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Your Government Wants to Militarize Social Media to Influence Your Beliefs

Your Government Wants to Militarize Social Media to Influence Your Beliefs

Your Government Wants to Militarize Social Media to Influence Your Beliefs
November 16
16:33 2016


Your Government Wants to Militarize Social Media to Influence Your Beliefs

Written by

Nafeez Ahmed
Columnist

November 14, 2016 // 08:00 AM EST

A global conference of senior military and intelligence officials taking place in London this week reveals how governments increasingly view social media as “a new front in warfare” and a tool for the Armed Forces.

The overriding theme of the event is the need to exploit social media as a source of intelligence on civilian populations and enemies; as well as a propaganda medium to influence public opinion.

A report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last month revealed how a CIA-funded tool, Geofeedia, was already being used by police to conduct surveillance of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to monitor activists and protesters.

Although Facebook and Twitter both quickly revoked Geofeedia’s access to their social feeds, the conference proves that social media surveillance remains a rapidly growing industry with no regulatory oversight. And its biggest customers are our own governments.

The event, the Sixth Annual Conference on Social Media Within the Defence and Military Sector, is sponsored by the Thales Group, the tenth largest defense company in the world, which is partially owned by the French government.

Participants in the conference—chaired by Steven Mehringer, Head of Communication Services at NATO—will include military and intelligence leaders from around the world, especially “social media experts from across the armed forces and defense industry.”

Propaganda at home

One panel to be delivered by the Heads of Digital of the British Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force, is titled ‘Maximising Media Support to Armed Forces Activities Within the UK’, and will explore: “How changing perceptions of social media are enhancing media operations at home.”

The panel will also discuss how the UK military can “maintain a wide reach over a valid audience with reduced costs.”

“Social Media is increasingly important to the portrayal of armed forces, at home and abroad on operations; raising awareness of institutional issues; and gaining support through successful recruitment campaigns,” said conference Chairman, NATO’s Steven Mehringer, in an invitation brochure for the event.

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