The intent of creating social media platforms, in the beginning, was to break down communication gaps and create a social network across the world. Social media makes it possible for people to air their suggestions, beliefs, argument, and access any information with minimum monitoring. The social networks erase limitations of time and distance boundaries and offer high levels of democracy in the spread of information. However, the luxury provided by social media has turned into a tool of misuse and corruption in politics, businesses, relationships, and poisoned human nature. Small campaigns by vulnerable groups have flourished into nationwide threats by spreading propaganda through social media.
Terrorism has escalated to unimaginable heights courtesy of the new technology. Terrorists today instill fear in people by dispersing scary and threatening images on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, portraying the success in their endeavors. Military forces have also succumbed to the tricks used by terrorists without ascertaining the validity of information, giving them direct online victory. Terrorists excite small battle victories in social media and lure many people into giving up fighting, expanding both online and physical territory. When people get such terror messages, they do not hesitate to share or question the news’s credibility, and by so doing, they bolster terrorist success. Gangs capture compelling videos and edit them nicely to strike viewers’ hearts while spreading their war propaganda. It becomes challenging to differentiate between the information terrorist show in the media and what happens in real sense. The efforts placed by terrorists in spreading propaganda have helped the group recruit many people across the globe. Social media reporters have also aided terrorist campaigns by crating clean versions that they air across different media channels (Emerson T. Brooking and P. W. Singer).
The damage, disruption, and modification of information also eliminate the truthfulness of information that may turn societies against each other. Countries can now wage net warfare by altering information and provoking battles while they are far away at their country homes. Bloggers and social commenters are also hired to create fake accounts and stir up thoughts in people. The propaganda agents create feelings of disbelief in crucial conversations and debates and even criticize correct information, therefore manipulating the audience’s thoughts. The agents also troll information so that the viewers can neglect the data or fuel a confident rumor in the target population (Emerson T. Brooking and P. W. Singer). In some governments like China, social media have been empowered to voice public demands from the citizens. Thousands of social censors have jobs in China to gather information circulated in the media and address them to the state. In the recent dispute of contested waters in South China, China citizens have demanded war from the government following propaganda from the disputed waters.
Governments employ professional Twitter bots to manipulate news from unauthorized sources regardless of the source’s validity to maintain spirits of nationalism and avoid resistance from adversaries. In many countries, national allegiance is achieved by keeping the audience away from facts by controlling social media information. Some governments bribe news centers or threaten journalists so that they air the desired information and cover up their tracks. Consequently, the audience’s denial of facts leads to misinformation, and evil continues to escalate in society without knowledge (CBS). Political leaders also use social media platforms to sway the audience’s thoughts and manipulate information to suit them. Social media platforms also allow anyone with internet access, phone, or camera to create, edit, and produce a story and distribute it to the world. The dilemma of terminating fake accounts and ending invalid information now lies with digital companies since they are held accountable for their design.
CBS. “Fake News, Real Consequences: The Woman Fighting Disinformation.” CBS News – Breaking News, 24/7 Live Streaming News & Top Stories, 27 June 2019, www.cbsnews.com/video/fake-news-real-consequences-the-woman-fighting-disinformation/#x.
Emerson T. Brooking and P. W. Singer. “War Goes Viral.” The Atlantic, 11 Oct. 2016, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/11/war-goes-viral/501125/.