IDF joins WhatsApp to fight terror

October 27, 2015  

Popular chat app WhatsApp constitutes an active security breach for the IDF, leading to multiple bans on the product over the past several years. 

But amid an unending wave of Arab terror, even the IDF has chosen that age-old adage: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. 

The IDF has broken its way into WhatsApp groups, Maariv reports Tuesday, in an attempt to stop false rumors from spreading about terror attacks and their victims. 

For instance, minutes after a Hezbollah anti-tank missile attack at Har Dov in January 2015, a photo of the battalion commander circulated on WhatsApp with a message – later proven false – that he had been killed. The commander’s family found out about the “death” through the social network and was devastated.

“The subject of WhatsApp is complex and challenging,” Lt. Col. Yoram Hasson, head of the IDF’s Casualty Department, stated to the daily. “During the Be’er Sheva attack, which killed Omri Levy, [the phenomenon] already reached its peak. Not only did they publish his name, they also distributed his picture.”

“Another example: in one of the attacks in Jerusalem, Aaron Bennett, a haredi soldier, was killed,” he added. “Civilians at the scene pulled out his ID card, photographed it and spread it on the social network.”

“This is how his family received the news.” 

Hasson noted that the project, which aims to place an IDF officer in each major WhatsApp group, seeks not to censor, but to stop stories like these from hurting victims’ families. 

“We cannot silence WhatsApp nor ignore reality,” he said, “but we’re just trying to deal with it better.”

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