In his new book, “War in 140 characters” journalist David Patrikarakos  shows how a simple message posted on social networks can influence a modern war.

In our days, “noise” about the war has become more important than the war itself. In his new book, “War in 140 characters” journalist David Patrikarakos  shows how social networks manage to shape modern wars.

Starting from the battle field in the Ukraine and continuing inside the trolls factory working for the Russian Government, the author reveals some people who have changed the course of military operations using just a laptop or a smartphone. The central idea of the book is that, in the digital age, the way of seeing and presenting the war has become more important than the war itself. Any content posted on social networks can produce a “virtual engagement of the masses” and can provide citizens with a power that matches the power of the state’s propaganda mechanisms, and – at times – even greater.


The teenager from Gaza

Farah Baker, known as the voice from Gaza during the Israeli bombing in 2014, can be the classic example of how a regular person can become an enemy for the state, with the help of social networks. Angry because of the intervention of the Israeli army, Farah, who was 16 years old in 2016, decided to go on social networks and post messages. She quickly became a source of information, especially since the media did not had access on the battlefield. Israel has counteracted the posts made by Farah but failed to dominate them despite making huge efforts.

The Facebook activist

Focusing on the Ukraine, the author presents the case of Anna Sandalova. Disgusted by the corruption and the Government’s inability to help the military, the woman decided to fill the void and launched a campaign to supply combatants on Facebook. She managed to raise things and personally deliver them on the front facing many dangers.

The digital age “Maskirovka”

On the other hand, Russian trolls proved to be just as active, but with the intention of causing chaos. Flooding the Internet with blogs and accounts on social networks, the trolls crated a web of lies and disinformation. According to a troll quoted by the author, his work was to find “idiots to read what they wanted to read” with the purpose of increasing the uncertainty within the Ukrainian population

The purpose of social networks

According to the author, social networks are often used by Governments to create disinformation. Social networks and content creators will constantly evolve and the challenge of fighting against disinformation will always remain a main concern.


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