The impact of social media on modern warfareAndré Schmitt
In modern warfare, the use of social media is playing an increasingly important role. The rapid and widespread flow of information that social media platforms enable provides an effective way for both governments and warring parties to spread their messages and achieve their goals. Propaganda plays a central role in this process, as it can be used to influence the opinions and beliefs of the population and thus win or lose support for a particular cause.
The spread of propaganda via social media platforms has many advantages over traditional media. Social media makes it possible to spread messages quickly and easily while targeting specific audiences. The high reach and the possibility of interaction between users make social media a powerful tool to influence public opinion. Whoever controls these platforms here controls the “truth” and can shape reality according to their goals. Be it by industry, politics or other interest groups.
However, it is important to emphasize that propaganda and disinformation are not only used by governments and warring parties. Extremist groups and terrorists also use social media to spread their messages and gain new followers. ISIS, for example, used social media to spread its propaganda worldwide and recruit fighters for its “holy war.”
The so-called “Twitter Files” are a collection of leaked internal documents published by Buzzfeed News in October 2021 that show how Twitter handles propaganda, hate speech and misinformation on its platform. The documents paint a picture of a platform that is often under pressure to deal with the flood of content published on it every day. The criteria for determining what constitutes propaganda or misinformation is often fuzzy and subject to different interpretations by moderators. In addition, some users have expressed concerns that Twitter is being overly aggressive in some cases, even censoring legitimate expressions of opinion. Hundreds of thousands of fake accounts have also appeared, for example, posing as doctors to promote certain medical products, just the tip of the iceberg in the hybrid war for customers, data and opinions.
Possible measures against it?
It is therefore necessary to recognize the importance of propaganda on social media and develop effective countermeasures. One way to combat the spread of fake news and disinformation would be to educate users and teach them how to recognize fake news. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube must also become aware of their responsibilities and take measures to prevent the spread of propaganda and disinformation on their platforms, as well as maintain or regain their independence from external forces in the long term.
Another option is to promote media literacy among the population. When people are better able to recognize and see through fake news and propaganda, they are less susceptible to manipulation. It is therefore important that schools and educational institutions establish media literacy as an integral part of the curriculum.
In addition, governments and international organizations should also work more closely together to combat the spread of propaganda and disinformation on social media. One option would be to develop uniform standards and regulations for social media platforms to make it more difficult to spread propaganda and false news.
Overall, it can be concluded that the use of social media plays a major role in modern warfare. Propaganda and disinformation are used to influence public opinion and gain support for a particular cause. It is therefore important that we are aware of the importance of propaganda on social media and develop effective countermeasures to combat its spread.
- “Social Media and the Transformation of Modern Warfare” von Michael J. Colarusso
- “Social Media and the Changing Landscape of Conflict” von Timo Kivimäki
- “Propaganda and Counter-terrorism: Strategies for Global Change” von Jonathan Albright und Nicole Smith
- “The Weaponization of Social Media” von Peter W. Singer und Emerson T. Brooking
Book recommendations from the author on the subject of propaganda (which I have read myself):
- Gustave Le Bon – “Psychologie der Massen” (ISBN: 978-3947196337)
- Edward Bernays – “Propaganda” (ISBN: 978-1684223113)
- Jacques Ellul – “Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes” (ISBN: 978-0394718743)
- Noam Chomsky – “Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda” (ISBN: 978-1583225363)
- Jason Stanley – “How Propaganda Works” (ISBN: 978-0691173429)
- Anthony Pratkanis, Anthony R. Pratkanis – “The Science of Social Influence: Advances and Future Progress” (ISBN: 978-1841697460)
- David Welch – “Propaganda: Power and Persuasion” (ISBN: 978-0712358904)
- Stanley Cohen – “Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers” (ISBN: 978-0415267120)
- Alex Carey – “Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty” (ISBN: 978-0252065465)