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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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12 Comments


I agree with your take on this, however, I don't think people are unaware of the impact of social media. Countless studies now prove its harmful impacts. The problem seems to be much more insidious to me. People use social media for instant gratification, the privilege of judging people behind the safety of their screens, and in worst situations like terrorist communications. However, awareness alone is not bringing an end to it. People are well and truly addicted and even someone who attempts to leave social media platforms will now feel ostracized. You can find jobs on Facebook groups (LDF) that you wouldn't be able to find without. You can feel more connected to people and so much more left…

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Faizan Qureshi
Faizan Qureshi
Jul 06, 2022

Iqra shukiya for writing such a relatable issue, a current citizen of Pakistan can well observe how social media is being weaponized by political parties to frame their parties narratives and agendas. The social media has become one of the most irritating sources of information, fuelling polarisation and hatred in the society. Soon after Imran Khan or Maryam Nawaz tweet, their supporters begin hashtag trends on Twitter. Both parties have dedicated social media activists working round the clock for promoting their party point of view and denigrating opponents. While all political and religious parties are now increasingly taking advantage of the social media, political rivalry between the PTI and PML-N has turned social media forums into fierce battlegrounds. The powerful…

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I totally agree, Iqra. Social Media definitely has the power to be used as a weapon in this age of modern technology. We are continuously consuming information without verifying it and this can result in us forming views or beliefs that might be based on false information or biased content. Social media is also known to censor important information. Like in the case of Israeli oppression of Palestine, much content that supported palestine or condemned israel was censored by instagram.


This, then, begs the question. Will controlling the information we get through social media and strict surveillance like that of China be helpful in making sure our youngsters are safe from miseducation?

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Ahmad Rana
Ahmad Rana
Jul 06, 2022

Absolutely! I'm glad you brought up this issue as it is one of the most persistent issue nowadays. Social media doesn't always paint the clear picture of the conflict, like we saw in the case of Uyghur and Palestinian muslims. Social media platforms like facebook and instagram started deleting the picture and videos of the Israeli atrocities and started blocking the accounts which shared them. We can also not neglect the fact that social media is having a toll on people's mental health. We've seen that cancel culture or the culture where someone's private pictures get shared on social media and everyone shares them in groups has become pretty strong recently. There are many instances where people actually committed suicide…

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This also reminds me about the constant forwarding of messages on WhatsApp. No one, especially the older generations, tries to verify the content of the message or in case of long messages read the message themselves. In order to curtail this wildfire of misinformation, WhatsApp has limited users and doesn’t allow them to forward the message to more than one group at a time. Besides this how do you think people can be educated towards the misuse of social media and how it’s affecting both their mental and physical health?

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To work towards educating people regarding the misuse of social media and pushing a more responsible use of it, we need to all become more critical of the information we receive online, especially about major things like conflict. We need to begin verifying this information instead of taking it as it is, especially if we are speaking on it. Overall, more awareness regarding this issue would help us achieve that

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