Journal article

Information wars: assessing the social media battlefield in Syria

Information technology Defence Conflict management Middle East

Efforts to understand the nuances inherent to the political turmoil in Syria present daunting challenges. While the numerous insurgent factions and the Syrian security forces engage each other in combat in towns and cities to secure tangible battlefield gains, the warring parties are also waging a contentious information war in cyberspace, specifically within the virtual arena of online social media. The various strands of the opposition in Syria—political and violent—have taken to social media since the earliest stages of the uprising to advance their agendas. Analogous to their role in facilitating communication and information exchange during the wave of revolts that have been sweeping the Arab world since 2011, new media platforms such as the array of social media websites and related technologies that are available to the public at virtually little or no cost have become crucial to shaping how the crisis in Syria is portrayed and perceived.

This article examines the social media battlefield in the Syrian uprising with specific attention on the Free Syrian Army’s online activities. It also addresses the relative impact of the social media battlefield on dictating the course of events in Syria.

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