Every day, social media continues to influence the perception of people on war around the world. In ancient times, wars were fought using sticks and stones, which elevated to guns and bombs.
In the new age, warfare has become high-tech, with social media being one factor that facilitates war. Over the years, Human Right Activists have tried to curb conflicts in various ways, such as educating people on the importance of peace. Still, social media makes things complicated in one way or another. The following are ways in which social media has become the new weapon of modern warfare:
Promotion of Disinformation Campaigns
Disinformation can be termed as propaganda peddled by totalitarian states, with the reality being more complex. As much as disinformation may contain a plan, it is mostly camouflaged by facts and advanced by well-meaning and innocent individuals. When there is a mix-up of information, people, including those who build and manage online platforms, find it difficult to distinguish between a rumor from a disinformation campaign that is well organized.
Rumors spread like wildfire and can potentially cause trouble within a short period as there is never enough time to give clarity on what is really the matter. Most often, disinformation is met by a negative reaction that, if not put under control on time, may cause irreversible damage.
Around the world, governments are using social media to monitor their citizens and manipulate elections which is a recipe for warfare. According to many governments, propaganda is better than censorship. The easiest way to influence the masses is by turning them against one another, with social media being the facilitator and creating a platform for negative energy.
This has reduced the ability of people to be civically active while online and be able to freely express themselves because the system is using social media to stir emotions and breed war among people. Opponents may use the information they find on social media to attack and locate adversaries.
Social polarization occurs when factors like real estate fluctuations, income inequality, and economic displacement lead to differentiation in social groups, usually from high-income to low income. Social media polarizes society and causes war because of its conflicting information, hence making the common people form opinions on several matters and evoke emotions. Once people are opinionated and rigid in their beliefs, it becomes difficult to convince them otherwise, causing a hostile environment with only social media to blame.
Online Recruitment by Violent Extremist Organizations
Social media enables terrorists to engage through their social networks, which is a practice that rarely took place in the past. Different social media platforms have been used to radicalize and recruit violent extremists. Through social media, terrorist groups can organize their meetings, spread hate messages and even identify their next victims. Terror groups opt to use social media because it is fast, easily accessible, and facilitates access to many people.
Despite attempts by governments to track down terrorists through their respective social media platforms, more advanced techniques crop up every day. ISIS uses social media to its advantage by releasing threatening messages to people, causing panic and tension that could result in war.
Complicated Efforts to Prevent War
Different organizations desire to end the war and promote peaceful messages among people. The human brain is designed to react to any news thrown in its direction, and this does not matter whether it is positive or negative news. However much they may try, there are individuals determined to keep people apart and stage war through hate speech and spreading false information.
This causes complications and marks irrelevant attempts of these organizations to promote peace and calm. Many people are glued to different social media platforms every minute, and it is impossible to control the kind of content some people opt to engage with. Social media is meant to bring people together and make them protest against violence and destruction. Some of the ways social media can promote conflict resolution are: Coordinate relief efforts. Promote understanding between boundaries. Empower citizens. Positive information that reduces tension. Aid to hold the government accountable.
However, new skills are founded every day that make peacemakers' efforts to restore sanity irrelevant. Social media also contains procedures on how one can make and assemble harmful weapons fit for threatening lives. For this reason, the government should put up practices to monitor social media channels in-depth and fish out those determined to cause hostile conditions. The media should take advantage of its ability to reach large audiences and supply credible information.