Social Media Wars
Social media is not merely an information, but power!
War remains debatably the greatest threat that we face as a mankind. It still is and will remain an area of activity which will never stop. The focusing point here is the fact that now there are new types of weapons of mass destruction, which have changed the way of wars.
Many ideas that were considered normal in last few decades turn out to be totally intolerable in this modern age. Many old-style sets of politics do not make sense now; people take equal part in international politics. Media has step forward as a very strong pillar of state. War and peace, win and defeat, authority and vulnerability, threat and security, policy and power, stability and strength – these and many other concepts are buying new meaning today.
As is the rule today, social media played a part in bringing up many major events in history. We live in an ear that is so deceitful and misleading in public opinion that propaganda no longer acts as an “invisible government”. It works openly without fear of conflict and its main aim is to separate truth from lies. One has to accept that social media is not merely an information, but power!
The information age is actually a social media age; this is an age where we already have and we’ll see social media playing a front role in war, strategies and politics of country. For example:
- There are number of blogs that have written a lot about how the Israeli army has been using social media to broadcast the details of its latest military campaign against Hamas, which includes live-tweeting rocket attacks, uploading YouTube videos of hits on specific victims, aggregating Instagram photos from the battlefield, and even posting infographics to a Tumblr blog.
- Another concrete example of this new sensation is when the Israeli army asked citizens not to post the details of attacks or troop movements on social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram because they might inadvertently reveal the location of specific targets. This shows how important this little tool in your hand can be.
Information flow has been democratized; now, anyone with a smartphone in his hand is capable of publishing not just a few sparse details about an occurrence but exact location, time, images, video and more.
Politics was the most dominant of all the subjects where we can see the power of social media. Instead of appearing on a podium many political hopefuls have turned to their digital platforms.
Another major incident that is hitting my mind is when Donald Trump faced a backlash over Muslim tirade. Trump’s anti-Muslim hate speech exposes continuous and unvarnished exchanges between him and potential voters; Not only news and TV channels but even social media is so flooded with toxic tweets, taunting statuses, funny meme and embarrassing videos that even his most dismissive critics couldn’t ignore him.
Going through different articles and literature about social media I came across a 45 year old book entitled “The Greening of America caused a sensation”, on the cover were these words: “There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual.” I can easily relate it to this modern war, where every war is a social media war and everyone is a soldier having their weapon (gadget) in their hands.
Just like anything else in this world, nothing is perfect, even Social Media. One of the problems with Social Media is that you cannot give it rein. Some people have argued that Social media exaggerates information and emotions and certainly exaggerates and generalizes violence. Many of its tools serve extremists to share space with their ideological opposites.
Social media gives air to the Shia-Sunni conflict; according to an analysis of over 7 million Arabic tweets from February to August 2015 suggests that violent events and social network structures play key roles in the transmission of this sectarian bombast on social media.
Since it is hard to regulate social-media tools as they are multi-directional in nature, they can be a very dangerous double-edged sword.
Let’s look into the other side of the picture, we have seen that the terrorist organization, Al Qaeda has used social media to spread propaganda and ISIS has also used social media and Internet forums as a great tool for communication, uploading well-produced videos of beheadings, executions, and slaughters committed throughout the world.
Although, majority of the Official IS accounts were immediately removed by Twitter, Google, Facebook, and other tech companies, but once something is published on the Internet, it’s instantly shared with followers and you no longer have control over it.
Charles Lewis, the distinguished American investigative journalist said in an interview that if journalists had done our job “there is a very, very good chance we would have not gone to war in Iraq.”
In other words, it is very sensitive time for everyone especially for leaders & governments to monitor and evaluate every single step before it goes online. This doesn’t mean that they should limit the use of social media for political purposes. It is a platform that can spread awareness and messages not only at national but internationally also.
I would sum-up by saying that wars can be initiated and stopped with the help of the powerful tool we carry in our hands. It is our duty to investigate the propaganda instead of amplifying it.