LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media
Hardcover – October 2, 2018
Through the weaponization of social media, the internet is changing war and politics, just as war and politics are changing the internet. Terrorists livestream their attacks, “Twitter wars” produce real‑world casualties, and viral misinformation alters not just the result of battles, but the very fate of nations. The result is that war, tech, and politics have blurred into a new kind of battlespace that plays out on our smartphones.
P. W. Singer and Emerson Brooking tackle the mind‑bending questions that arise when war goes online and the online world goes to war. They explore how ISIS copies the Instagram tactics of Taylor Swift, a former World of Warcraft addict foils war crimes thousands of miles away, internet trolls shape elections, and China uses a smartphone app to police the thoughts of 1.4 billion citizens. What can be kept secret in a world of networks? Does social media expose the truth or bury it? And what role do ordinary people now play in international conflicts?
Delving into the web’s darkest corners, we meet the unexpected warriors of social media, such as the rapper turned jihadist PR czar and the Russian hipsters who wage unceasing infowars against the West. Finally, looking to the crucial years ahead, LikeWar outlines a radical new paradigm for understanding and defending against the unprecedented threats of our networked world.
“Important resource...more than 100 pages of source notes attest to the thoroughness of their research, and Singer and Brooking have gone to very dark cyber places to bring these facts to light, analyzing ideas and organizations that may give readers nightmares and that can catalyze actual violence. LikeWar should be required reading for everyone living in a democracy and all who aspire to.”
—Booklist, STARRED review
“Few grasp the real threat Americans face on their favorite social networks in the course of their daily experiences. Through amusing vignettes and plenty of pop-culture references, the authors take us on a wild ride featuring everything from reality TV stars to Russian missiles. My take? Like and share.”
—Crispin Burke, Task & Purpose
—General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and NSA, author of The Assault on Intelligence
“Online technology has outrun our social intuitions about its power. In vivid prose, Singer and Brooking offer insight into the ways that social media can be used to manipulate beliefs and attitudes for self-serving purposes.”
About the Author
W. SINGER is a strategist at New America and a consultant for the U.S. military, intelligence community, and Hollywood. He the author of several best‑selling books, including Wired for Warand Ghost Fleet.
EMERSON T. BROOKING is an expert on conflict and social media. He served most recently as a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and has written for the Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and Popular Science.