Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Click ‘Like’, Get Punished Under Pentagon’s New Anti-Extremism Policy

Tara Copp, Defense One

First update since 2012 adds rules for social-media behavior.

Service members could be punished for “liking” extremist content online under a new extension to the Pentagon’s anti-extremism policy that was prompted by the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol.

The policy is the result of a review launched by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shortly after he took office in January. The review aimed to discover the extent of extremism within the ranks, and to look at how the Pentagon can balance privacy rights with the need to prevent people who espouse extremist views from serving in uniform.

The new policy, a revision of DOD Instruction 1325.06, introduces the department’s first rules that specifically govern troops’ activities on social media, said a senior defense official who briefed reporters before the report’s release.

“It basically clarifies exactly that service members are responsible for the content that they publish on all personal and public internet domains. including social media sites, blogs, websites and applications,” the official said.

Under the new policy, “liking” extremist content could result in military punishment.

At a Pentagon briefing after the report’s release, press secretary John Kirby said the acts of clicking “like,” using certain emojis, or favoriting a site would violate the new extremism policy.

“The physical act of liking is, of course, advocating, right? And advocating for extremist groups, groups that advocate violating their oath to the Constitution, overthrow the government, terrorist activities… Liking is an advocation and that’s laid out clearly in the instruction,” Kirby said.

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