LikeWar
Social media has been weaponized, as state hackers and rogue terrorists have seized upon Twitter and Facebook to create chaos and destruction. This urgent report is required reading, from defense expert P.W. Singer and Council on Foreign Relations fellow Emerson Brooking.

LikeWar Details

TitleLikeWar
Author
ReleaseOct 2nd, 2018
PublisherEamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-139781328695741
Rating
GenrePolitics, Nonfiction, Science, Technology, Social Science, Social Media, War, Audiobook

LikeWar Review

  • Peter Mcloughlin
    January 1, 1970
    I wish this book had had its recommendations implemented before 2016. But closing the barndoor might keep a few remaining horses inside. Social Media that dumpster fire that we can't escape has become the nervous system of the body politic of most nations and is a theater of offensive and defensive warfare although the offense has the upper hand. Social media is used by a huge swath of humanity and is subject to new forms of manipulation more powerful than its predecessors. The election of Donal I wish this book had had its recommendations implemented before 2016. But closing the barndoor might keep a few remaining horses inside. Social Media that dumpster fire that we can't escape has become the nervous system of the body politic of most nations and is a theater of offensive and defensive warfare although the offense has the upper hand. Social media is used by a huge swath of humanity and is subject to new forms of manipulation more powerful than its predecessors. The election of Donald Trump is exhibit A for the damage this technology can inflict. As we attempt to salvage our political system in the aftermath of 2016 social media is also attempting to take measure against the kind of manipulation that hate groups and extremists have used so well to trash our democracy. The book lays out how social media is subject to manipulation and the techniques involved. It is good at diagnosis and has a few medicinal recommendations. Lessons for the gobsmacked.
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  • Michael Burnam-Fink
    January 1, 1970
    "There is a war... for your Mind!"That's the slogan of InfoWars, the incendiary conspiracy news network and nutritional supplement marketing firm. And while Alex Jones is wrong about almost everything, he's right about that. In LikeWar Singer and Brooking ably synthesize a sophisticated picture of information warfare in 2018, drawing from sources as diverse as Taylor Swift, Donald Trump, and ISIS, to argue that the internet has lead to a blurring of lines between consumer, citizen, journalist, a "There is a war... for your Mind!"That's the slogan of InfoWars, the incendiary conspiracy news network and nutritional supplement marketing firm. And while Alex Jones is wrong about almost everything, he's right about that. In LikeWar Singer and Brooking ably synthesize a sophisticated picture of information warfare in 2018, drawing from sources as diverse as Taylor Swift, Donald Trump, and ISIS, to argue that the internet has lead to a blurring of lines between consumer, citizen, journalist, activist, and warrior which threatens the foundations of liberal democracy. The tech companies which built these platforms and profited from them must grapple with the politics of their technologies, before we all reap the whirlwind.Computer networks and smart phones connect billions of people, allowing ideas to flow faster than ever before in history. Sometimes, the results can be impressive. The Chiapas Zapatista movement in 1994 was a dial-up and fax version of a network insurgency that managed to bring enough international opprobrium on Mexico that the government blinked, and reached some kind of political accord (Chiapas is complicated). More recently, Eliot Higgins and a team of open source analysts at Bellingcat managed to track down the exact BUK missile system and Russian soldiers responsible for shooting down MH 17 in 2014. But there are a lot of dark sides. When people connect, the emotion that spreads most rapidly is anger. Lies spread five times faster than truth. Musicians can use social networks to directly connect with their fans, and ISIS uses it to connect with alienated Muslim youths worldwide. Social networks sort diverse citizens into filter bubbles of people who think alike. Eliot Higgin's careful open source intelligence has a paranoid fun-house mirror version in the QAnon conspiracy, where Qultist decoders find hidden messages from an alleged 'senior white house source'. And then there is the matter of information war, an area that even now, after years of offensive cyber operations, liberal democracies still don't understand. Hostile propaganda slips into Western news networks and major platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are infested with bots. LikeWar can even take a personal toll. Over the course of writing this book, General Michael Flynn went from forward looking full-spectrum commander to head Trumpist conspiracy cheerleader to indicted and plead out felon. Flynn's fall is complex, but it can't be separated from the internet. If the trolls got him, what chance does your idiot cousin stand? The counters, 'citizen truth teams' and senior emissaries to groups vulnerable to recruitment, seem like thin reeds against the coming maelstrom of noise.LikeWar starts with Clausewitz's dictum that war is a continuation of politics by other means, and there are clear links between cyberspace and physical space. Intensity of hashtags impacted the subsequent intensity of Israeli airstrikes during attacks on the Gaza strip. ISIS used propaganda to create an aura of invincibility that outflanked the defenders of Mosul, while Russia denied that its 'little green men' were even in Ukraine. But the difference is that cyberspace is constructed space rather than natural space. The networks are built, maintained, and owned by real corporations and real people. The internet grew from an anarchic specialized scientific network to a major engine of commerce and communicate with little deliberate government oversight. Section 230 absolved American companies of responsibility for policing content, with major carve outs for copyrighted IP and pornography. Yet as concerns over cyberbullying and counter-terrorism rose, major networks adopted digital constitutions that were permissive towards speech and censorious towards erotica. Policing content is and was possible, but always took a back seat to growth and engagement, the guide stars of Silicon Valley. The future is if anything, darker. Advances in machine learning and AI allow ever more realistic bots, computer generated DeepFakes where a politician can be programmed to say anything, and personalized targeting of people with exactly the propaganda they'll believe. There are defensive counters, but if I might draw military analogies, what we saw in 2016 was armored warfare circa 1918: clearly the future, but not yet a mature system. Given the pace of technology, we only have a few years before digital blitzkrieg.I'm extremely online, and I've been following this space for years. I've presented at multiple conferences on this topic, including Governance of Emerging Technologies and Association of Internet Researchers. LikeWar is the book I wish I'd written. Cognizant, forward looking, and deeply researched, it is vital reading for anyone interested in technology or politics. My only reservation is that I wish the sources were better linked in the text, instead of being buried in static endnotes. Maybe the next edition will push an update.
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  • Maru Kun
    January 1, 1970
    This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality - interview with the author in which he reminds us of Trump's comment that "I would never have become President if it was not for social media".I Thought the Web Would Stop Hate, Not Spread It - article in the NYT on the same topic. Let me say it again: Social media platforms — and Facebook and Twitter are as guilty of this as Gab is — are designed so that the awful travels twice as fast as the good. And they are operating with sloppy This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality - interview with the author in which he reminds us of Trump's comment that "I would never have become President if it was not for social media".I Thought the Web Would Stop Hate, Not Spread It - article in the NYT on the same topic. Let me say it again: Social media platforms — and Facebook and Twitter are as guilty of this as Gab is — are designed so that the awful travels twice as fast as the good. And they are operating with sloppy disregard of the consequences of that awful speech, leading to disasters that they then have to clean up after.And they are doing a very bad job of that, too, because they are unwilling to pay the price to make needed fixes. Why? because draining the cesspool would mean losing users, and that would hurt the bottom line. Consider this: On Monday, New York Times reporters easily found almost 12,000 anti-Semitic messages that had been uploaded to Instagram in the wake of the synagogue attack. And another one - The Internet Will Be the Death of Us - the NYT is on a roll today. This was a week ago — before Sayoc’s arrest, before Bowers’s rampage, before Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right populist, won Brazil’s presidential election. As The Times reported, pro-Bolsonaro forces apparently tried to hurt his opponents and help him by flooding WhatsApp, the messaging application owned by Facebook, “with a deluge of political content that gave wrong information on voting locations and times.” The hatred, ignorance and division fostered by social media has been greatly underestimated and its malign impacts are only just becoming apparent. This looks essential reading.PS goodreads is an exception of course
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  • Jill Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    What an extraordinary book this is! I am currently engaged in a love-hate relationship with social media. I love the ability to keep track of what is going on in the lives of the people I care about; I hate that this keeping track seems to be replacing actual human contact. I love the ease of knowing what's going on in people's lives; I hate the ease with which miscellaneous people I don't want to know every detail somehow manage to glean it from things I put up to share with those I care about. What an extraordinary book this is! I am currently engaged in a love-hate relationship with social media. I love the ability to keep track of what is going on in the lives of the people I care about; I hate that this keeping track seems to be replacing actual human contact. I love the ease of knowing what's going on in people's lives; I hate the ease with which miscellaneous people I don't want to know every detail somehow manage to glean it from things I put up to share with those I care about. I love that it's harder to hide wrongdoing in an era in which everyone has a camera and a platform; I hate that it's harder to define "wrongdoing" as a result because everything is now a-contextual and a glimpse is presented as "reality" and that I never know what is real and what is fake/manufactured for public viewing anymore. I could go on and on, but won't - chances are you know what I mean, and if you don't, I won't be able to convince you. That's something else social media has taught me...In a very thorough and detailed manner, Singer and Brooking examine the history of social media and its increasing influence on everything along the personal-public, social-political spectrum. It's not only social bullying/warfare we need to worry about anymore; now it's actual, martial bullying/warfare too - to an extent I wasn't aware of, but now am with brutal clarity. This is a great and engaging read that pictures a horrifying yet excessively necessary picture of what the world is literally coming to these days. I think it should be required reading for everyone, since the authors make it clear that it is increasingly the case that everyone is affected by the insidious nature of this media-as-message.
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  • Jami Lilo
    January 1, 1970
    An engaging read. While the subject matter can be depressing, who doesn't look at the current cyber world and cringe?, the authors keep the information quite entertaining. While learning specifics behind personal recreations, planting seeds of doubt in our brains by groups and organizations, and recruiting for actual physical war, the theme is that the internet if far more dangerous than the days of the wild west shoot outs. Like advertising, memes do their job of making people laugh or feel and An engaging read. While the subject matter can be depressing, who doesn't look at the current cyber world and cringe?, the authors keep the information quite entertaining. While learning specifics behind personal recreations, planting seeds of doubt in our brains by groups and organizations, and recruiting for actual physical war, the theme is that the internet if far more dangerous than the days of the wild west shoot outs. Like advertising, memes do their job of making people laugh or feel and then wa-lah they become truths and facts. It's frightening to say the least. It's not all bad, the book explores Anonymous and other positive people and groups fighting this international cyberwar.If you're looking to read this title for school - it's excellent and very well researched and documented. If you're reading out of curiosity or how to protect yourself as much as possible - go for it! The authors are talented and skilled at keeping the pacing fast and the verbiage is amusing, while being informative.Example: When writing about Tay, a network powered chatbot Microsoft created that adopted the speech and patterns of a teenage girl that was quickly converted by trolls on the internet into a racist, sexist, and Holocaust denier and thus quickly deleted, the writers write "After less than a day, Tay was unceremoniously put to sleep, her fevered artificial brain left to dream of electric frogs." Okay, by itself it's not as funny, but when I read it surrounded by the emotionally exhausting truths of our reality it was quite refreshing.Overall, this book will appeal to a much broader audience than one would project due to the authors' ability to make the subject matter entertaining. As a mom of teenagers, this will be on their summer reading list so that they can understand the depths of results of social media on society.
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  • Michael D. Kanner
    January 1, 1970
    [Review based on an early edition from the publisher]Singer explains it all!As he did with WIRED FOR WAR, Singer explores a new dimension to conflicts to the non-expert. In doing so, he also gives you a short history of social media and the use of media in manipulating the opinions of the public. I should also note that he does include a short discussion of how social media has changed our sense of community and American politics, including both Trump's use of Twitter as a direct line to his sup [Review based on an early edition from the publisher]Singer explains it all!As he did with WIRED FOR WAR, Singer explores a new dimension to conflicts to the non-expert. In doing so, he also gives you a short history of social media and the use of media in manipulating the opinions of the public. I should also note that he does include a short discussion of how social media has changed our sense of community and American politics, including both Trump's use of Twitter as a direct line to his supporters as well as how Russia tried to influence the election. Teaching courses in security, conflict and political rhetoric, I was fascinated by his account of how ISIS and Hamas quickly understood the additional capacity that social media gave them in promoting their cause and recruiting new members and sympathizers. I do not think that I have come across such a detailed account. It is worth the price just for this account. Although the notes constitute almost half of the e-copy I was sent by the publisher, he doesn't bog the reader down with minutia or dense academic jargon. His cases are clear and flow easily out of the discussion. I will be recommending to students in my security courses as a must read if they are interested in the changing face of warfare. Another groundbreaking book by one of the leading analysts commenting on conflicts today.
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  • Bob H
    January 1, 1970
    In a month -- October 2018 -- in which self-activating, internet-inspired terrorists, from mail bombers to synagogue shooters, are more in the news than ever, this book couldn't be more timely or urgent. The authors have given us a wide-ranging and compelling look at how the internet in general, and most prominently the social media, Facebook and the rest, have turned out to be a menace. Coarsened public dialogue is the least of it, we read here, and social media have been a theater of political In a month -- October 2018 -- in which self-activating, internet-inspired terrorists, from mail bombers to synagogue shooters, are more in the news than ever, this book couldn't be more timely or urgent. The authors have given us a wide-ranging and compelling look at how the internet in general, and most prominently the social media, Facebook and the rest, have turned out to be a menace. Coarsened public dialogue is the least of it, we read here, and social media have been a theater of political espionage and outright war, driving everything from sabotaged elections to flash lynch mobs (as in India) and a component of real wars and real genocide (as with the Islamic state and the Rohingya massacres). Neither Congress nor the social media companies seem quite able to confront it.Indeed, the authors tell us, the internet is a battlefield, and:"Battle on the internet is continuous, the battlefield is contiguous, and the information it produces is contagious. The best and worst aspects of human nature duel over what truly matters most online: our attention and engagement."Some actors are beginning to challenge it, they tell us. The U.S. military now has a center at Fort Polk, LA, that wargames online threats and conflicts, especially those abutting real-life theaters of war as in Eastern Europe. Some of the social media companies are programming in ways to counter dangerous or defamatory speech and to deal with online terrorism. Congressional hearings continue, for whatever good they may do. But, it's no spoiler to say that the authors show us that social media platforms are only now maturing, it's still largely an uncontrolled and lawless frontier out there, and there's a lot of catching up to do.Highly recommend.
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  • Inge
    January 1, 1970
    Currently the most interesting read of 2018, and quite possibly, of all times. I would recommend it to anyone as it didn't feel skewed to a political side, even if there is a lot of politics discussed. Audiobook is 11 hours and 21 minutes long.
  • John
    January 1, 1970
    Superb. Gripping. Terrifying, even for people who believe they understand the potential of what we have unleashed. A must-read for digital citizens.
  • Nils
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent book on the weaponization of social media.All these different topics — American politics, ISIS, music — go viral the same way. Is this something essential to the architecture of the technology — as well as human psychology?“There may be no more secrets, but the truth can be buried under a sea of lies. You can challenge people’s very idea of reality.”Other countries now look at the US and say, “don’t let this happen to us.” As with every other libertarian initiative, eventually, the lib Excellent book on the weaponization of social media.All these different topics — American politics, ISIS, music — go viral the same way. Is this something essential to the architecture of the technology — as well as human psychology?“There may be no more secrets, but the truth can be buried under a sea of lies. You can challenge people’s very idea of reality.”Other countries now look at the US and say, “don’t let this happen to us.” As with every other libertarian initiative, eventually, the libertarian vision of the Internet has backfired catastrophically.It’s very intellectually flattering for elites to think that, if only the filthy masses had the right information, they would agree with us.“There are no more purely national elections...”Basically a huge percentage of people get most of all of their through social media — and this drives all sorts of extremist behavior. And foreign trolls and governments have figured out how to manipulate these social media environments. While Singer repeatedly nods to the fact that a great deal of trollish behavior on line is actually motivated by efforts to build on-line click-bait business — in other words, actors seeking to make money by exploiting social divisions — he doesn’t make of this what he might: namely, that it is the advertising-based business models of the U.S. internet companies that are at the root of the problem. At the same time, there is an argument to be made that, as propaganda vectors go, social media remain a relatively sideshow. Ultimately the broadcast media (especially if you count Fox as MSM) has a lot more brainwashing power... Already a dozen years ago, in April 2006, when Twitter was less than a month old and Facebook had fewer than 10m users, Stefano DellaVigna and Ethan Kaplan estimated that Fox News was swaying 3 to 8 percent of its viewers to vote Republican (http://www.nber.org/papers/w12169). This “Fox News effect” this effect has only grown since then (Martin, Gregory J., and Ali Yurukoglu. "Bias in cable news: Persuasion and polarization." American Economic Review107.9 (2017): 2565-99.)The two things social media does differently than traditional broadcast media like radio or TV is first that, commercially, it segments people into really weird informational subcultures, basically in order to sell adds more effectively; and second, socially, that it allows al sorts of people who were previously isolated to find each other and form a kind of community. That’s fine when it’s gay kids in small towns finding each other & supporting each other—it’s a little disgusting though when it’s Nazis in small towns finding each other and organizing...
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  • Jonathan Kadmon
    January 1, 1970
    A must read in today's world. I was especially blown away by the section on the propaganda uses by totalitarian states, with a lengthy discussion of the russian model of turning censorship on its head by burying the truth in a sea of lies so dense the truth gets lost or ignored. The book discusses the various ways different kinds of actors have weaponized information on a whole new level via social media and the broader implications thereof. The inescapable conclusion is that propaganda and info A must read in today's world. I was especially blown away by the section on the propaganda uses by totalitarian states, with a lengthy discussion of the russian model of turning censorship on its head by burying the truth in a sea of lies so dense the truth gets lost or ignored. The book discusses the various ways different kinds of actors have weaponized information on a whole new level via social media and the broader implications thereof. The inescapable conclusion is that propaganda and information warfare can now accomplish things far beyond what even physical military force can do. Its effectiveness and unquestionable sway over western societies would set the late great George Orwell to hyperventilating and panic attacks. I also read this right after finishing Snyder's "The Road To Unfreedom" which made it doubly terrifying.
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  • Peter O'Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Reviews to consider:https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/ar...https://www.forbes.com/sites/richards...https://taskandpurpose.com/likewar-re...Book context overview by the authors:https://www.amazonbookreview.com/post...A couple excerpts:https://www.theatlantic.com/internati...http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.or...
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  • John Mccandlish
    January 1, 1970
    Very educational book for me. I knew this existing but not all the techniques and the depth of using social media. Some parts were a little dry for me, but that was related to the specific subject area. The authors need to employ their knowledge to get the key points of this book to go viral. Most people just aren't going to take the time to read it - even though we all should.
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  • Craig
    January 1, 1970
    This book will make you question quite a bit about social media and its power and influence. It covers topics as diverse as ISIS, the history of the internet, Russian election meddling, and Taylor Swift. Very informative and anyone who uses a computer should probably read this. It was well written and well researched and you will get a lot out of it.
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  • David Leo
    January 1, 1970
    A disturbing and necessary account of how bot armies and human trolls have taken warfare into cyberspace.
  • David Goode
    January 1, 1970
    Great read...most important book I've read in some time. Highlights the manipulation of social media and it's effect on the divisiveness in civil discourse and beyond
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