The journalist David Patrikarakos’s new book, War in 140 Characters, chronicles in granular detail how social media has transformed the way that modern wars are fought. From the battlefields of eastern Ukraine to the bot factories of St. Petersburg, Patrikarakos takes us into the lives of ordinary citizens with no military training who have changed the course of conflicts with nothing more than a laptop or iPhone.
In the news:
- “She starts by organizing her friends on Facebook to supply Ukrainian soldiers battling separatists and Russian troops in the country’s east. Soon, she is sourcing boots and body armor and driving to the front lines in subzero temperatures…with the help of diaspora networks that can be instantly activated on Facebook.”
- Narrative of war has become as important as physical war due to new technologies that shape public perceptions of conflicts in real time, regardless of what is actually happening on the battlefield.
- The spread of social media has brought about a situation of “virtual mass enlistment” that gives civilians as much power as state propaganda machines — and sometimes more.
Peace Science Insights:
- In conflict, social media makes communication for individuals and groups easier.
- In conflict, the speed and spread of information is increased by social media.
- In conflict, social media generates new data and information about popularity, support and the conflict environment.