War is no longer fought just on a battlefield – guns and warriors have been replaced by computers and hackers. Cyber warfare has been bandied around, with several governments setting up designated units for just this. However, the British Army has gone one step further by creating a unit of ‘Twitter Troops’ for winning the hearts and minds in the social media war.
The British Army now has a specialist unit of what it calls ‘creative soldiers’. 77 Brigade will be tasked with fighting wars on entirely new battlefields. The specialist unit will be made up of current troops pulled from the Army, Navy and Air Force. They will be joined by civilians that are trained in the use of several social media channels and psychological warfare operations.
Tweet Your Head Shots?
The head of the Army, General Nicholas Carter, has spoken of the aims and ambitions of the new army in the digital age. “The brigade consists of more than just traditional capabilities,” he said speaking to the BBC, “It is an organisation that sits at the heart of trying to operate smarter.” It is hoped that effective use of mobile applications and social networks both on the front line and back in the UK will influence the behaviour of local populations.
This isn’t the first time opinions and emotions have been the focus of war efforts, with tactics to win the ‘hearts and minds’ dating back to the second World War. It is the first time a dedicated brigade has been created to focus entirely on digital media channels, however social media is no stranger to war and revolutions use.
Social media was used successfully by revolutions in Egypt and is still in use heavily in Syria, as well as being the number one source for breaking news and events. The events leading up to the death of Osama Bin Laden were first spread using Twitter, however it’s always the source of a few false news outbreaks. Lets hope this leads to less bloodshed and more followers on Instagram.