Since its beginning one month ago, Russia's war in Ukraine has attracted foreign volunteers who want to support the Ukrainians, but recent incidents have caused some to wonder whether those volunteer fighters are hurting the cause more than they are helping.
According to some unverified reports, locations that volunteer fighters shared photos of on Reddit were recently destroyed by Russian artillery or airstrikes, leading to many deaths (purportedly 300 casualties). Whether the places in the photos taken by volunteers are the same as those in images of rubble left after the Russian airstrikes is unconfirmed. It’s also unclear whether Reddit is a source of intelligence for the Russian military, but the topic is prominently discussed in various Reddit posts.
A 4chan post mocking Redditors for taking photos and videos in Ukraine and posting them online circulated widely, with many criticizing Redditors in Ukraine's Foreign Legion for what they saw as naïveté and recklessness.
this subreddit has now killed something like 300 people pic.twitter.com/td0C04aPOI
— 🍄🦀👁 (@bloomfilters) March 23, 2022
Some Redditors who claimed to have training in OPSEC (Operational Security) chastised volunteers for endangering lives by posting photos and videos of secret locations. They theorized that the information needed to exactly locate the bases the volunteers posted from could be found in the metadata, imagery and the background audio in the volunteers’ posts. They also pointed out that IP addresses and smartphones can be tracked and used for targeting purposes by an enemy.
Reddit got another ukranian squad killed. Officially reddit killed more people than 4 chan pic.twitter.com/w796YXdEwT
— vee (@not__vee) March 22, 2022
All the talk of OPSEC, which is something the U.S. military trains service members in, led many online to mock the lack of training among some volunteers for Ukraine. The pinned post on /r/VolunteersforUkraine, the subreddit where English-speaking volunteers organize logistics, discuss plans and coordinate travel to Ukraine, is an in-depth description of what a combat zone is like that cautions against going to fight in Ukraine without proper training. But according to many self-proclaimed experts online, the volunteers for Ukraine are not following this advice, especially when it comes to OPSEC.
just because you literally only learned what OPSEC means from slinking around the perimeter of Polish military installations being an absolute fucking freak during a hot war does not mean this is new to others lmao pic.twitter.com/R1da5NOvnN
— taber 🟣 (@cakesandcourage) March 24, 2022
that's why OPSEC exists. https://t.co/OhJeZ69N8q
— Emergency Mechwarrior Hologram (@RiflemanIIC) March 24, 2022