Review: LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media

Book cover to LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media by P.W. Singer
LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media by P.W. Singer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Little doubt remains about the facts of how social media played a role in the 2016 US election, particularly along the lines of how misinformation was purposely created and targetted towards many voters to help sway them. The degree to which this changed an election in which the candidate with over nearly 3 million more votes lost, will continue to be contested for decades. However, Singer and Brookling are more interested in understanding how social media played such a pivotal role in that election, but more importantly, how it has been leveled across the world as a means of misrepresenting reality, recruiting extremists, and control by governments. In this book, they take readers on a global and technological tour of the types of ways social media is used. They cover the overwhelming campaigns by Russia's Internet Research Agency which uses social media savvy, an army of people, and bots to influence and disrupt politics throughout the world. They explore how young ISIS extremists have turned to recruiting into marketing campaigns of style and subtlety that rivals an ad agency in the US. They show how China levels social media presence and voice to control and encourage people to report upon dissenters. Overall, the authors are effective in helping to explain where these practices came from, how they're used, and how they continue to exist on these platforms as well as the increasing costs to our society as a result of their efforts. Their forward-looking discussions about how to curb it leave much to be desired and does not really give one much hope about what will come next. Regardless, this is is essential reading for anyone involved or interested in social media, politics, history, and communications.

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