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LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,679 ratings  ·  279 reviews
Two defense experts explore the collision of war, politics, and social media, where the most important battles are now only a click away.

Through the weaponization of social media, the internet is changing war and politics, just as war and politics are changing the internet. Terrorists livestream their attacks, “Twitter wars” produce real‑world casualties, and viral misinf
Kindle Edition, 421 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Mario the lone bookwolf
Nothing could, in an economic or real war, be more attractive than to be able to influence the population of all countries with internet and social media after years of infiltrating the social networks both by manipulating trends and creating undetectable armies of millions of fake or, and that´s an unsolvable problem, real profiles or just bots and AIs. Those are already so advanced that it´s very hard to differentiate between real humans and bot armies controlled by algorithms and it will soon ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Singer and Brookings provide an overview of how propaganda/advertising has become exponentially more powerful via social media. ISIS effectively used social media to attract new adherents and amazingly, used it to intimidate the Iraqi army such that they relinquished territory without a fight. Anyone following current news coverage knows that the Russians were ‘everywhere’ in the 2016 election—hiring an army of full-time disinformation artists to flood Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in order to ...more
Michael Burnam-Fink

"There is a war... for your Mind!"

That's the slogan of InfoWars, the incendiary conspiracy news network and nutritional supplement marketing firm. And while Alex Jones is wrong about almost everything, he's right about that. In LikeWar Singer and Brooking ably synthesize a sophisticated picture of information warfare in 2018, drawing from sources as diverse as Taylor Swift, Donald Trump, and ISIS, to argue that the internet has lead to a blurring of lines between consumer, citizen, journalist, a
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every new technology is disruptive and many of those in the past bear an uncanny resemblance in their effects to those of today. Each has been heralded as providing the means for everlasting peace. Moveable type democratized book production making reading almost a required skill yet contributed to religious upheaval. The telegraph and then the telephone made communication virtually instantaneous and while they brought people closer together provided the means for generals to control their troops ...more
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an extremely interesting --but frightening-- look at how social media has become weaponized. Highly recommend; we all need to be informed. Unfortunately, I'm just not "feeling" a more in-depth review at the moment. ...more
Maru Kun
Oct 30, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality - interview with the author in which he reminds us of Trump's comment that "I would never have become President if it was not for social media".

I Thought the Web Would Stop Hate, Not Spread It - article in the NYT on the same topic.
Let me say it again: Social media platforms — and Facebook and Twitter are as guilty of this as Gab is — are designed so that the awful travels twice as fast as the good. And they are operating with slop
Jurgen Appelo
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disinformation
A real eye-opener.
11811 (Eleven)
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I beg everyone to get regularly get your news from at least one source that you disagree with. We are headed for dystopia if we do not fix this fundamental social problem.

NYT readers and WSJ readers need to start reading both.  

Fake news readers and proliferators need to cut it out.

Do your duty.

Jill Elizabeth
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an extraordinary book this is! I am currently engaged in a love-hate relationship with social media. I love the ability to keep track of what is going on in the lives of the people I care about; I hate that this keeping track seems to be replacing actual human contact. I love the ease of knowing what's going on in people's lives; I hate the ease with which miscellaneous people I don't want to know every detail somehow manage to glean it from things I put up to share with those I care about. ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Massively overhypes the relevance of social media in real world conflicts and conflates every online interaction with "war". A shallow mass of anecdotes with no bigger picture or real desire to quantify the problems of social media manipulation. Occasional insights and a comparably competent overview of the current counter measures that Facebook, Google, etc. employ, keep it from being a total waste of time. ...more
Joshua Bowen
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is both fascinating and terrifying. I could not put it down. A perfect book to be my first read of 2019.

Bottom line: if you use or are affected by social media, you NEED to read this book, and soon.

Makes for a good audiobook listen as well.
Kressel Housman
I'd like to think that since the 60's, governments can't get as many people to fight in wars, so there are fewer of them. I don't know if the facts would bear that out, but I don't think many people in Western countries would cheer for war the way the crowds did for World War One. (See pic below.) Actually, one of the historical tidbits in this book is that both the Kaiser and the Czar were afraid not to declare war then because they feared the people's reaction. But I don't think people see war ...more
Kent Winward
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was pleased with Jaron Lanier's arguments in Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now over deleting social media accounts, but this book gives some pause as to how we should be fighting the weaponization of social media. I don't know if Lanier's ostrich-head in the sand approach flies after reading this impressive recent history of how social media is used to manipulate the populace. ...more
When it first launched, Facebook and other social media was seen as a cool, if benign, piece of technology that the internet had made possible. After the the 2016 election, the public was made aware of how social media could be used as a tool to manipulate an election, a very unsettling development. However, as the authors of this jaw-dropping book make clear, social media is not just some tool to keep in touch with friends any more. Social media is a new battlefront in both cyber warfare and tr ...more
Ira Therebel
I have really mixed feelings about this book. I loved parts of it and I hated others. I loved the volume of information and I hated the obvious bias and manipulation. In general though I will say that I liked the book.

It really offers a lot of information on how social media has been used to manipulate people. How it is used in China to control people. How it has been used in war and politics. The stories about ISIS using it were fascinating. I didn't know much about how it has been used in the
Eustacia Tan
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nlb-ereads
This is another one of the books that’s been on the TBR list for some time. While it’s not related to the overuse of social media, I thought it would be interesting to read about how social media is being used as “weapons”.

LikeWar argues that social media is being used by various groups to advance their cause – from Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency to ISIS. Hence, the notion of a “war” taking place in cyberspace. Although the creators and first adopters of the internet saw it as a plac
Jami Lilo
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An engaging read. While the subject matter can be depressing, who doesn't look at the current cyber world and cringe?, the authors keep the information quite entertaining. While learning specifics behind personal recreations, planting seeds of doubt in our brains by groups and organizations, and recruiting for actual physical war, the theme is that the internet if far more dangerous than the days of the wild west shoot outs. Like advertising, memes do their job of making people laugh or feel and ...more
Mike Kanner
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[Review based on an early edition from the publisher]

Singer explains it all!

As he did with WIRED FOR WAR, Singer explores a new dimension to conflicts to the non-expert. In doing so, he also gives you a short history of social media and the use of media in manipulating the opinions of the public. I should also note that he does include a short discussion of how social media has changed our sense of community and American politics, including both Trump's use of Twitter as a direct line to his sup
Richard Lawrence
LikeWars is a well written, well researched and penetrating analysis on how powerful social media has become in influencing society, politics and our perceptions of what is real and what is not. More importantly, it attempts to chart a trajectory of how social media will evolve in the future and powerful role artificial intelligence (AI), specifically neural networks, will play in determining that trajectory. The solutions presented by the authors to the issues we are facing and will face are as ...more
Jon Walsh
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit, I had some severe reservations about this book, however after finishing it became clear to me that both Authors are undeniably experts in their respective fields and as such, are far more educated as to the potential negative consequences from everyday digital dust ups such as "trolling," and "fake news."

I came into the book with a stringent belief in first amendment principles and was prone to seeing some of the recent censorship and calls for speech regulation as unwarrante
Ryan Mannina
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that every living person should read. It's a fascinating story of the history and evolution of the internet and social media, and an exploration of the ways in which these tools are giving corporations, foreign governments, criminals, and terrorists the most insidious form of power over unsuspecting citizens. Not the power simply to make us do what we don't want to do, but the power to shape our very perceptions, beliefs, and desires. The implications for the future of war and pea ...more
This pairs well with A Song Called Youth (which anticipates the kind of world we inhabit) and Paul Virilio's War and Cinema. In fact, I was kind of surprised that War and Cinema wasn't invoked at all in LikeWar, especially Virilio's discussion of the evolving nature of what constitutes the front line of the battlefield--now the front line is in everyone's pocket. (That would have made for a pithy summary of LikeWar.) But this is so full of totally mind-bending contemporary examples of military-c ...more
Russell Chee
Certainly a fascinating book, though one that is, at the end, not entirely convincing. LikeWar essentially argues that with the creation of the Internet and the platforms of social media that have come to dominate it and informational processing, the true danger is not the Cyberwar predicted and anticipated by many - with many militaries across the world, for example, preparing themselves against the indiscriminate hackers of rogue nations from North Korea to Russia - but in fact a greater kind ...more
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is an eye-opener for everyone who uses social media, and that includes everyone. I know a lot more about LikeWar than I did before reading this book.

The book starts by giving an overview of how social media, especially Twitter, played a huge role in landing Donald Trump in the oval office. By the next few chapters, I got fed-up by continues examples of 'Islamic State'. I know what ISIS stands for but I live in an Islamic State (Pakistan) and continuous use of this particular phrase in
Deane Barker
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Devastating analysis of how much we suck as humans, and how easily manipulated we are by social media. It's a long-range survey of how governments are using social media as a weapon, or force-multipler, for their own ends.

Extensively researched. Seems like a long book, but it is *literally* 1/3 endnotes.
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like War initially caught my eye for a personal reason. I wrote a story that was about a man who falls in love with a woman who works at a Russian styled troll factory and I used this book to fact check and color my story (I realize after writing it that I had barely scratched the surface). What I realized was that I had discovered the effect of social media was even broader than I ever thought. And that even if we were to “unplug,” the cat is out of the bag. You can no more get the influence of ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two quotes from the book:

"All social media powers were founded on the optimistic promise that a more close knit and communal world would be a better one."

"We are so screwed it's beyond what most of us can imagine. And depending on how far you look into the future, it just gets worse."

LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media is a history guide of how we got from the first to the second quote in such a short period of time (Facebook is only about 14 years old). Reading this book at times frustra
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: collection
Currently the most interesting read of 2018, and quite possibly, of all times. I would recommend it to anyone as it didn't feel skewed to a political side, even if there is a lot of politics discussed. Audiobook is 11 hours and 21 minutes long. ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book will make you question quite a bit about social media and its power and influence. It covers topics as diverse as ISIS, the history of the internet, Russian election meddling, and Taylor Swift. Very informative and anyone who uses a computer should probably read this. It was well written and well researched and you will get a lot out of it.
Bob H
In a month -- October 2018 -- in which self-activating, internet-inspired terrorists, from mail bombers to synagogue shooters, are more in the news than ever, this book couldn't be more timely or urgent. The authors have given us a wide-ranging and compelling look at how the internet in general, and most prominently the social media, Facebook and the rest, have turned out to be a menace. Coarsened public dialogue is the least of it, we read here, and social media have been a theater of political ...more
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Peter Warren Singer is Strategist and Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. He previously was Director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution and the youngest scholar named Senior Fellow in Brookings's 101-year history. Described in the Wall Street Journal as “the premier futurist in the national- security environment," has been named by the Sm ...more

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“When someone engages in the spread of lies, hate, and other societal poisons, they should be stigmatized accordingly. It is not just shameful but dangerous that the purveyors of the worst behaviors on social media have enjoyed increased fame and fortune, all the way up to invitations to the White House. Stopping these bad actors requires setting an example and ensuring that repeat offenders never escape the gravity of their past actions and are excluded from the institutions and platforms of power that now matter most in our society.” 1 likes
“Does a retweet actually mean endorsement? For Dion Nissenbaum, the answer to this question landed him in a Turkish prison.” 1 likes
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