Social Networking Sites – Weapon, Threat and Target
The use of social networking sites by groups opposing the rule of current government in Iran, Egypt and other countries have caught the attention of intelligence agencies around the world. The capabilities of social networking sites have three core attributes – a weapon, a threat and a target. Now let’s look at each of the three.
Based on the successes social networking sites have had in bringing an organized movement to the forefront, groups around the world are well aware that this is a critical information dissemination capability. Social networking has emerged as the C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) for activists and protesters.
On the other side of the use of social networking sites, it is considered a significant threat. The openly available infrastructure has greatly increased the effectiveness of these groups. The value was clearly demonstrated on the world stage as the protesters got their message out and were able to pull together near real-time media campaigns that influenced viewers and gained them support.
Social media sites that are used as C4ISR for these groups make them a primary target for their opposition. Attacking an opponent’s C4ISR is a common military practice that has been employed for decades. Thus, disrupting your adversaries’ ability to communicate with and coordinate their assets creates a strategic advantage and the upper hand in a modern conflict.
As social media continues to grow by leaps and bounds you can be sure its value to protesters, activists and even terrorists will grow as well. As the value grows, so will the plans to exploit the sites for intelligence and the attack strategies that will disrupt the ability for it to be used by these groups as their C4ISR.