Social Media

“Information operations do not worry me” – The Role of Credible Information on Digital Platforms


The results of the qualitative, multidisciplinary, and explorative research show that young people use various digital platforms to shape their understanding of facts and fiction. This research asks: 1) To what degree do young people between 16-29 years old use digital platforms as sources of information or news? and 2) To what degree are young people between 16-29 years old aware of disinformation campaigns on social media platforms? Out of all the n=362 young, anonymous, and volunteer research participants, everyone used various digital platforms as a source for credible information and news. Fake news or information operations did not concern young people directly, and they did not perceive themselves as targets of information operations. However, the power of AI,

The Space of Influence: Developing a New Method to Conceptualise Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference on Social Media


Foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI) on social media is a fast- evolving threat to democracies. However, there is a growing need to systematically conceptualise the phenomenon. General Morphological Analysis seeks to explore the totalities of a complex problem, but is restricted by simplification. Using and modifying the method expands the morphological space. This expansion and relying on statistical calculation expose internal interdependencies of the phenomenon. Operation design is largely dependent on five parameters: ‘spread strategy’, ‘information channelling’, ‘market targeting’, ‘presented source’, and ‘operational openness’. These parameters are more likely to affect other parameters and thereby define significant aspects of a FIMI operation.

Defining Influence across Online Social Media Platforms


The ubiquitous nature of social media has seen it become a conduit for the propagation of misinformation to a global audience. The unfettered nature of social media has served to delegitimize the online environment. This has been compounded through the use of social media by malicious actors for the conduct of influence operations at scale. Therefore, there is a need for a greater understanding of social media platforms within the context of Information Warfare. 

Understanding Influence Operations in Social Media: A Cyber Kill Chain Approach


Discussions about recent state-run influence operations in social media often focus only on quantitative elements—the number of people interacting with fake news or how many tweets were sent by bots. This article suggests that understanding how influence operations in social media may affect individuals and groups requires a socio-technical approach to examine what is unique about the social media information environment and people’s interactions in and through these media. A socio-technical understanding emerges through the development of a model based on the Cyber Kill Chain that conceptualises the influence operation process as interlinked stages seeking alternate actions from a target audience.

Proving It Is the Data That Is Biased, Not the Algorithm Through a Recent South African Online Case Study


In the recent past, some Internet users questioned the reliability of online news, but not necessarily the role of search engines in programming public discourse. In 2018, South African Twitter users accused Google of peddling misinformation when Google Image searches for the phrase “squatter camps in South Africa” displayed images of white squatter camps. Many analysts blamed Google’s algorithm for displaying bias. In this article, the authors use this example in comparing the findings of six different search engines to counter this argument. Search engines that are diverse in their scope and origin are used to prove that is it not the algorithm, but rather the data that is biased.

A Cultural Exploration of Social Media Manipulators


Internet social media sites enable the rapid and widespread production and dissemi- nation of propaganda. Although propaganda has a long history in warfare, the spreading of propaganda via social media is markedly different from past distribution methods. The authors investigated the relationships between state-affiliated actors who use social media to produce and distribute propaganda and their national cultural values.

Social Media and Information Operations in the 21st Century


Modern military operations continue to be extraordinarily susceptible to the effects of cyber-based Information Operations (IO).  Within social media lies the ability to gain a clearer perspective of the 21st-century battlefields, enabling rapid and informed decision making and decisive action by commanders and their staffs. This paper discusses emerging trends, threats, and concepts that are being employed by numerous actors around the globe to gain positional advantage both internal and external to the cyberspace domain.

An Analysis of the Social-Media Technology, Tactics, and Narratives Used to Control Perception in the Propaganda War over Ukraine


Framed by the historic 2013-2015 conflict in Ukraine—widely described by Western media as a ‘Cold-War’-style clash between the Russian Federation and the United States/NATO alliance—this qualitative case study examines how social media was used as a platform for propaganda warfare waged by clandestine bloggers and special operations commandos (known as trolls) deployed worldwide by state and non-state actors, and digitally linked and informed by data-mining, to manipulate public perceptions of the events by controlling an element of rhetoric known as narratives.

Rhizomatic Target Audiences of the Cyber Domain


Target Audience Analysis (TAA) is a process of finding suitable target audiences for psychological operations (PSYOPS). Typically, a TAA is a one-way process with some kind of a feedback system. The cyber domain presents a challenge to this type of sequential, linear process by refusing to stay still while the process is being executed, possibly leading to results from yesterday’s data in an environment that no longer exists today. 

Disinformation in Hybrid Warfare: The Rhizomatic Speed of Social Media in the Spamosphere


In this paper, two case studies are analysed, namely Finland’s Rapid Reaction Force and the arrest of a Russian citizen in Finland at the request of U.S. officials. A so-called rhizomatic focus (Deleuze and Guattari 1983) is adopted to assess social networking spam and the implications that this phenomenon has for interaction in security cases. In both case studies, the respective timeline of events and the social media impacts on the rhizomatic ‘spam’ information context are analysed.

Understanding the Trolling Phenomenon: The Automated Detection of Bots and Cyborgs in the Social Media


Social media has become a place for discussion and debate on controversial topics and, thus, provides an opportunity to influence public opinion. This possibility has given rise to a specific  behaviour  known  as  trolling,  which  can  be  found  in  almost  every  discussion  that includes emotionally appealing topics. Trolling is a useful tool for any organisation willing to force a discussion off-track when one has no proper facts to back one’s arguments. Previous research has indicated that social media analytics tools can be utilised for automated detection of trolling. This paper provides tools for detecting message automation utilized in trolling.

The Relevance of South African Legislation on Social Media as a Strategic Disaster and Crisis Communications Tool


Disruptive justice is believed to be an irreconcilable element with the rule of law, which only establishes the rule to govern society in context. With the emergence and influence of social media, it has become evident that citizens within a country have the ability and enabling technologies to mobilise the masses and influence governments and organizations.

Is Social Media a Threat or Can It Be a Trusted Agent?


There is a prevailing belief within the United States Department of Defense (DOD) that social media is a threat to national security, leading to restrictions in workplace use of social-media applications. However, instead of dismissing social media as a threat, leaders should be asking whether or not the information received via social media can be trusted, thus leveraging the information-sharing capabilities of social media. This article presents a theoretical case for quantifying social media trustworthiness by exploring the factors that influence trust in social media and proposing a trust framework to be used to quantify trustworthiness.

The Law and Cyber Terrorism


The paper investigates the use of the Internet. by terrorist and dissident groups for publicity, propaganda, and fund raising. It examines the new anti-terrorism legislation passed in the last few years (especially the UK Terrorism Act), and its impact in the Internet presence of proscribed groups.

YouTube Wars: In and Out of Control


Communication technology has altered the ways states and people communicate in peace and war. This article uses Manuel Castells’ theory of communication power to analyse the nature of control in social media communication. Particular focus lies on studying how virtual and physical violence are created and controlled in a communication environment that includes mass self-communication alongside traditional media. The article concludes with a discussion on how a new era of decentralized control has begun with the introduction of social media, highlighting how large non-state actors, empowered by popularity, may come to play a significant role in future conflicts.

Twitter Deception and Influence: Issues of Identity, Slacktivism, and Puppetry


There is a lack of clarity within the social media domain about the number of discrete participants. Influence and measurement within new media is skewed towards the biggest numbers, resulting in fake tweets, sock puppets, and a range of force multipliers such as botnets, application programming interfaces (APIs), and cyborgs. Social media metrics are sufficiently manipulated away from authentic discrete usage so that the trustworthiness of identity, narrative, and authority are constantly uncertain. Elections, social causes, political agendas and new modes of online governance can now be influenced by a range of virtual entities that can cajole and redirect opinions without affirming identity or allegiance. Using the 2013 Australian Federal Election as a case study, this study demonstrates the need to increase legitimacy and validity in micro-blogging forms of new media and the need for multi-factor authentication.

Journal of Information Warfare

The definitive publication for the best and latest research and analysis on information warfare, information operations, and cyber crime. Available in traditional hard copy or online.















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The definitive publication for the best and latest research and analysis on information warfare, information operations, and cyber crime. Available in traditional hard copy or online.


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