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Eamon Dolan Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2018-10-02)
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Politics & government


The Weaponization of Social Media

by Brooking, Emerson T.Singer, P.W.

Two defense experts explore the collision of war, politics, and social media, where the most important battles are now only a click away.

Through the weaponization of social media, the Internet has begun to transform war and politics, and vice versa. Terrorists livestream their attacks, "Twitter wars" produce real world casualties, and viral misinformation alters not just the result of battles, but the very fate of nations. The result is that war, tech, and politics have blurred into a new battle space that plays out on our smart phones.

P. W. Singer and Emerson Brooking tackle the mind bending questions that arise when war goes online and the online world goes to war. They explore how ISIS copies the Instagram tactics of Taylor Swift, a former World of Warcraft addict foils war crimes thousands of miles away, Internet trolls shape elections, and China uses a smartphone app to police the thoughts of one billion citizens. What can be kept secret in a world of networks? Does social media expose the truth or bury it? And what role do ordinary people now play in international conflicts?

Delving into the web's darkest corners, we meet the unexpected warriors of social media, such as the rapper turned jihadist PR czar and the Russian hipsters who wage unceasing infowars against the West. Finally, looking to the crucial years ahead, LikeWar outlines a radical new paradigm for understanding and defending against the unprecedented threats of our networked world.

P. W. Singer is a strategist at New America, an editor at Popular Science, and the author of several best-selling books, including Wired for War and Ghost Fleet.

Emerson Brooking is an expert on conflict and social media. He served most recently as research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and has written for The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and Popular Science.

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LIKEWAR is on Best Books for 2018, for Non-fiction and Business and Leadership

Quote: Amazon Best Books for 2018

Article by the authors on Twitter as a battlefield: "American government is in a sorry state. It will get worse. It is time for these "neutral" social media platforms, never particularly neutral to begin with, to cast aside their excuses and consider the greater good in how they govern their own digital empires."

Quote: Wired

A must read for the intelligence community... A compelling story of the opportunities and risks of social media that every intelligence analyst must appreciate, as publicly available information will increasingly dominate how we read or misread the operational and strategic environment.

Quote: Lieutenant General Robert Ashley, US Army; Director of the DIA

LikeWar is the definitive work on the information revolution. A fascinating, informative must-read.

Quote: Lt. Gen. James Clapper, Former Director of National Intelligence

Although pundits (including co-author Peter Singer) have written extensively about cybersecurity, few grasp the real threat [people] face on their favorite social networks in the course of their daily experiences. Through amusing vignettes and plenty of pop-culture references, the authors take us on a wild ride featuring everything from reality TV stars to Russian missiles.

Review: Task and Purpose

Author's article: Winning the war of 'Likes': As the internet is changing war, war is also changing the internet and we are caught in the middle

Quote: IPS Journal

Vorabdruck vom 16.12.18: Der Krieg, den man nicht sehen kann -- In sozialen Medien wird gerade der moderne Krieg geführt. Akteure sind einzelne Menschen, Terrorgruppen und Staaten wie Russland. Ein Buch legt dar, wie sie vorgehen.


Authors' article: The Little-Known Story of Donald Trump's First Tweet

Quote: Time

Singer and Brooking have produced a compulsively readable and insightful account of what social media is doing to our democracy and to our relations with each other. If it were fiction their description of the battleground the Internet has become would be scary. As reality it is terrifying.

Quote: Professor Sir David Omand, former Intelligence Coordinator and Director of GCHQ

Authors' article: How Spencer Pratt Cast Himself as a Villain and We Bought It: Using the power of narrative, Pratt became the evil half of Speidi, a pair on the 'reality' show 'The Hills.' With a storyteller's skill, he made us hate him and it made him rich.

Quote: Daily Beast

In 2013, when Peter Singer started writing a new book about online propaganda, the topic was largely speculative for U.S. readers. Singer and co-author Emerson Brooking watched in horror as their research merged with America's reality in 2016....

Review: Axois

New and Noteworthy, recommended by Op-Ed Columnist Michelle Goldberg: "... extremely timely and fascinating...

Review: New York Times

A timely, urgent look at a world of electronic sheep - and wolves aplenty, too.

Review: Kirkus Reviews

LikeWar is a magical combination of history, technology and early warning wrapped in a compelling narrative of how today's information space can threaten the truth, our polity and our security. It's a page turner, too, chocked full of deep insights as well as fascinating detail. Sun Tzu tells us to know ourselves, our enemy and our battle space and LikeWar delivers on all three.

Quote: General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and NSA, author

Peter W. Singer discusses his book #LikeWar

Quote: TheLoopcast

The New York Times published a piece on the intersection of Google's work with the Pentagon and cited this new work: "[Google] may want to act like they're not in the business of war, but the business of war long ago came to them," said Mr. Singer, author of a book examining such issues called LikeWar, scheduled for publication in the fall.

Quote: The New York Times


Quote: Wired

As one who spends virtually all his time studying the issues covered in Like War: The Weaponization of Social Media, I can honestly say it is the best, most comprehensive book to appear on a phenomenon that has turned into the greatest threat to electoral democracy since the 18th century. On the bad side... there goes my own book.

Quote: Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former president of Estonia

Singer and Brooking close their work by urging an educated citizenry to be more discerning in their social-media choices. As they put it, "you are what you like" and "what you share is who you are." With that in mind, I am pleased indeed to "like" "LikeWar" and to share it with you. Doing so reflects well on me, but even better on Singer and Brooking, to whom we should all be grateful for their contribution to this important discussion.

Review: LawFare

In LikeWar, P. W. Singer and Emerson Brooking incisively document how the use of social media and information operations are fundamentally changing the dynamics of global conflict and competition, while threatening the foundations of democracy. While the 2016 elections showed the power of social media and its manipulation by our adversaries, Singer and Brooking provide a wakeup call to the wider challenges facing us...

Quote: Senator Mark Warner (VA), Ranking Member-Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Interview with Peter W. Singer on english AlArabiya about Cybersecurity

Quote: AlArabiya

Authors' article: What Taylor Swift Teaches Us About Online War

Quote: DefenseOne

Book Review: LikeWar emphasizes how social media shapes modern battlefields and political climates. ... Thanks to the new book LikeWar_we now have a better understanding of the role social media plays in global issues.

Review: TheNewsRep

Best-selling author Peter Singer talks with the Brunswick Review about winning the increasingly crowded and contentious war for attention

Quote: BrunswickGroup

authors' article: Social Media Is Revolutionizing Warfare - Former National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn was one of the first to exploit the new battlefield that would ultimately help bring him down.

Quote: The Atlantic

The election hackers are back - and they're starting with the US midterms, by PW Singer and Emerson Brooking

Quote: The Guardian

Singer and Brooking have gone to very dark cyber places to bring these facts to light, analyzing ideas and organizations that may give readers nightmares and that can catalyze actual violence. LikeWar should be required reading for everyone living in a democracy and all who aspire to.

Review: Booklist, starred review

interview by Beth Windisch, a national security practitioner.

Quote: NewBooksNetwork

Authors' article: The Future of War Will Be 'Liked' - In the social media age, what you share is deciding what happens on the battlefield.

Quote: Foreign Policy

Why AI Is the Next Frontier in Weaponized Social Media - 'LikeWar' author explains how digital platforms have become war zones

Review: AdWeek

And that may be Singer and Brooking's greatest contribution, even if one whose full ramifications have yet to be grasped: the authors force us to grapple with a world in which the lines between war and not war are increasingly blurred. All told, our digital age is "a world of wars" in their words, from the ones fought by reality television stars to the ones fought by deadly terrorist groups, all in a social media setting that sometimes seems almost exquisitely designed to sow conflict, spawn extremism, and spread vitriol. (200) It is, simply put, a world of LikeWar. And it's already here.

Review: ProtegoPress

Authors' article: The Very First Social Network - How a 1979 chain email about science fiction spawned the internet we know today.

Quote: Slate

This timely work provides a fascinating and often frightening portrait of the many ways social media is being weaponized and used to manipulate.

Review: Library Journal, starred review

LikeWar recommendation: "...LikeWar_is a new book that puts my little encounter into a grim, global perspective. ...I recommend this book as a useful overview of this troubling new phenomenon. The conflicts are deadly serious. ..."

Review: Splice

Taiwan, Croatia, Japan, Korea, Ukraine

Quote: Greenburger

LikeWar is sober, deeply researched, and still compulsively readable. Comparisons to On War and The Art of War are apt.

Review: Amazon, Book of the Month

Singer and Brooking conclude that governments, corporations, and citizens who are interested in the truth need to adapt to the "like-war" version of information warfare, in which everyone is a potential combatant.

Review: CyberScoop

Online technology has outrun our social intuitions about its power. In vivid prose, Singer and Brooking offer insight into the ways that social media can be used to manipulate beliefs and attitudes for self-serving purposes.

Quote: Vint Cerf, internet pioneer

An OODA Loop interview with P.W. Singer

Quote: OodaLoop

Singer and Brooking close the book with this thought: "In this new world, the same basic law applies to us all: You are now what you share. And through what you choose, you share what you truly are."

Review: JustSecurity

Nevertheless, Singer and Brooking offer a convincing, if disturbing, portrait of the pitfalls and potential of social media. LikeWar may not be quite "like" war, but that time might be much closer than we want to admit. However, while there are issues of increasing concern with social media (does, for example, the collapse of norms and barriers threaten a spiral into anarchism and social de-evolution?), we can also foresee the great benefits presented in a medium that unites humanity in a way previously unseen.

Review: ModernWarInstitute

Singer cited in article on cybersecurity: "Previously, the barriers to entry to automating abuse and disinformation were incredibly low. This was both because the corporate incentives were more focusing on user numbers and a general Silicon Valley problem of turning a blind eye to how their babies had grown up into battlefields."

Quote: Washington Post

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