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Thread: Social Media and Unconventional Warfare

  1. #21
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1xwz7tKTQU

    Social Media and cartels in Mexico, interesting response.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKhIqkjxH5I

    Interesting discussion on social media during the Libya conflict, after it was shut down. Impact was external, not internal. Most insurgencies can't survive without external support, did SM help garner international support?

    and old news, but still worth adding to the discussion
    An ordinary Colombian citizen uses Facebook to spark the largest protest in global history.

    We're looking for funding! Find out how you can help march the film into production at www.onemillionvoicesfilm.com
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=truJOj_PaCY

    interesting case studies to consider:

    http://www.movements.org/case-study/c/latin/

    Read the about the situation in Vietnam under country snapshots, it will be interesting to see if activists can change this oppressive system.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 05-14-2012 at 02:07 AM.

  2. #22
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I think it already had its desired effect.
    What do you think was the desired effect? Beyond giving its makers a moment in the sun, of course...

    An ordinary Colombian citizen uses Facebook to spark the largest protest in global history.

    We're looking for funding! Find out how you can help march the film into production at www.onemillionvoicesfilm.com
    "The largest protest in global history"? What exactly was that? Who protested, and how, and what was the outcome?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Dark things do not thrive, and even struggle to survive, in the bright light.

    Dark things exist in certain men and organizations that challenge our society on social, criminal and political levels. Dark things exist within many governments that have grown used to not having to be responsive to the evolving needs and concerns of their respective populaces.

    Greater access to information and greater ability to communicate sheds "light" into the dark spaces where these dark aspects of various legal and illegal men and organizations reside. Many call this "transparency."
    This I think is a pretty optimistic view. Dark things thrive as well online as they do in real life, and the world of social media and do-it-yourself news often encourages them. For all the hate thrown at the mainstream media, in their day it was almost impossible to avoid hearing or seeing information contrary to one's own views, unless you unplugged completely. Today those with extremist inclinations can easily create a network of mutually reinforcing sites and individuals that excludes any contrary view and effectively constructs an alternate reality. These exclusionary networks are ideal conditions for fostering extremism, and may have more impact in the long run than any passing viral sensation.

    Lies flourish as well as truth on social media, and the people who turn to these media for information may be outnumbered by those who turn to them for affirmation.

    The degree to which internet communication and social media have really changed the game for despotic regimes is open to question. Certainly there are useful tools, but revolutions happened before they existed, and the fundamental dynamics of revolution post-social media haven't changed much (anyone else remember the days when mobile phones and text messaging were said to have "changed everything"?). The basic conditions remain the same: you need a widespread sense of grievance, and you need a widespread sense that the regime is vulnerable. Once those exist, all it takes is a spark to kick things off, whatever tools are used to spread the word. True in Manila in '86, equally true in Cairo in 2011.

    That's not to say that social media are irrelevant, only to suggest that they may not be as earthshaking a change as some suggest ("flashmobs" happened long before the name was conjured up). Certainly in their public aspect they provide an interesting window into public opinion. I suspect that in some cases they may actually prove to be release valves, and that people may choose to vent steam on Facebook rather than taking to the streets... but we will see.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  3. #23
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    No one will ever get an argument from me on the points that:

    Social Media cannot create insurgency where conditions for insurgency do not already exist;

    Ideology cannot create insurgency where conditions for insurgency do not already exist;

    "Malign actors" internal or external to a state cannot create insurgency where conditions for insurgency do not already exist.

    Etc, etc.

    But just as breakthroughs in various technologies over time have changed the character, but not the nature of war; so too have breakthroughs in information technology changed the character of governance and illegal challenges to governance; but not the nature of governance.

    Some insurgency (primarily resistance insurgencies) is war. Some insurgency (primarily revolutionary insurgencies) are more accurately civil emergencies; but both are affected in character in how they begin and in how they are sustained by breakthroughs in information technologies, and social media are major part of how those technologies are operationalized.

    Governments who could not long ago largely ignore the reasonable concerns of various populace groups affected by their actions (internally for most states; but for large states such as the US, externally as well); but no more. I have never been a fan of Dr. Kilcullen's "global insurgency" construct; but I do recognize that the foreign policies of the US to create a form of "virtual occupation/manipulation" of the governance of others sufficiently to create conditions of resistance insurgency among many populaces around the world. But such conditions without the ways and means to connect and synergize that energy is not much of a problem. But now those ways and means exist, and organizations such as AQ work to tap into that energy to advance their own agendas.

    Governments ignore the changes to the character of governance created by advances in information and social media to their peril. There is a new standard for governance, and that standard is being set by the people affected by governance, not the governments themselves. Governments think they get to set the standards. Governments are wrong.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Governments who could not long ago largely ignore the reasonable concerns of various populace groups affected by their actions (internally for most states; but for large states such as the US, externally as well); but no more.
    When exactly was this time when governments could ignore such concerns? Given the number of dictators toppled in the decade or two before social media were widely adopted, one would have a hard time concluding that governments in those years could safely ignore anything.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    When exactly was this time when governments could ignore such concerns? Given the number of dictators toppled in the decade or two before social media were widely adopted, one would have a hard time concluding that governments in those years could safely ignore anything.
    You take everything literally, it is annoying.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

  6. #26
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bourbon View Post
    You take everything literally, it is annoying.
    I assume that people mean, literally, what they write. If that's annoying, so be it.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  7. #27
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    When exactly was this time when governments could ignore such concerns? Given the number of dictators toppled in the decade or two before social media were widely adopted, one would have a hard time concluding that governments in those years could safely ignore anything.
    *shameless self-promotion*
    on a related note:
    http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot....n-tunisia.html
    */shameless self-promotion*

  8. #28
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    Default Making Sense of the Jigsaw

    I've been looking at the impact of social media and warfare of late, so thought it might help SWC readers to add a couple of pointers. Especially after a non-SWC member added:
    ... there are few who have grasped the full implications of social networking for public order, security etc
    Hat tip to Tim Stevens, Kings War Studies to the work of Daniel Bennett, from the BBC and a Ph.D student:
    My thesis considered the impact of blogging and 'new' media on the BBC's coverage of war and terrorism.
    Daniel has a blog:http://mediatingconflict.blogspot.co.uk/

    More an information-gathering point maybe; I was intrigued by the possibilities in his piece 'Links on Twitter and Mapping', notably a map of newspapers:http://mediatingconflict.blogspot.co...d-mapping.html

    The non-SWC member pointed to another blogsite, with an article from September 2011 'How government could use social media to improve its response to public crises', which opens with:
    Over the last couple of months I have been watching with interest how social media has been used during a number of crisis events and how governments have reacted to and made use of these technologies. It has been an instructive period as we have had the opportunity to observe both man-made and natural crises. What is clear is that governments still do not fully understand social media and how to use it in a disaster or crisis.
    Link:http://i-logue.com/chaos-is-a-social-issue/

    No, I'm not a cartographer, amongst the embedded links is this one:http://crisismappers.net/
    davidbfpo

  9. #29
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    Default Using Social Media: ten steps to get better

    A suggestion from a SWC reader: '10 ways the military and intel should be using social media, if they aren’t already' which was written in August 2011, so before Tahrir Square, that opens with:
    ..if I were in charge of finding and eliminating bad guys, and protecting civilians on the ground in wartime situations, if I were in charge of understanding the formation of events such as Arab Spring..this is what I’d do.
    And concludes:
    We’re not completely sure where we are all headed, but we’ll get there by learning from each other.
    Link:http://productfour.wordpress.com/201...-soical-media/
    davidbfpo

  10. #30
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    Default 1984 was alive & well in Libya

    Hat tip to Bruce Schneier for the pointer to a lengthy article on Wired 'Jamming Tripoli: Inside Moammar Gadhafi’s Secret Surveillance Network':http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/05/ff_libya/all/1

    I was struck by this sentence:
    By now, it’s well known that the Arab Spring showed the promise of the Internet as a crucible for democratic activism. But, in the shadows, a second narrative unfolded, one that demonstrated the Internet’s equal potential for government surveillance and repression on a scale unimaginable with the old analog techniques of phone taps and informants.

    (Much later) Today you can run an approximation of 1984 out of a couple of rooms filled with server racks. And that’s precisely what Libya’s spies did—and what dictatorships all around the world continue to do.
    Bruce's article draws attention to Chinese, French, South African and USA technology suppliers:http://www.schneier.com/blog/archive...sting_art.html
    davidbfpo

  11. #31
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    Default Looking back at the Arab Spring

    Hat tip to Londonistani for this wide ranging review of social media in the Arab Spring, actual title 'The Arab Spring: Revolution without Revolutionaries?' by Guy Harris, who has "sand in his boots":http://www.defenceiq.com/defence-tec...lution-withou/
    davidbfpo

  12. #32
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    David,

    These are largely opinion pieces, like most of the articles we post on SWJ, but there is little science behind these opinions, and IMO little logic to support their views.

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/behavioural-conflict

    They wrote at length about the importance of focusing on group versus individual beliefs to effectively shape behavior. I think this phrase effectively captures one of their arguments, “Just like research which disproves any strong connection between attitudes and behaviors, this (discussion on poverty and violence)is contrary to prevailing wisdom and, if true, has serious implications.”
    The authors didn't address social media, but assuming that behavior is "mostly" driven by identity group and group expectations, is it is possible that online communities can form identity groups? Then is it also possible that these online communities can provide a social structure that motivates or constrains specific behaviors? I don't think we're too concerned about thousands of people getting online complaining, but this obviously went a step further.

    I have read several studies on radicalization, and one of the salient points about online radicalization that at least one study pointed to was the ability of the radicalizer to bypass the normal social structure that motivates and constrains the targeted individuals behaviors. Parents, friends, etc. are at a loss to explain why he or she became a terrorist, not realizing that person had another virtual identity group that compelled him to change his behavior.

    I'm only proposing these as ideas for consideration and do not pretend to know the answer, but I am hesitant to dismiss the potential power of social media at this point.

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    Default How Anonymous Picks Targets, Launches Attacks

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/201...anonymous/all/

    In fact, the success of Anonymous without leaders is pretty easy to understand—if you forget everything you think you know about how organizations work. Anonymous is a classic “do-ocracy,” to use a phrase that’s popular in the open source movement. As the term implies, that means rule by sheer doing: Individuals propose actions, others join in (or not), and then the Anonymous flag is flown over the result. There’s no one to grant permission, no promise of praise or credit, so every action must be its own reward.

    What’s harder to comprehend—but just as important, if you want to grasp the future of Anonymous after the arrests—is the radical political consciousness that seized this innumerable throng of Internet misfits. Anonymous became dangerous to governments and corporations not just because of its skills (lots of hackers have those) or its scale but because of the fury of its convictions. In the beginning, Anonymous was just about self-amusement, the “lulz,” but somehow, over the course of the past few years, it grew up to become a sort of self-appointed immune system for the Internet, striking back at anyone the hive mind perceived as an enemy of freedom, online or offline. It started as a gang of nihilists but somehow evolved into a fervent group of believers. To understand that unlikely transformation, and Anonymous’ peculiar method of (non)organization, it is necessary to start at the very beginning.

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    How Anonymous Picks Targets, Launches Attacks
    I am currently reading We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency by Parmy Olson. Based on extensive research, Olson monitored anon over two years and interviews with key anon personalities; so far I highly recommend it.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

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    That's why I don't have a smartphone, iPad, or Kindle; still use a 3G flip phone; still have an iPod; still use a Garmin GPS; have less than 20 friends on Facebook, and most of their feeds are turned off; etc. I'm an analog guy in a digital world, and will be quite happy retiring to some sunny, sandy spot in central America as an ex-pat, where my retirement dollars will let me live much more comfortably than here in the States.

    People can debate if the use of "social media" in UW is "revolutionary" or "evolutionary". To a digital dinosaur like me, doesn't matter. I think it's another tool in the UW kit bag, albeit a very powerful one. It makes the battle of the narrative all that more important, timely, and potentially more complicated.

    Now where's that fruity drink with the little umbrella thingy...
    "We're here to preserve democracy, not practice it." from the move, Crimson Tide

  16. #36
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    David,

    Thought you might find this article and link to be of interest, as did I...

    Big data is watching you, By Dr. Gillian Tett, August 10, 2012 5:01 pm, Financial Times, www.ft.com

    But last week, I took part in a seminar organised by America’s Brookings Institution and Blum Center to discuss development and global economics. And now I am looking at that mobile phone with fresh eyes. For what became clear in discussions with aid workers, healthcare officials and US diplomats is that those oft-ignored mobile devices are not just changing the way the western world lives – but changing the lives of poor societies, too. This, in turn, has some intriguing potential to reshape parts of how the global development business is done.

    These days, there are about 2.5 billion people in emerging markets countries who own a mobile phone. In places such as the Philippines, Mexico and South Africa, mobile phone coverage is nearly 100 per cent of the population, while in Uganda it is 85 per cent. That has not only left people better connected than before – which has big political and commercial implications – it has also made their movements, habits and ideas far more transparent. And that is significant, given that it has often been extremely hard to monitor poor societies in the past, particularly when they are scattered over large regions.

    Consider what happened two-and-a-half years ago when the Haitian earthquake struck. The population scattered when the tremors hit, leaving aid agencies scrambling to work out where to send help. Traditionally, they could only have done this by flying over the affected areas, or travelling on the ground. But some researchers at Columbia University and the Karolinska Institute took a different tack: they started tracking the Sim cards inside mobile phones owned by Haitians, to work out where their owners were located or moving. That helped them to “accurately analyse the destination of more than 600,000 people who were displaced from Port au Prince”, as a UN report says. Then, when a cholera epidemic hit Haiti later, the same researchers tracked the Sim cards again, to put medicine in the correct locations – and prevent the disease from spreading.

    Aid groups are not just tracking those physical phones; they are also starting to watch levels of mobile phone usage and patterns of bill payment, too. If this suddenly changes, it can indicate rising levels of economic distress, far more accurately than, say, GDP data. Inside the UN, the secretary general is now launching a project called Global Pulse to screen some of the 2.5 quintillion bytes of so-called “big data” being generated each day around the world, including on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. These sites are strikingly popular in parts of the emerging markets world; Indonesia, for example, has one of the most Twitter-addicted populations on the planet. Thus if the UN (or anyone else) spots a sudden increase in certain keywords, this can also provide an early warning of distress. References to food or ethnic strife, for example, may indicate the onset of famine or civil unrest. Similarly, medical researchers have learnt in the past couple of years that social media references to infection area are powerful early warning signal of epidemics – and more timely than official alerts from government doctors.
    Global Pulse, http://www.unglobalpulse.org

    Global Pulse is an innovation initiative of the UN Secretary-General, harnessing today's new world of digital data and real-time analytics to gain a better understanding of changes in human well-being. Global Pulse hopes to contribute a future in which access to better information sooner makes it possible to keep international development on track, protect the world's most vulnerable populations, and strengthen resilience to global shocks.

    Global Pulse functions as an innovation laboratory, bringing together expertise from UN agencies, governments, academia, and the private sector to research, develop, test and share tools and approaches for harnessing real-time data for more effective and efficient policy action.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-11-2012 at 04:40 PM. Reason: Copied here from Poverty & Militancy don't mix thread as relevant
    Sapere Aude

  17. #37
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    Default Private companies pitch Web surveillance tools to police

    This could fit the 'Big Brother' thread and theme, but sits here well IMO. Not surprisingly the examples cited and linked are Anglo-American:http://californiawatch.org/dailyrepo...s-police-17846

    I have m' doubts over the value of such tools, do drug suppliers really use Twitter? Can sense be made of the torrent of information, say anger over a police shooting in Chicago?

    One thing is guaranteed hi-tech companies will try to sell their products to the police and other agencies who are still trying to get working desk-top computer systems.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-06-2012 at 09:01 AM.
    davidbfpo

  18. #38
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    That last sentence is exactly correct davidbfpo.

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    Social Media Unconventional warfare is outlined as a method of contention, where the planning of whatever, is to establish control of the nation by gaining control of its online media society.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-21-2012 at 01:38 PM. Reason: PM to author after initial posts x3

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