Information warfare and its limitations

Source: The post is based on the article “Information warfare and its limitations” published in Business Standard on 15th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges

Relevance: concerns associated with social media

News: The article discusses the concerns associated with the advancement of social media and technology.

What are the concerns with the advancement of technology?

Technological advancement has created a whole new world of possibilities for information warfare.

Authoritarian countries are employing technology to intervene in other countries without directly interfering with them.

This information warfare has made people believe false information while it is also being misused for one’s national interest.

For example, a Russian firm named “Internet Research Agency” (IRA) and other Russian agents have run campaigns to push the Brexit referendum in favour of Russia and to push US presidential elections in favour of Donald Trump, etc.

In both the above cases, Russia used information warfare for its own benefit without involving both countries. These information warfare methods have scaled up and industrialized.

Even in India information warfare is used to run internet-based campaigns. These campaigns influence the people over certain political parties and gain trust in them.

What does the future of information warfare look like, and how can people protect themselves against it?

The media has split into two – an elite media supported by subscriptions versus a mass market based on clickbait. The elite media is more immune to information warfare.

Therefore, it lies in the hands of people to opt for the type of media they want.

If they are looking for trusted information, they should buy subscriptions of elite media and stop using mass and social media to gather information. Otherwise, there are chances that people will get trapped into the conspiracy theories of social media.

Moreover, with the improvements in machine learning and large language models (LLM), information warfare is becoming worse.

Further, hiring someone who could produce convincing fake news used to be expensive in India and a lot of the fake information was identifiable through the embedded cultural markers. However, these protections have declined in India.

What lies ahead?

Information warfare might become less disruptive in the coming time because there has been a rise in trustable sources along with a rise in awareness amongst the people.

Further, with the rise of LLM-free knowledge and people becoming skeptical about the news on social media, information warfare might have less influence on the people in the future.

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