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Alert! Governments May Be Using Social Media to 'Influence' People for Warfare

Nov 22, 2016 08:00 AM EST

Leading military and intelligence experts are going to reveal in a global conference just how governments may use social media as a tool for warfare, with alarming evidence of how they use the internet as "a new front in warfare." 

The Sixth Annual Confernece on Social Media Within the Defence and Military Sector is sponsored by the Thales Group, which is the tenth largest defense company in the world also partially owned by the French Government.

According to Motherboard, the conference highlights the perceived need of governments to "exploit" social media in order to gather intelligence on civilian populations, enemies, and conduct propaganda to influence the public.

American Civil Liberties Union last month revealed that CIA-funded Geofeedia is already being used by the police to conduct surveillance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to monitor activists and protesters. While Facebook and Twitter already revoked Geofeedia's access to the feeds, the conference seeks to prove that social media surveillance is becoming a rapidly-growing industry with no oversight. 

The more alarming insight is how governments are benefiting from the transaction.

For instance, a panel will discuss how the UK military can "maintain a wide reach over a valid audience with reduced costs" using social media. Another is with the military using social media to influence the beliefs of populations to win wars.

Another will make direct reference to the role of social media in covert US military operations. Termed as psychological warfare, these propaganda operations also use social media to support mass surveillance. 

The conference also aims to show that social media can be an effective propaganda tool for the military even in remote regions. For instance, only nine percent of the continent of Africa has access to social media, but still wants to ensure that these citizens are still getting the right message.

Military forces around the world are concerned how social media can potentially be a new "battleground" to identify actual and potential enemies, influence opinions and collect intelligence. 

The event is chaired by Steven Mehringer, Communications Services head at NATO, and some of the military and intelligence leaders from the world. It will also include "social media experts" from across the armed forces and defense industries.  

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