The only credible opponent to Information Warfare is truth!
Information warfare is used in politics, in war and is sometimes found in unscrupulous corporate competition. It’s a mechanism by which information and the mechanism to deliver that information is used to gain competive advantage over an opponent.
In politics, information or news about an opponent is presented from a negative angle, and may include untruths. The media, viewers and social network users are targeted and manipulated into believing and sharing that information. It’s particularly prevalent leading up to general elections. In both times of peace and war, information warfare is used by opposing countries to destablise countries and weaken economies. It may even be used to ensure a president acting in the favour of another country or region is elected. As a hyperthetical example, a country wishing to destabilise and break up the largest economy in the world, in order to increase it’s own domination and power, may manipulate online media (through both inaccuracies and untruthful propaganda), to ensure a target ally has a leader in power that it favours. In the bleakest of scenarios, it could be a far right extremist leader, or one that will make other leaders and their network extremely wealthy.
The business world is heavily regulated, and on the whole, business leaders are continually evolving to more conscientious and ethical practices – with a focus on humanity. Individuals have been known to use information warfare to hurt others, but this kind of information is also heavily regulated under ‘defamation’ and other laws. Individuals on social networks are learning, but are still not clear on what is legal and what is illegal, and are gently adjusting toward cultural shifts. Additionally, the laws and levels of enforcement differ around the globe.
Whatever the information battle, readers, viewers and listeners – the general public, needs to be equipped with the know-how to recognize and disseminate that information – information that could be harmful, or information used as a distraction away from a more serious political or government issue, for example.
The solution lies in both education and empowerment, as well as cultural evolution. That is, education about how to recognize, ignore or respond to information warfare and negative content, as well as a cultural shift in what we as humanity accept as harmful, unethical or illegal information.
I work for two educational organisations, a leading government backed education management organisation, and the Digital Skills Authority. Both are educating and informing either commercial or individual learners about information warfare and digital ethics.
The continued effort across education and in society, through diminished public acceptance, will hopefully deter publishing of untruths in the media and online. This can ultimately only lead to an improved more socially conscious, compassionate and collaborative society.
In support of the tech giants decision to remove harmful content and content providers: “Both media and technology platforms have a responsibility to the public to ensure that fake news is not spread”…”If they are seen to be allowing such content that hurts others, or incites violence or causes other concerns, then that’s not good for their reputation”. Deborah Collier, Channel 4 News 8th August 2018
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