Summary of LikeWar

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Today’s internet is a battlefield and social media has become a weapon of politics and war. Defense analysts P.W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking lead readers on a fascinating, often harrowing, tour of this online frontline. They explain how deception and disinformation function within digital spaces, how different governments and tech leaders are responding and what individual users should know about how information is manipulated online. Though not particularly long, their book provides incisive analysis of how various players leverage the internet for battles of differing kinds.

About the Authors

P.W. Singer is Strategist and Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. He has worked as a consultant to the FBI, the American military and Hollywood. Emerson T. Brooking is a Senior Fellow at the Digital Forensic Research Lab of the Atlantic Council, where he studies disinformation and information warfare. He is a nationally recognized expert on social media and technology policy.



What is LikeWar?

Social media has become a war zone. Weaponized messages on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, WeChat and a slew of other popular social networks around the globe are ammunition for battles which rely on hacking – not the networks, but the information they contain. Social media’s decentralized technology allows individuals and groups to start fights which blur the lines between on- and offline violence. Threats made online can translate to real-life bloodshed in some cases; in others, the spoils of war are the vast amounts of attention certain provocations garner.  Each statement posted online can spark a new skirmish in the war to garner “likes.”

The weaponization of social media builds on a history of using communication tools to speed up and enhance political battles. The radio, for example, was the weapon that supported Germany’s blitzkrieg, allowing coordination that helped the Nazis attack France. ISIS was among the early adopters who saw social media’s potential for drumming up support for a political cause. In 2014, it began using the hashtag #AllEyesOnISIS as a way to leverage...

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