From social media’s role in spurring unrest to new weapons for waging war and suppressing dissent, the rapid pace of technological change is transforming conflict. While these changes have in many cases facilitated violence, decentralised social media and messaging platforms have also enabled citizens and policymakers to organise for peace at unprecedented scales. Crisis Group’s field-based research and quantitative analysis on technology and war explores how governments, civil society actors and technology companies can mitigate the conflict-exacerbating risks of new and emerging technologies and pursue the possibilities for peace.
Social media is becoming a major source of information about violent crime in Mexico, with many hotspots too dangerous for journalists. But much of what appears is inaccurate or misleading, posted by criminal groups themselves. Platforms should adapt their policies to minimise the risks.
As Twitter limits access to a tool to analyse conversations on the platform, researchers will be deprived of information that sheds light on political hate speech and incitement to violence. That will have real-world implications for tracking election meddling, disinformation campaigns and human rights abuses.
A victim’s relative is among those accusing Meta in a Kenyan court of failing to adequately police incendiary speech on Facebook during Ethiopia’s civil war. Much greater effort from the company is warranted. But Meta’s task is hardly straightforward.
Chadians’ growing use of social media could prove a boon for the country’s political transition, but it could also fuel violence offline. With donor backing, authorities, civil society, online platforms and influencers should work to ensure social media remains a space for democratic debate rather than an accelerator of conflict.
Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen’s recent testimony before the U.S. Senate reasserted the platform’s role in propagating misinformation that feeds conflict offline. Facebook should do more to reduce the spread of harmful content by revamping its moderation capacities and modifying its algorithm.
In the first episode of the new season of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope talk with entrepreneur Jim Balsillie about technology, governance and security, and explore the complex threats emerging as economies are increasingly driven by big data.
In order to silence opposition to the February coup, Myanmar’s military is vigorously policing the internet as it quashes street protests. Outside powers and technology companies should endeavour to keep the online space free of interference and deny the junta tools of virtual repression.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope talk to conflict mediator Adam Cooper, of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, about the hidden world of peace diplomacy, cyber mediation and the pros and cons of social media during peace processes.
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