Middle East governments play a crucial role in cyberbullying against the opposition. Several independent organizations for the protection of human rights claim that governments in the area have used social media surveillance and law to silence expression online. Let me add also that in many cases the surveillance technologies are provided by Western companies.
Police and secret services have been using social media and mobile applications to hunt down and arrest activists.
The Cambridge Analytica case demonstrates that by using social media it is possible to interfere with the politics of every government. US presidential election won by Trump and the Brexit vote has been impacted by such kinds of operations. Governments can use an army of trolls that stimulate multiple discussions on political topics by operating huge botnets that share news, videos, and fuel threads aligned with government interests. Believe me, it is quite easy to influence a large audience by spreading specially crafted content.
Another weapon in the arsenal of the government is the fake news that can easily and rapidly spread among people that are not able to distinguish them from real news.
The communication strategy of the Ukrainian government is perfect and plays an important role in sensitizing the public opinion on the invasion of their country. This is the first war that we are following through social media, it could be inside our homes in real-time. For this reason, the Russian government has banned social networks in the country, because it fears that the images and the news shared through social media could impact the internal social context. Social media are a powerful weapon and could be compared to non-state actors due to their capability to interfere with governments’ politics.
Below is my interview in the Farsi language, enjoy it:
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(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Propaganda)