Pentagon updates extremism guidance, troops can be punished for 'liking' certain content

By: Just The News

The new rules are meant to clarify what sorts of online activity will be viewed as supporting extremism.

The Pentagon has released a new set of rules designed to thwart extremism within its own ranks. The update arrives following previous department guidance that was criticized for its vagueness.

Service members are currently prohibited from engaging in extremist activities, and could now be punished for advocating for extremist content in the form of "liking" such content on social media.

"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," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby explained.

Following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots nearly a year ago, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin began an investigation into extremism among troops. Since then, the Pentagon says it has identified "about 100" active duty or Reserve members who have "participated in some prohibited extremist activities," according to Kirby.

The new guidance prohibits members from supporting or advocating for terrorism or the overthrow of the government – which includes "liking" or reposting content that indicates support on social media sites – and raising money for extremist groups.

The rules, however, do not bar military members from membership in extremist organizations. "It basically clarifies ... that service members are responsible for the content that they publish on all personal and public internet domains," said a senior defense official, according to the Hill.

Service members will be trained on what social media activities are prohibited.

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