Defensive Social Media Warfare Tactics
A long list of identifiable defensive tactics is used in social media warfare. Irregular and unconventional warfare leaves open the possibility that a wide variety of tactics will be employed as situations change. The effectiveness of a tactic depends on numerous factors including to what extent individuals in any given conflict situation have access to or use social media applications. Selected defensive tactics are shown in Table 1.3.
Self-validation, or assuring the world of the validity and legitimacy of a position or action taken by an organization or individual, is common practice in virtually all conflict situations. Self-validation serves many purposes. First, it reinforces to members of the initiating organization that they are in the right and that commitment to the cause is good. An example of this is using the “God is on our side” slogan to validate a position or action. Second, employing self-validation reinforces the message to aligned organizations and their members that the initiating organization is right and justified in taking action, and this helps keep allies’ comfort level high.
Influencing aligned entities, or working to convince allies of the validity and legitimacy of a position or action taken by an organization or individual, goes a step beyond self-validation. The goal of influencing allies is to have them adopt the
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Table 1.3 Defensive Social Media Warfare Tactics
same position and use the same or similar rhetoric and justifications to convince their own members or population that they are all doing the right thing by supporting a cause or action. This helps to deter discord on the part of citizens of a coalition member state or organization.
Reinforcing alliance partners is the process of publicly and noticeably showing support for an allies’ position or action. This helps to influence aligned entities as well as non-aligned entities by sending reinforcing signals in support of actions taken by a specific alliance partner or group of alliance partners. In the case of nations, such reinforcement helps to convince a populace that all is as should be and that all the alliance partners are working in conjunction with each other toward the same goal. This helps to deter discord on the part of citizens of cooperating member states.
Persuasion of non-aligned entities is the process of convincing non-allies of the validity and legitimacy of a position or action taken by the initiating entity and all aligned entities involved in a position or action. Persuasion is designed to draw non-aligned entities into a coalition or alliance or at least convince them not to oppose a position or action.
Recruitment and indoctrination is the process of aligning new entities or individuals to a social media warfare cause or any type of cause that has social media warfare components. Drawing people into a cause is only part of the process. In general, new recruits or new alliance partners will need some education on cause- related doctrine and the process and tools through which goals and objectives are being pursued.
Relationship building is the process of establishing and nurturing cooperative efforts with like-minded people or organizations. This is an ongoing process
10 ? Social Media Warfare: Equal Weapons for All
involving existing aligned organizations or individuals as well as non-aligned organizations or individuals that are being courted or controlled in some way. The relationship-building process is never-ending and will always present challenges as social and economic conditions change or evolve.
Nullifying opponents is the process of discrediting opponents in the eyes of alliance partners or non-partners that an alliance, nation, or organization is attempting to influence. Nullifying efforts can reinforce existing positive relationships and help to attract new relationships. The nullification process usually involves debasing or demonizing the ideological or political position of opponents. It can also involve discrediting or invalidating positions taken by opponents based on inaccurate information or data.