Latvia-based NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence has released a new report on how social media is used to target individuals, public opinion, and "even the functioning of the state”.
The report puts blame on social media giants for being active participants that wield “significant influence over what takes place in the social media space”.
Loopholes in algorithms, the report says, are “constantly being exploited by malicious actors working to influence their target audience”.
The means and methods have also changed, since automated bots are being taken down. Instead, deepfakes and encrypted platforms help obscure who’s behind the attacks.
Here are the key ways these actors use social media for their goals:
According to the report, there was a relative decrease in the use of social media for news consumption around the world in 2018, which, according to Reuters Institute, could be “a consequence of Facebook changing its algorithm to downgrade news content”.
However, as news consumption shifts to peer-to-peer and encrypted networks such as WhatsApp and closed social media groups, it “makes it even more difficult for regulators to identify and counter malicious use of social media,” the report concludes.
“Individual users have a greater responsibility to critically evaluate information they consume, and social media companies should take the necessary steps to tackle this growing threat.”