The UK is creating a social media army

Billy Ehrenberg
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Social media has changed how combat is reported (Source: Getty, City A.M.)

The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots.

The Simpsons missed one important point: the wars of the future may actually be fought over social media.

The British Army is planning to create the 77th Brigade, a unit of 1,500 with soldiers drawn from across the country. It will carry out what is termed non-lethal warfare, using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to stage psychological warfare.

Social media has changed the way that combat is reported, with the civilian population able to read communications and opinions from eyewitnesses and even enemy combatants. The Islamic State, for example, is known for its social media presence. The UK military is keen to have the ability to affect the online narrative. Israel and the United States are both already involved in this brand of psychological warfare.

According to an army spokesman

77th Brigade is being created to draw together a host of existing and developing capabilities essential to meet the challenges of modern conflict and warfare. It recognises that the actions of others in a modern battlefield can be affected in ways that are not necessarily violent.

Israel has been using such techniques since the 2008 – 2009 conflict in Gaza, and the Israel Defence Force is active across around 30 platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and You Tube.

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