Can Fake News Lead to War

Discussion in 'World Affairs' started by Pathfinder, Jun 15, 2017.

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  1. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

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    CAN FAKE NEWS LEAD TO WAR? WHAT THE GULF CRISIS TELLS US

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    In February 17, 1898, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst adorned the front pages of their respective newspapers – The New York World and The New York Journal – with the same sensationalist illustration depicting the explosion of USS Maine – a cruiser sent to Havana in the wake of what would become the Spanish-American War. At a time when other, more respected newspapers exercised restraint (given the unverified reasons for the cruiser’s explosion), Hearst and Pulitzer pressed on and published a fabricated telegram, which implied sabotage. While the U.S. Navy’s investigation found that the explosion was set off by an external trigger, a Spanish investigation asserted the opposite, claiming the explosion was a result of something that happened aboard the ship. Historians of journalism still debate the extent to which “yellow journalism” had influenced the investigation. No matter the cause, war broke out with the U.S. blockade of Cuba in April 1898. The American victory in the war was solidified by the Paris Treaty of 1899, which granted the United States control over Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines and transformed it into a world power. The war was a turning point and had lasting effects on U.S. foreign policy over the next half century, initiating a period of external involvement driven by expanding economic and territorial interests.

    As we can see from this historical episode, fake news might seem like a “new” issue, but it most certainly is not. Every communications and information revolution in history came with its own challenges in information consumption and new ways of framing, misleading, and confusing opinion. The invention of the quill pen brought bureaucratic and diplomatic writing and led to wars of official authentication (the seal). The invention of the printing press led to a war of spies and naval information brokers across the Mediterranean in the 16th century. The typewriter and telegram birthed the cryptography wars of the early 20th century.

    So it goes with mass use of social media.

    Fake news belongs to the same habitus of modern digital spoilers and is often discussed in tandem with trolls and bots. Most of the existing studies focus on this mischievous trio’s effects on elections and computational propaganda. Yet, we are still pretty much in the dark the extent to which fake news, trolls, and bots can draw countries into war or escalate a diplomatic crisis. Can countries with good relations be pitted against each other through computational propaganda? Or is it more effective to use these methods to escalate existing tensions between already hostile governments? The recent crisis over Qatar gives us some clues.

    The crisis began on May 23, when a number of statements attributed to the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, began surfacing on the Qatar News Agency – the country’s main state-run outlet. The statements were on highly inflammatory issues – namely Iran and Hamas. Once they were read in Riyadh and elsewhere in the region, members of the Saudi-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council were incensed. Although Qatari officials disowned these statements, reporting a hack of state media networks, Saudi and Emirati state-owned networks ignored the reports and pressed for a full-on condemnation of the statements. Later, both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi declared their protest and took a range of measure from closing their airspace and land access to Qatar Airlines, accusing Doha of “supporting terrorism,” and, most recently, declaring a list of 59 people and 12 groups affiliated with Qatar as “terrorists.”

    On June 7, the FBI reported that Russian hackers were behind the hacking of the Qatar News Agency and that the statements attributed to the Qatari emir were planted by these hackers. Russia denied these reports. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates seemed to be unfazed by the possibility of a hack. According to Krishnadev Calamur of The Atlantic, this is for two reasons. First, the purportedly planted statements are viewed by many as the true positions of the Qatari government and have been for a long time. Second, the long build-up of tensions between Qatar and the other Gulf Arab states would have eventually exploded one way or another (indeed, they have before). Regardless, the situation continues to escalate and has even led to the Turkish government to offer its physical military support by passing a fast-tracked parliamentary bill to deploy more troops in Qatar.

    This mess provides a good case study in exploring the effects of fake news and bot use during an international diplomatic crisis as well as the extent to which these digital spoilers affect crisis diplomacy.

    Continue:
    https://warontherocks.com/2017/06/can-fake-news-lead-to-war-what-the-gulf-crisis-tells-us/
     
  2. BlueHawk

    BlueHawk 1st Lieutenant

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    I dont talk to so many people. But it is easy to find out if you are interest in to find the answer. But i believe over all to day, free flow of communication on internett get people more knowledge and understanding. I dont believe people is buying so much fake news. But i cant confirm this. But i like to think the youngster understand more how tings runs around because of better communication when it comes to knowledge. So my answer is clear no from my side.
     
  3. YarS

    YarS Lieutenant Colonel

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    Really "Fake News" as part of psychological warfare were described in the Sun Tzu "Art of War" and Caesar's "Commentarii de Bello Gallic", and yeven thousands years ago they were not new inventions.
     
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  4. Technofox

    Technofox That Norwegian girl Staff Member Ret. Military Developer

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    I'm guess this is fake news as it relates to the US Election right? Doctored or falsified information? It can be argued that false or fake information has already led to wars. The Iraq War is cited often as an example of how bad, falsified or simply non-existant intelligence was the catalyst for the start of the war.

    I suppose fake news, the kind we see during disinformation campaigns in Europe and the United States could start a war or lead to one being triggered, but that depends on how eager citizens are to not verify what they're reading first. Fact checking is pretty damn important you know.

    World leaders are typically not impulsive enough to act out on news that isn't verified, stock markets do and I remember a few years ago a story about a bombing at the White House on Twitter that cratered stocks for a few hours before everyone realized it was a hoax, but world leaders and intelligence agencies typically verify first, act later and that's what'd prevent a conflict ftom erupting as a result of fake news.

    The account was suspended and the Tweet deleted, but here's a screen cap of it. It caused $139 Billion in damages.

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    So it's note likely fake news could cause a conflict... unless citizens happen to jump the gun. People without access to the depth of intelligence governments have are more inclined to do something impulsive or act out on fake news. Pizzagate?

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    Shown to be false, and yet as the story ballooned it lead to a shooting. Without the means to verify that something is fake, your average citizen is more inclined to act. If that becomes extreme and turns into riots, pogroms or other mass events it could lead to a conflict.

    A Tweet or news story saying China invaded Japan isn't going to garner too much interest and will be quickly shown to be false and intelligence agencies and world leaders will hold their fire and confirm just that. But a story or two about a certain group being responsible for a certain crime against another group playing to existing fissures and tensions? Something obscure enough that it can't be easily brushed away and emotionally charged enough that a greater number of people are interested? Sure, that could spark a conflict. One sensationalized story in the Balkans playing to existing ethnic tensions could very well ignite the region again, or the same in Africa with competing groups or the Middle East.

    It's less likely in the US or China or Russia, but in areas with a high risk of ethnic, religious or socioeconomic tensions one fake story designed to further drive a wedge between them, one plausible and believable and one emotional enough to resonate with the larger population could lead to a war.
     
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  5. YarS

    YarS Lieutenant Colonel

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    Sure, sister.
    There is another question - are there a "not fake news" about Russia in a modern West media?
     
  6. YarS

    YarS Lieutenant Colonel

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    Let's play game - you show me an article about Russia, I show false or mistake (may be a little) in it. Then we count how many "true news" are generated in affected brains of West "newsmakers". I suppose it will be less that 10% of choosen.
     
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