General Bipin Rawat's viral message on 'netas' fake, circulated by anti-social elements: Army

The Army has reportedly prepared an information warfare strategy to combat social media propaganda and counter fake news.

General Bipin Rawat's viral message on 'netas' fake, circulated by anti-social elements: Army

NEW DELHI: The Army on Tuesday warned that some anti-social elements were circulating a fake message in the name of General Bipin Rawat and appealed to the countrymen to not share or forward the same to anyone. 

The Additional Directorate General of Public Information (ADGPI) took to Twitter and said, ''Some anti-social elements were spreading a fake message claiming it to have been issued by Gen Bipin Rawat, which is utterly baseless and fake. Pls don't spread it further.''

With its tweet, the ADGPI also tweeted a crossed picture of Gen Bipin Rawat with a message that read: ''If you want to be a politician, then first serve the Army for at least five years. Believe us, 80% of the country's garbage will be cleared automatically.''

The clarification from the ADGPI came after a fake message, not issued by Gen Bipin Rawat, urging people to serve the Army for at least five years before aspiring to become a politician had become viral on the social media platforms. 

The issue also assumes significance since the Army is believed to be gearing itself for the propaganda war on social media. 

The Army has reportedly prepared an information warfare strategy to combat social media propaganda and counter fake news that is often aimed at demoralising the ranks and creating fissures within the force.

To tackle misinformation campaigns and use social media for psychological conflicts in combating terrorism, the force is planning to set up a new institution comprising 'social media warriors' who could be civilians working on a contractual basis, Army sources had said.

This assumes significance as Gen Rawat had recently called for leveraging the social media to Army' advantage.

With the growing presence of social media, the Army headquarters is reportedly in the process of setting up a separate Directorate of Social Media that is likely to be led by a Major General rank officer.

Speaking on the issue of social media, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said the Army is doing a study on restructuring its headquarters and setting up an independent office on the information warfare, especially on social media and training soldiers is also on the cards.

“Our adversary will use social media for psychological warfare and deception. So, we must leverage it to our advantage,” General Rawat had said while adding that he cannot prevent his soldiers from using smartphones.

“If you can't prevent the usage of smartphone, best allow it, but it is important to have a means of imposing discipline,” he added. 

Indian Army has a very robust social media policy and there is a particular department which is dedicated to monitoring social media engagement. And whenever, anyone is noticed to be violating guidelines, he or she is warned immediately. Indian Army's unit based in Army Headquarters is presently monitoring over 700 such WhatsApp army related groups.

There are reports that the government wants to keep soldiers away from social media, especially after several armed forces personnel came out with videos of criticising their senior officers.

General Rawat also said in modern-day warfare, information warfare was important and artificial intelligence (AI) was being talked about. 

(With Agency Inputs)

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