Back during the good ol' days of dial up, the worst sort of deception on the internet was a person saying that they were 18/m/IL when they were really 45/hairy fingers/fapping. But now that Chris Hansen has solved internet ephebophilia forever, an even more serious problem looms for hapless web users, and indeed the entire free world — Taliban members running fake sexy lady Facebook pages, befriending soldiers, and spying on the soldiers using the social networking site's location-tagging technology.
According to Wired, a recent Australian review of military social media habits reveals that too-trusting troops may be leaving themselves vulnerable to attacks, because big strong men still can't resist a friend request from a hot chick. The report says that the Taliban has adopted the bait & switch tactic as a way to gain access to soldiers' personal information as well as classified details about troops' whereabouts, which are often logged by social networking sites unless users specifically opt that their location not be traced.
While befriending a stranger and sharing secret information with that person sounds like it should fall firmly in the DO NOT DO column, just one lapse in common sense from one person can be disastrous— and costly. From Wired,
The U.S. Army learned about insurgents' social media tactics the hard way in 2007, when soldiers in Iraq uploaded photos of Apache gunship helicopters - photos that included embedded GPS data. "The enemy was able to determine the exact location of the helicopters inside the compound and conduct a mortar attack, destroying four of the AH-64 Apaches," the Army admitted this year.
Location tagging technology, by far the most irritating aspect of social media (the most awesome aspect of social media is when two of your high school friends who are still living in your hometown and dating each other get in giant fights commenting on each others' status updates, or when they both start posting extremely passive-aggressive, context-free complaints) is actually helping the terrorists win. The next time someone tells me I'm a party pooper for hating FourSquare, I'll remind them that it's endangering our troops. Why do you hate the troops, users of FourSquare?
But even though we can all agree that it doesn't fucking matter that I just made a joke about a Clint Eastwood yelling at chair/Britney Spears dancing with chair a la "Stronger" video mashup from NEAR NEW YORK, NEW YORK, the real lesson to be learned is this: no matter how many James Bond movies go from blockbuster to cultural icon, no matter how many sensationalized shows about WOMEN WHO KILLLLLL air on cable, and no matter how many men complain about beautiful women who use nice guys them for home repairs or homework help without doing them the courtesy of having sex with them, there will always be men willing to toss caution and logic aside in favor of believing that a sexy stranger might eventually want to bang them. Even if it means endangering lives, and helicopters.