Skip to main content

How Social Media is leveling the playing field between governments, militants, and ordinary people

Part 1

Decades before smartphones, the internet, and social media, the philosopher Marshall McLuhan, who worked on media theory, predicted a future world war fought using information. While World War I and World War II were waged using armies and mobilized economies, “World War III [will be] a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation,” McLuhan said, a prophecy included in his 1970 book of reflections, “Culture Is Our Business.”

McLuhan’s prediction may have felt outlandish in his own era, but it seems very close to our present-day reality. Decades ago, the barriers to entry for broadcasting and publishing were so high that only established institutions could meaningfully engage in news dissemination. But over the past 10 to 15 years, ordinary individuals have been radically empowered with the ability to record, publish, and broadcast information to millions around the world, at minimal cost.

The revolutionary impact of this new information environment — where any individual or network of individuals can create their own mini-CNN — is transforming our societies. The loss of gatekeeping authority held by legacy media institutions has opened up opportunities for long-suppressed groups to have their narratives heard: Palestinians, African-American activists, feminists, environmentalists, and dissident groups working in authoritarian societies can all find ways, not always without some trouble, to be heard.

This new media landscape, though, also created a world susceptible to unprecedented levels of propaganda, conspiracy, and disinformation. The epistemological chaos created by the global explosion of “news,” some of it of questionable veracity, has already led to serious disruptions in both politics and daily life. But there is another area of life that might be most seriously impacted by the changing information landscape: armed conflict.

Propaganda and information warfare was once the purview of nation-states, militaries, and intelligence services. Today, even ordinary people have become important players in these campaigns. Battles over narratives and information have become an integral part of modern war and politics; the role played by bloggers, activists, and “citizen journalists” in shaping narratives has proven vital.

The examples are rapidly piling up in the second decade of the 21st century. Citizen journalists and accidental activists helped change the course of history during uprisings in Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia, Syria, and Libya — as well as during Israel’s 2014 war against Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip. Very quickly, people who were once considered to be victims of war and great-power politics have become empowered as political actors. During Israel’s 2014 bombardment of Gaza and the 2016 Russian aerial bombardment of the rebel-held Syrian city of Aleppo, young women and children came to international attention for their updates from war zones, helping wage battles to shape global public opinion.

Distinct from traditional information operations waged by states, the narratives of ordinary people and activists benefit from a greater sense of personal authenticity and emotional connection. This currency has always been difficult for institutions to capture, but comes naturally to individuals and activists. Social media’s ability to bypass traditional media gatekeepers also blew apart the biggest barriers to marginalized voices being heard: political and corporate control over publishing.

Powerful institutions still exist and remain very powerful, but there is another currency that has emerged because of social media and the internet, which you might call authenticity or emotional appeal,” says Matt Sienkiewicz, an assistant professor of communication and international studies at Boston College and the author of “The Other Air Force: U.S. Efforts to Reshape Middle Eastern Media Since 9/11.”

Everyone focuses on the producers of media in shaping public opinion, but it’s really at the distribution level of information where the bottleneck has traditionally been,” adds Sienkiewicz. “This is what social media has fundamentally changed. There is a lot of focus on the ugly side, with respect to viral conspiracies and misinformation — but there is also reason to be optimistic, because many stories that would’ve been ignored before are now being heard.

The emergence of online citizen journalism has also, however, increasingly blurred the distinction between participants and non-participants in conflict, as well as activists and journalists. For those lacking decent media education, discerning truth from falsehood is becoming an increasingly Sisyphean task.

Picking through the pieces of the past few years, a few writers have begun to examine the ways that social media is shaping our understanding and experience of modern conflict and politics. “War in 140 Characters,” by the journalist and author David Patrikarakos, and “Digital World War,” by Haroon Ullah, an author and former U.S. State Department official, both represent early attempts to understand the gravity of our current information crisis.

With the lines of armed conflicts’ central distinctions already being blurred — between peacetime and war, combatant and civilian — social media has the potential to draw the entire world into a gray zone where the lines between participants and non-participants in conflict is unclear. Whereas the last World War was a clearly defined clash of nation-states with uniformed armies, our new era of tech-driven information warfare holds the potential to become so amorphous and all-encompassing that it could to seep into every aspect of society, transforming the experience of both politics and war in the process.

Source, links:


[2] [3] [4]

Read also:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why the US rushed to propagate the 'naval mine' scenario to explain recent attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman

globinfo freexchange

The incident of the recent attack against two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman elevated the heat between the US and Iran. Naturally, the attack also produced some level of turmoil in the oil global market.

Trump's hostile attitude against Iran was clearly evident even before his election. His totally unjustifiable and completely incomprehensible action to kill the Iran nuclear deal, destroyed any remnants of US reliability. Consequently, even the US Western allies refused to follow this evidently counterproductive strategy.

Under these circumstances and given the endless history of US manufactured incidents used to justify the start of another war, most people rightfully thought that this has been just another false flag operation.

And it makes sense actually. Why the hell Iran would attempt to blow up its relations with Japan in the midst of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe visit in the country? Only the US empire would have reasons to do it in order to force one of its…

Confirmed: the US empire seeks to 'clear' the path for the invasion of Iran

globinfo freexchange

Sometimes it's quite surprising how fast some estimations appear to be confirmed.

Only four days ago, we wrote that the US imperialists know that an all-out war with Iran would equal a suicide. The goal is probably a 'surgical' invasion on the south shores of the country that would last just as long as to permit the US and allies to control the Strait of Hormuz, and therefore, the global oil market. The first step towards such an operation would be the mine-clearing of the strait.

This probably explains why the Western media insisted to circulate the scenario of the 'naval mine'. They want to drag Western leaderships behind US in an operation to clear the mines in the Strait of Hormuz, in the name of global energy security.

Well, we were quite close actually. Three days later, the US leadership attempted a broader global alignment - including rival countries like China - towards the protection of "freedom of navigation in the region". …

Όσοι περνάν των χώρα της απόγνωσης παθαίνουν αμνησία ...

globinfo freexchange
Δανειστήκαμε αυτή τη φράση από ένα παλιό κομμάτι της Ελληνικής ροκ μπάντας "Τρύπες", για να περιγράψουμε με λίγα λόγια αυτό που φαίνεται να έχει πάθει η Ελληνική κοινωνία. 
Πώς είναι δυνατόν μια ολόκληρη κοινωνία να έχει ξεχάσει ποιοι τη χρεοκόπησαν; Ποιοι έστησαν το άθλιο σύστημα των κρατικοδίαιτων 'ημέτερων' και της οικογενειοκρατίας; Ποιοι έσωσαν τις τράπεζες με πακτωλό δισεκατομμυρίων σε βάρος της μεσαίας τάξης; Ποιοι έκαναν τη μίζα και το ρουσφέτι επάγγελμα; Πώς είναι δυνατόν αυτή η κοινωνία να ετοιμάζεται να ξαναφέρει στην εξουσία ένα κομμάτι αυτού του άθλιου πολιτικού κατεστημένου, με την επιστροφή μάλιστα του αμετανόητα νεοφιλελεύθερου Κυριάκου Μητσοτάκη και της ομάδας του;  
Η απόγνωση που έφεραν εννέα χρόνια βάρβαρων νεοφιλελεύθερων πολιτικών και σκληρής λιτότητας και που ανάγκασε τη χώρα να διαβεί τον εφιαλτικό μονόδρομο της μόνιμης χρεοκοπίας, πρέπει να έπαιξε σημαντικό ρόλο. 
Διότι ως γνωστόν, η απελπισία λίγο απέχει από τ…

The 'Julian Assange' index: another evidence that Elizabeth Warren is establishment's last resort

 globinfo freexchange

We should be grateful to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for uncovering the ruthless and ugly face of the establishment. For the exposure of the biggest war crimes by the US empire in the Iraq war. For the exposure of the dirty war by the DNC against Bernie Sanders, and many more.
But even now, being in this extremely hard situation because of the absolutely inhuman treatment by this imperialistic crypto-fascist regime, Assange remarkably becomes the cause that forces more masks to fall.

Therefore, the 'Julian Assange' index can even help us identify the real and the fake progressives.

As The Interceptreported:
The Justice Department filed 17 charges against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange on Thursday, deploying the controversial Espionage Act as a cudgel against First Amendment protections and press freedom. It’s the first time the U.S. government has used the Espionage Act to prosecute a publisher, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

[..…

Brussels bureaufascists are ready to replace Alexis Tsipras with their most faithful puppet in Greece

globinfo freexchange
The latest European election in Greece was a real shock for the government. Alexis Tsipras and his party SYRIZA took the second place and suffered a heavy defeat with almost 10 points behind the right-wing New Democracy. Tsipras was forced to declare national elections on July 7th and it seems that blog's predictions are about to become true.

As we wrote already in 2016, right after the internal elections for the new leadership in New Democracy:
The result for the leadership of the main opposition party, New Democracy, in Greece after Sunday's elections, must had brought waves of relief to the Brussels-Berlin axis. Brussels bureaufascists and Berlin directorate have now the best "backup" alternative in case that Tsipras administration attempt to diverge from the catastrophic policies imposed by the European Financial Dictatorship (EFD).
The new leader of New Democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is probably the ideal alternative solution. The man that co…

Το σύστημα της διαπλοκής παίζει τα ρέστα του, αλλά ο Τσίπρας δεν φαίνεται να βάζει μυαλό ...

failed evolution
Η εικόνα αρχίζει σιγά-σιγά να γίνεται όλο και πιο ξεκάθαρη. Όσο πλησιάζουμε προς την ημέρα των εθνικών εκλογών το σύστημα της διαπλοκής παίζει τα ρέστα του. Τα ιδιωτικά κανάλια των ολιγαρχών συνεχίζουν την προπαγάνδα και σε συνδυασμό με την Τρόικα εσωτερικού και εξωτερικού προωθούν 'με τα χίλια' το νεοφιλελεύθερο οδοστρωτήρα, Κυριάκο Μητσοτάκη.

Η απόπειρα σαμποτάζ ξεκίνησε από ένα κομμάτι της Τρόικας εσωτερικού, προκειμένου να δημιουργήσει σύγχυση και επιπλέον αγανάκτηση στους πολίτες μέσω του ευαίσθητου τομέα της υγείας. Προς το παρόν, η συγκεκριμένη φράξια της Τρόικας εσωτερικού αποφάσισε την αναστολή των κινητοποιήσεων, μετά τις αντιδράσεις που προκάλεσε το εκβιαστικό lock out με την υπογραφή του Γιώργου Πατούλη, σύμφωνα με το οποίο απαιτούσε από τους ασφαλισμένους να καταβάλλουν το 85% του κόστους των εξετάσεων. Φαίνεται ότι το σαμποτάζ δεν είχε πολύ μεγάλη επιτυχία.  
Στη συνέχεια είχαμε τις καταγγελίες Αγγελή, ο οποίος εμφανίστηκε 'όλως τ…

Έρχεται ο νεοφιλελεύθερος "οδοστρωτήρας" Κούλης που θα ισοπεδώσει τους εργαζόμενους

globinfo freexchange
«Επταήμερο εργασίας. Όχι ο εκβιασμός που γίνεται από τους ελέγχους εδώ πέρα, όχι εξαήμερο, επταήμερο! Απαιτούμε να γίνει πιο εύκολο, πιο ευέλικτο το θέμα των 7 ημερών και όχι να επικρέμεται η σπάθη των προστίμων», απαίτησε ο "ευγενής" επιχειρηματίας από τον Κυριάκο Μητσοτάκη που επισκέφτηκε την Κω. 
Δηλαδή, το "αφεντικό" δεν θέλει να έχει κανένα έλεγχο πάνω από το κεφάλι του και να κάνει ότι γουστάρει με τους εργαζόμενους. Αν μπορεί δηλαδή να τους βάζει να δουλεύουν και δωδεκάωρα (όπως πέρασε με νόμο στην Αυστρία η συντηρητική δεξιά) και να τους δίνει ένα ξεροκόμματο, ίσα-ίσα για να μπορούν να δουλεύουν.  Θεωρεί τον έλεγχο, δηλαδή αν τηρείται με λίγα λόγια η εργασιακή νομοθεσία, "εκβιασμό". Καταλάβατε νοοτροπία; 
Προσέξτε το ύφος του: το "αφεντικό" με θράσος απαιτεί, χτυπώντας σχεδόν το χέρι στο τραπέζι, να μπορεί ουσιαστικά να εφαρμόζει συνθήκες σύγχρονης δουλείας, όχι μόνο χωρίς καμία επίπτωση, αλλά ούτε καν ενόχληση.  

The prosecution of Julian Assange is an attack on our Freedom of Speech

The Intercept
The Trump Department of Justice has openly declared war on the First Amendment. And the case they have chosen to pave the way for criminally prosecuting journalists and publishers is that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act. It is the first time since the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enshrined in law, that the government is criminally charging a publisher for publishing truthful information.
This indictment centers around the exposure of war crimes committed by the forces of the most powerful nation on Earth. It is about publishing documents that laid bare the blackmail, the backroom deals, the threats, the lies of the U.S. government in nations across the world. It is retaliation against an organization that presented to the world video evidence of a U.S. helicopter gunship massacre on Iraqi civilians and two Reuters news journalists. 
This prosecution is revenge for publishing documents on the U.S. kill campaign in Iraq and Afgha…

Masks fall at last: Bernie officially declares war on corporate Dems who seek to survive around Warren

globinfo freexchange

On early June, Politico published an article which actually unfolded, in plain sight, the plans of the corporate branch of the Democratic party to stop Bernie Sanders.
As we wrote back then:

This is an amazingly straight admission by the establishment apparatus, concerning a certain strategy as part of the whole anti-Sanders operation. And it is also clear that Elizabeth Warren is establishment's key player around this strategy.

Perhaps it's not accidental that this article was published right after Elizabeth Warren signaled to the establishment that she will 'play by the rules' at least on some issues, through her neocon-style statement on Julian Assange.

Only a couple of weeks later, Politico revealed Warren's upgraded role in the anti-Sanders operation. According to a new article, "Centrists who once said the senator would lead the party to ruin are coming around to her as an alternative to Bernie Sanders." It seems almost certain …

Οι λούμπεν μικροαστοί είναι έτοιμοι να επιλέξουν τον δήμιο τους που αποτελεί και την καλύτερη εφεδρεία για τους γραφειοφασίστες των Βρυξελλών

του system failure
Το πρόσφατο αποτέλεσμα των ευρωεκλογών δείχνει ότι το νεοφιλελεύθερο ιερατείο Βρυξελλών/Βερολίνου θεωρεί ότι έφτασε η ώρα να αντικατασταθεί ο Αλέξης Τσίπρας με την καλύτερη εφεδρεία του: τον Κυριάκο Μητσοτάκη. 
Πράγματι, οι προβλέψεις φαίνεται να επαληθεύονται εντυπωσιακά. Όπως είχαμε αναφέρει σε προηγούμενο άρθρο ήδη από το 2016 και αμέσως μετά την εκλογή Μητσοτάκη στην ηγεσία της ΝΔ, τα αποτελέσματα των εκλογών στη ΝΔ λύνουν τα χέρια του άξονα Βρυξελλών-Βερολίνου. Οι γραφειοφασίστες των Βρυξελλών και το διευθυντήριο του Βερολίνου έχουν τώρα μια πρώτης τάξεως εφεδρεία σε περίπτωση που τα πράγματα "στραβώσουν" με την σημερινή κυβέρνηση.  
Ήδη, η κυβέρνηση ΣΥΡΙΖΑ έδωσε κάποια μικρά σημάδια ανυπακοής ενάντια στη λιτότητα που επιβάλλει το ιερατείο, ρέποντας 'επικίνδυνα' προς μια πιο φιλολαϊκή πολιτική. Δεν είναι τυχαίο φυσικά ότι τα πρώτα αυτά σημάδια άρχισαν να γίνονται ορατά μόλις η χώρα βγήκε από το πρόγραμμα επιτήρησης που επέβαλε η Τρό…