sentiment. It is also very difficult to track and search for mischief makers. At the same time security forces can also equally exploit the same social platform. To achieve this, the army needs to educate its troops to ensure awareness rather than making an attempt to control social media.

(n) The way forward is to influence media through own medium and narrative. Outreach be carried out and linkages be reinforced for image projection. We need to massively increase our presence in social media and leverage technology to synergise with Command IW Cells. It is a continuous cycle of shaping strategy, establishing linkages, increasing the reach of Social Media, leveraging technology, synergises to again shape strategy.

 

25. Twitter: Use it for a Cause; Effective Utilization by State Agencies During Crisis by Ms Mahima Kaul, Twitter India. The speaker covered in detail how twitter can be a resource for broad casting important information, coordinating multi-agency efforts and getting help when crisis strikes. Twitter is open and live to public which can distribute the message at a very fast pace connecting multiple agencies at a very big platform. It is being used for crisis management, voicing your views, spreading ideas and is also creating a public opinion. All the defence services in India are on Twitter and they have got a very large following. She then explained the basic mechanics of how to use Twitter. She highlighted that the images and short videos can be posted on Twitter which can then be shared very fast. In fact, the use of Twitter is a revolutionary way of interacting on a social media platform.

26. The speaker amplified the strengths of Twitter and explained that it is live reporting, conversational in nature with a distributed framework. The Kerala flood crisis gave an example of how Twitter could save us from Fake news. The Tweet Deck gave a provision to also track multiple Twitter accounts. It was explained that during crisis, the same hashtag should be used for a specific type of event and we should turn on location services. Twitter Moments is another feature which lets you tell your side of the story.

27. It facilitates Passive exploitation ie collection of information and Active exploitation which entails engaging with the environment, conducting info operations and influencing them. Active exploitation could be done covertly or overtly as it allows engagement with key leaders, maintains contact with the target audience and helps contain adverse propaganda. However it needs to be kept in mind that there is no control over the tweet once it has been sent and there is an inherent risk of conflicting versions being put out in the environment.

28. Considerations for Deploying Social Media Effectively across Defence Services by Lt Col Nick Wood, UK, Military Advisor, New Delhi. The speaker, while speaking on behalf of UK 77 Brigade, spoke upon and highlighted the under mentioned points: -

 

  1. The focus of speaker was on latest trends on social media in UK Armed Forces and best practices in this field. He brought out that communication is the life line of Security Forces and the means to communicate have evolved over a period of time. The best practices and case study examples from top defence organisations were also covered. Today each participant in operations is in communication with operation control centers. The medium is real time and pace of information disseminations is very quick. Social Media canvass has changed with technology revolution.

  2. The UK communications market is changing rapidly. The smart phone has overtaken the laptop as the device used by internet users. Policymakers in MoD have begun to understand the role of social media for Armed Forces and their families. Access to social media influences the emotional and physical wellbeing of military staff. Enhanced contact with family can strengthen relationships and feelings of intimacy, but personnel may also be distracted by the concerns of family and loved ones.

  3. The British military’s communications strategy has been modernised to better coordinate a full spectrum approach. Amongst others two key elements of this are Director of Defence Communications (DDC) (MoD) and 77 Brigade. DDC provides leadership, coherence and governance to full spectrum communications across all Defence Board Standing Objectives, using all available internal and external channels. DDC oversees relations, on behalf of MoD, with communications organisations within NATO, UN, EU other international bodies and allies. Oversee defence identity and brand policy including Single Services in association with the Directorate of Intellectual Property Rights. 77 Bde is however structured to execute operational outputs.

  4. Social media should be exploited to support tactical actions. To maximise the utility of social media, you need to use it socially. It should not be used as another delivery platform for traditional media products and press releases. Social Media exploitation can be divided into two categories. Passive and Active. Passive exploitation entails Intelligence preparation of the environment, monitoring and collecting intelligence or insight. Active exploitation on the other hand involves engaging with target audiences and conducting messaging and influence activities.

  5. Benefits of passive exploitation were that it can be used for the collection of intelligence and insight. This is Open Source Intelligence collection activity and is not necessarily Information Activity. It can however give information about activities. Intelligence is provided in terms of near real-time situational awareness, Early warning indicators, Threat assessment, Collateral damage assessments and Battlefield damage assessments. Target Audience Analysis serve as an input to inform about future Information Activities. These can be in the form of Content preferences etc, Profiling of individuals, groups or organisations, Deeper understanding of adversaries ideology, Narratives, Key influencers and Demographics.

  6. Active exploitation is the area that can offer the most noticeable outcome. This is where you will influence a target audiences attitudes and perceptions. It can be done overtly or covertly, and in support of one off event based activity, short term or persistent. This involves engaging with Key Leaders and set the conditions prior to real world engagement. We need to identify leavers of influence and maintain persistent contact with target audiences. Adversarial propaganda and narratives need to be countered.

  7. The speaker explained that the first thing you need to consider is that for Information Operations conducted online in support of tactical activity, there is no guarantee that they will remain at the tactical level. Once the content is out in the social media, there you no longer have control over it. However we should not be scared of it, because it’s just the internet. Any activity conducted in support of a tactical activity must be approached holistically, and must be consistent with messaging and with the activity conducted at the strategic and operational level.

  8. Information Fratricide is a reality that needs to be guarded against. Ideally, there needs to be an organisation with overarching control of Information Activities at all levels. If not, then ways and means need to be devised to coordinate and de-conflict different social media exploitation activities being conducted at different levels.

(j) Command and control structures must be created bearing in mind that we need to decide how the activity at the tactical level is to be controlled. There are various options to do the same as under:-

(i) Planned, controlled and delivered at the tactical level.

(ii) Planned at the tactical level but synchronised and delivered at reach back.

(iii) Planned, controlled and delivered at reach back with input from tactical organisations.

 

  1. Planned at reach back, delivered and controlled at the tactical level.

 

(k) Infrastructure is one of the factors that affect making such a decision. Sufficient IT infrastructure and internet bandwidth must be available at the tactical level to conduct the level of activity required to be effective. We need to be able to collect, create and disseminate content. This needs to be resourced sufficiently and the infrastructure needs to be protected and hardened from adversarial action. In Peace Enforcement Operations infrastructure might be available at the tactical level due to permanent locations. However in conventional conflict it is extremely unlikely that there would be the infrastructure available at the tactical level.

(l) Language and Culture is another challenge. The speaker explained that despite sharing a common language, a lack of cultural understanding can result in unintended consequences and an inability to communicate your message properly. We thus need to find the individuals that have the correct language skills and cultural awareness to be able to convincingly and effectively engage in conversation with target audiences. Such individuals are likely to be found in theatre and not at reach back. Thus we need to decide whether we will make use of contractors or locally employed civilians.

 

  1. Responsiveness is the keyword in Info Operations. It was stated that the US Web Ops based at CENTCOM believe you only have around 15 minutes to engage with a story, before the imitative is lost and you lose the opportunity to control the narrative. We need to empower units or organisations that are conducting Social Media exploitation to react when required. Formal boarding of every individual message will reduce effectiveness. They need mission command, but be given clear direction what their left and right of arcs are. What can and cannot be said and done (including lines to take, narratives etc). The speaker found it ironical that we are happy to give a soldier a loaded weapon and trust them to operate within the Rules of Engagement. Likewise, after we provide them with the appropriate training and direction, we must be able to trust our people with a keyboard and twitter account.

(n) The speaker deliberated upon how to decide whether to conduct online information activities in an overt manner, covert manner or in a combination of both. Overt action provides you with authority, credibility and consistency, but only with certain audiences. It is a matter of conjecture how our target audiences will react to overt messaging from a military organisation as people already have an established bias. Overt ops have less legal/policy constraints and there is lesser training requirements as there is less need to obfuscate your digital footprint. Covert Ops provides the option of Grey or Black information activities and there are no established biases. These can be used to amplify white information activities. Messaging can be more irreverent, less formal and more attuned to what resonates with the target audience and can be more passionate and emotive. However, Covert Ops comes with a heavier training burden (tradecraft etc). Irrespective of the option that we choose, we need to have things in place as the saying goes “Dig your well before you are thirsty”. It will take time to create credible profiles and place them within desired groups and work must begin in that direction.

(o) Policies and Legal Constraints are another issue to be factored in. The speaker explained that NATO do not currently have policy for activities above level 2 (overt white info activities), so if you are conducting this activity on behalf of NATO your freedom of manoeuvre is going to be constrained. We also need to take into account national policies and legislation. In the UK for example they have Army OSINT policy, MOD OSINT policy and an Information Activities Policy which all overlap. On top of that they have legislation that governs how government organisations can conduct investigations, that also impacts on certain activities. All of these policies need to be understood by all those conducting activities, as breaches of legislation can result in significant consequences for individual operators and organisations.

(p) The speaker summed up his talk by stating that when designing your policies they need to be robust enough to prevent you from breaching legislation, but flexible enough to be usable with evolving and emerging technologies. These need to be updated regularly.

 

29. Safe and Positive Online Experience on Instagram by Ms Tara Bedi, Public Policy and Community Outreach Manager, South Asia, Instagram. The speaker highlighted the following issues:-

 

(a) A large number of people world over are using Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram social platforms. Messenger connects people around the world and Instagram has revolutionized the way people capture and share the world’s moments. Then there’s WhatsApp, which recently became the second billion-person platform in the Face book family. Unlike the other Social Media platforms which connect people with their contacts, Instagram connects people to their interests. The media of Face book is immediate, it is expressive and everybody wants to impress upon and exchange fresh ideas. Mobile has created a huge shift in the way people communicate and consume media. This shift can be broken down into three new consumer expectations; Immediate, Expressive and Immersive.

 

(b) In India there are a large No of followers for the Face book pages of the Indian Armed Forces, which is very encouraging. This platform is being used by forces very innovatively. Instagram is however the medium of choice for the youth and for the upwardly mobile people, so it needs to be addressed. Instagram has provided new features whereby the user can manage and regulate the time spent by him or her on the internet so that at the end of it he has a happy positive feeling and not one of being cheated out of his time. In order to have a more Positive Online Experience, Instagram has provided features for comments, filters and controls. Audience control is also possible. Sensitivity screens have also been put in place and reporting of adverse content is taken note of. A help and Support portal has also been established for people in seriously stressed/ depressed situations.

 

30. Exploiting Social Media in Indian Armed Forces: Policy Options by Lt Gen Ata Hasnain, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM (Retd). The speaker highlighted the following issues:-

 

  1. The speaker said that the first principle in use of Social Media was Fleet footedness and Nimbleness. However in the tradition bound Army, change does not come easily to us. The speaker’s focus was on leveraging technology, social media and networks by Indian defence forces. Social media and social networks use web based and mobile technologies which turns communication into an interactive dialogue with the aim to connect people with common shared interest. Social media usage in Indian defence forces is in the form of perception Management, open source intelligence, engagement with public and real time situational awareness. Situational awareness is required during aid to civil authorities and disaster management. In the Indian Army, the faith of the unit is the faith of the soldier and the positive stories of unit routine must be disseminated to the environment. The Army’s secular image and values can make a big difference to the nation’s image.

 

  1. Social networks can be utilized by the forces for dissemination of information, engagement with service personnel, veterans and their families. Veterans are an important part of the Armed Forces community and have an enormous power on social media, which needs to be leveraged. Sharing of information should be on a need to know basis and the concept of “Forwarded as Received” has adversely affected us.

 

  1. Social networks can be utilized for dissemination of information which should be non-operational in nature, educative and for countering misinformation. While on social media it is very important that the security aspects are taken care of by the organization as well as the users since these platforms are vulnerable and can be misused. Hence proper authentication and management of the system should be taken care of by security personnel. One must understand the security challenges posed by extended social networks and need to protect the privacy of family members.

  2. No one is anonymous on the internet and we must be careful while airing our grievances or defending our point of view on social media. We should be discreet about what we post over the social media and certain activities like officers’ mess parties etc should not be encouraged to be posted over the social media as they do not serve any positive purpose. One should disable Geo locating and Geo tagging services and should be aware of the phishing scams and likely frauds which can be committed.

  3. The ADG PI could consider providing content in Roman Hindi on the social media. Due to reasons of brevity, the Twitter is not used much by soldiers but there is a need for all to learn more about twitter. We need to keep the sentiments of the environment in mind before we put out a tweet. An effective anti-trolling measure is to publically humiliate the troller on the social media and gain moral ascendancy.

  4. The Armed Forces need to sensitize the GoI on the role of Info Warfare and how the information domain can leverage power. There may be a case in point to raise a TA Batallion (Social Media).

31. Panel Discussion: Broadband Access and Understanding the Potential & Power of Social Media for the Armed Forces. The panel discussion was moderated by Col Vikam Tiwathia (Retd), DDG COAI and the discussants were Cdr DK Sharma, PRO Navy, Mr Sameer Chugh, Director Legal Airtel, Mr Sandeep Bhargava, EVP Corporate Affairs and Public Policy Vodaphone, Mr Rahul Razdan, CEO Jio Chat and Ms Tara Bedi from Instagram. The following issues were highlighted during the discussion:-

  1. Cdr DK Sharma, PRO Navy. The Navy has a two officer led Social Media team in place to monitor and respond to any inputs received over the social media. This team is in constant touch with the all the ships and immediate real time rebuttals are issued and tweeting of incidents is carried out.

  2. Col Vikam Tiwathia (Retd), DDG COAI. The MoD needs to consider putting a policy in place to hire specialist Social Media consultants for providing continuity in this niche field. If need be the process can be formalized and outsourced.

  3. Mr Sandeep Bhargava, EVP Corporate Affairs and Public Policy Vodaphone. From the industry’s perspective, they were thankful that the MoD has put in place a policy which has facilitated in establishing an increased number of cell phone towers, which has in turn helped improve the connectivity. The industry also felt that there should also be a standard uniform policy for establishment of cell phone towers and it should not be building specific. At the national level, a call needs to be taken to permit establishment of cell phone towers inside school and hospital premises also. The period for which a building is made available for establishment of cell phone towers should be increased to 20 years, in place of the 10 years at present. A large No of foreign ships come to India for repairs and there needs to be a policy for speedy clearances to be accorded to enable provisioning of faster broadband access to them.

  4. Maj Gen Ashok Narula, AVSM, ADG PI. Time factor is important for responding on social media, however Army cannot compromise on the credibility of information. Army is finding ways and means to ensure that time is reduced. Best way is to give an interim response and later a detailed version can be made available. It also depends on the situation as well as security of ongoing operations cannot be compromised. Only way to curb misinformation is to give your own version which at times may not be the only answer. The army is quite active in this regard and the delay in the medium of passage of information has been addressed. Various course mate or veterans social media groups admin are provided correct input for quick dissemination.

  5. Mr Rahul Razdan, CEO Jio Chat. He brought out that the space in the social media between the private space and the public space is the shared secure space. Jio Chat is proposed to be a platform which would be subscribed to only by personnel of the Armed Forces and on this middle ground , there would be a hierarchical flow of information and only what is decided to be disseminated would be put out over the social media. This view point was countered by many people from the audience who said that the very fact that personnel of the armed forces have gravitated towards social media platforms to vent their feelings is due to the flatter hierarchy, speed and minimum controls. The model being advocated by Jio Chat was a throwback to the strict hierarchical model and such a platform, even if created and subscribed to by the armed forces, would in reality be a white elephant because it would not be used by the personnel of the armed forces to vent their feelings. Another member from the audience aptly coined this type of proposed feature to be akin to a Digital Sainik Sammelan, where only one way passage of views takes place and the same was not recommended.

  6. Lt Gen Ata Hasnain suggested that Face book should consider and look at the Kashmir issue with the perspective of the armed forces and should connect with army in various civic operations under OP Sadbhavana projects which can further get a major boost with the help of best social media platform.

SESSION 2

HARNESSING SOCIAL MEDIA FOR EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

32. Chairman, Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma, PVSM,UYSM, AVSM, SM (Retd), Former AG.

 

33. Big Data Analytics and Social Media Mining by Mr Sai Arul of IBM. The speaker brought out that 4 V’s of Internet ie Volume, Variety, Velocity and Veracity are the key challenges for Data Analytics. There is 40 Zeta Bytes (One Zeta Bytes is equal to 10 to the power of 21 Bytes) of data which the analyst has to sift through. IBM was involved in research on big data and their major customers were intelligence agencies and police departments. Big data analysis was both a challenge and an opportunity because of data explosion and diverse sets of data which needed to be analysed to make any sense of it ie in the cognitive domain. The process of big data analytics involves large data volume, high data velocity, variety of data and proper data veracity. Additional challenge for the Armed forces is that data can either be collected by user agents ie crawlers – which is a bandwidth, storage and time intensive proposition. The other option is to buy data from Data aggregators. One of the most important facets of this analysis is predictive analysis which is extensively used for preventing crime and the same can be used for the armed forces requirements, like predicting areas susceptible to infiltration.

 

34. Threat vectors are using non-traditional communications. Before the Paris attacks ISIS agents communicated on social media and purchased weapons on Darkweb. This was unseen and the attack led to 137 deaths. Where an analyst should look is important as there are many alerts and hidden signals in the noise. Lack of actionable intelligence makes it difficult to translate technical findings to leadership and take action. Analytics thus aims at scale & speed in real time; persistently produce tactical insight. The solution should thus have Flexibility, while being stable, Support numerous integrations, be mission specific, Provide Cognitive insight, Security and Anonymity. When a pattern is established, a lot of intelligence can be found using Big Data Analytics.

 

35. IPC and Laws Governing Social Media by Mr Pavan Duggal, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court. Mr Pavan Duggal, being delayed due to certain unforeseen commitments, his part was covered by Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM (Retd), Former AG. He said that the internet is a fertile ground for fake news and cyber crime has grown at a rapid pace after demonetisation due to enhanced digitisation. Most of the cyber crime is initiated by highly organised gangs who provide cyber crime as a service among other things. In India, there are sufficient examples of social media creating havoc, like the Bangalore exodus of North Eastern citizens a few years back. Though the IT Act 2000 has come up with suitable amendments in subsequent years, its implementation is still suspect as even law enforcement agencies are not very sure regarding applicability of the same in various cases.

 

36. Panel Discussion: The Extended Army Family and the Social Media Dynamics, Chaired by Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, PVSM, AVSM, SM (Retd), Director CENJOWS. The panel discussion was chaired by Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, PVSM, AVSM, SM (Retd), Director CENJOWS and the panelists were Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma, PVSM,UYSM, AVSM, SM (Retd), Former AG, Maj Gen Bipin Bakshi, VSM, IG (Training), NSG, Mr Sachin Kapoor from Linkedin, Ms Mahima Kaul, Twitter and Mr Rajat Arora from Facebook. The following issues were highlighted during the panel discussion:-

 

(a) Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM (Retd), Former AG. The speaker brought out that UADAI (or Aadhar) was possibly the richest repository of data as it held records of over one billion Indians. The role of Data Analytics and Data protection is very significant as it is rumoured that possibly the Brexit vote was lost due to inputs from Cambridge Analytica. The Indian IT Act of 2000 was a weak act as regards this aspect. This was strengthened to some extent in 2008 by incorporation of Section 69(A). Presently NAASCOM and DSCI have advocated stricter laws for Data Protection. In 2015, the Indian Army had contracted IBM to do Pro Bono work to find out what ails the Army. The sentiment analysis carried out provided deep insights and one fact emerged that everyone either has a grievance or contributes to it. So we must have a mechanism to address the anguish integral to the organization. The ADGPI has done some good work in projecting the image of the Army but a lot more needs to be done in this regard. We need to have a group of experts/ specialists/ sociologists to work out specific campaigns for eg to justify AFSPA etc. The manpower for this may be from inherent resources or hired on an adhoc basis, top enable projection of issues in a proper manner. Training on use of Social Media needs to go down to the grass roots level.

 

(b) Maj Gen Bipin Bakshi, VSM, IG (Trg), NSG. The mobile has become a single device where news, views and chats converge. It has become a platform for communication, networking, public information and a broadcast agent. It has transformed into an information warfare and perception management tool. Perception created is reality defined and the mobile is mightier than the sword. In today’s info environment, when news breaks, one of the first places people turn to for news is social media.

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