Ubiquity with a Dark Side: Civil-Military Gaps on Social Media Usage


Ubiquity with a Dark Side: Civil-Military Gaps on Social Media Usage


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Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Behavioral Sciences and Leadership

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Book Chapter


Social media has fundamentally changed communication and interaction in today's society. Apart from being used by individuals, it is also omnipresent in public sector organisations such as the armed forces.

This book examines the opportunities and risks associated with social media in the context of the armed forces from an international, social scientific perspective. It discuses the impact of social media in the everyday life of military personnel and analyses the extent to which social media influences their performance, be it as a distraction or as a source of perceived appreciation. It particularly highlights the representation of masculinity and femininity in military social media channels, since the way gender is portrayed on social media has an effect on how future recruits and – at the other end of the military career spectrum – veterans feel they are approached.

The book also focuses on the new form of follow-up discussion, which enables the armed forces to interact with the population. On social media, the armed forces are publicly presented, and this shapes the public’s opinions on them. Further, the armed forces can use debates as a monitoring tool of society's attitudes towards them or towards events that have an effect on society. Conversely, social media can lend a voice to military personnel, allowing them to be publicly heard. As discussions on social media can only be controlled to a limited extent, the context in which the armed forces are discussed alters their sphere of influence and potentially leads to a loss of control. An extreme example of this is the use of social media as a tool to strategically distribute misinformation in order to shape public opinion and threaten national security. Moreover, the use of social media to demoralise adversaries or to harm their credibility results in social media being considered a cyber weapon that affects politics and military activities.

Publisher City

New York


social media, military, civilian-military relations

Ubiquity with a Dark Side: Civil-Military Gaps on Social Media Usage

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