Understanding the Role of Social Media in a Counter-Insurgency Context

  1. Forrester, B.
  2. Frini, A.
  3. Lecocq, R.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Valcartier, Valcartier QUE (CAN)
An exploratory study was conducted to examine the connections between social networking technologies and potential use by insurgents; however the scope was quickly expanded to include all forms of social media. We set the context by briefly discussing social media as a disruptive technology and the nature of insurgency. We propose a model for the identification of social media of interest to the insurgents (insurgent wheel) and a model for a future characterization of the technologies within those categories. The results show that social networking stands out as a category of significant interest. Six social media technologies have high potential for use by insurgents in the areas of sympathy and influence, financing, recruiting, and external communications. Another nine have medium potential in additional areas like information gathering, operational coordination and planning. Interestingly, none of the social networking technologies examined has better than a low potential for training purposes; a fact that can be exploited by COIN operations. The phase of “Organize” on the insurgent wheel has the most number of probable social media categories available for use and social networking was ranked as high in both activities in this phase. Video is the most diverse category scoring 5(high potential for use) in the “Organize”, “Recruit”, and “Act” phases. It would be used for influencing population sympathy, helping to recruit and for promoting the cause after ac
Report Number
DRDC-VALCARTIER-SL-2011-231 — Scientific Literature
Date of publication
01 May 2011
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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