Loose lips sink ships was a phrase originally plastered on posters during WWII reminding people to beware of speaking about issues concerning national security that could be used by the enemy. For my parents and for many others who grew up in the war era, this phrase was infused with a sense of national responsibility.
When I was growing up, this phrase instilled within me a sense of personal responsibility to remind me and my siblings to be careful about what we say about others, as our words and statements may come back to bite us.
In today’s day and age, however, it almost seems that this phrase bears no meaning at all. Social media has reduced this adage to something of the past. Very little is reserved for offline discussions. The question remains, however, have we gone too far with our dissemination of information and public display of images?
I raise the issue today because at around 5pm today, my Twitter feed was flooded with statements like
“IDF (Israel Defense Force) Pinpoint Strike on Ahmed Jabri Head of #Hamas Military Wing!”
Social media has many great uses. I am one of the first proponents of the medium. It is an excellent means to rally the masses, raise awareness about products, support important missions, and back political and charitable campaigns. Having information in real-time is extremely useful and can literally mean the difference between life and death.
But do I really need to download an app that can follow drones as they survey the sky and offer real-time images in enemy territory? Yes, this is an awesome use of technology, but does this tool need to be available to the public? Have we taken the time to consider the ethics of social media and setting appropriate boundaries between the public and private spheres?
Israel has every right to defend its citizens but does the army need to publicize the targeted killing of another human being?! Yes, I appreciate the importance of this event and its significant impact in the future of the terrorism in the Middle East, but do we have to publicly share the loss of life?
Perhaps it’s time to revisit the WWII phrase and consider that some information should remain classified. Or have we become so accustomed to instant information and over-sharing that we want information and news regardless of what risks are involved?