I have written several posts on the impact of Social Media. The 10/2/18 Foreign Policy Magazine ran an article “The Future of War Will Be ‘Liked’ (see: https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/10/02/future-of-war-memes/?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethitsAs noted in the article, many state and non-state actors use social media “to ridicule their foes and expand their influence, in a world where online sway can drive real-world power. Yet beneath it all, a more serious side of conflict also takes place, its ammunition the bevy of images taken from actual battles. Today, nearly all our moves are tracked, including those in anything from election campaigns to military ones.”
My Blog entry of 9/7/18 Facebook Emerges As Major Weapons System in Libya I discussed how FaceBook served as an intelligence source, the article nicely observes the same – “to ridicule their foes and expand their influence, in a world where online sway can drive real-world power. Yet beneath it all, a more serious side of conflict also takes place, its ammunition the bevy of images taken from actual battles. Today, nearly all our moves are tracked, including those in anything from election campaigns to military ones.”
The article continues “Some of it is intentional: selfies taken in the midst of battle, observers watching events, smartphone in hand. Others are captured in the background: be it images that lay in the distance or even information in the digital background, from the geolocation of CIA black sites revealed by guards’ use of exercise apps to the metadata that accompanies every online post. The result is that the smallest of firefights is observed by a global audience, while terrorist attacks are even shared out live by the killers themselves. ….. It works for both good and bad: Terrorists use this information to win new recruits; human rights activists use it to highlight the plight of civilians caught in harm’s way and even steer rescues their way. During the 2016-2017 Battle of Mosul—the most livestreamed and hashtagged siege in history—thousands of virtual observers waited for each new snippet of content, spinning it to all of these ends at once.
Social media is becoming as important as kinetic operations because, according to none other than GEN Stanley McChrystal, as he explained, is that battles are now being waged over truth itself. In these fights, “the line between reality and perception will be blurred,” he said. “Separating fact from fiction will be tough for governments but almost impossible for populations.”
It is this later fact that needs emphasis. The truth is what the population believes and all too often they believe the cesspool of information on Social Media.