Command of the Trend: Social Media as a Weapon in the Information Age   [open pdf - 10MB]

"This study demonstrates how social media is a tool for modern warfare in the information age. The report builds on analysis of three distinct topics: social networking, propaganda, and news and information sharing. Two case studies are used to show how state and non-state actors can use social media to employ time-tested propaganda techniques to yield far-reaching results. The spread of the propaganda message is accomplished by tapping into an existing narrative, then amplifying that message with a network of automatic bot accounts to force the social media platform algorithm to recognize that message as a trending topic. The first case study analyzes ISIS as the non-state actor, and the second observes Russia as the state actor, with each providing evidence of successful weaponizing of social media. The paper concludes that weaponization of social media will continue to be a decisive factor in future warfare as more countries attempt to build influence operations on social media in the same way Russian operators conducted information warfare against the United States in the 2016 Presidential Election."

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Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/
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