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The Weaponization of Social Media

If the first wars were fought with sticks and stones, modern warfare is a high-tech battlefield where social media has emerged as a surprising — and effective — weapon

Social media is today’s world is a powerful tool, one that is used for community building, connecting with others, communication, education, and now even conflict. Widespread access to social media has allowed for easily accessible spaces that can cause real harm and have serious consequences when used to spread misinformation, sow seeds of hatred, propagate violence, and even allow for exploitation. This widespread access also allows this space to expand across international borders, which in a conflict setting can have adverse impacts on humanitarian aid and peacebuilding if used to further violent agendas.

In modern warfare, social media is being used as a tool for information warfare, which is not something to be underestimated as it possesses the power to deeply influence the minds of not only the masses but also powerful parties, often resulting in mass disruption of efforts towards peacebuilding.

In current times, we are witnessing social media being used a space to spread graphic images and videos that are used to shape ideas into the minds of the masses. This has paved the way for social media to now be used as a weapon, which is often being used by terrorist and violent groups to spread misinformation and eve recruit people into their agenda. Terrorist groups are now using social media to spread their message and radicalize people with the aim of recruiting them into becoming part of their organizations. They use social media for widespread communication in order to organize their violent activities. This has seen to have harmful real-world consequences as they use it to shape the public’s perception of ongoing conflict.

Many social media users do not bother to verify the information that is fed to them on a daily basis. This allows for easy spread of misinformation that shapes certain ideas and messages into the minds of these people, which then acts as a snowball effect.

While social media is also being used to spread fear, this constant access has resulted in a desensitization of public, who now is not as impacted by troubling news. Due to this, when information about conflict and violent acts does show up, people often do not care enough as they feel detached from it.

It is extremely important for all of us to be aware of how social media impacts the real world, especially in cases of conflict, as being ignorant or even too accepting of it can have horrible consequences.

Iqra Pervez


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