The Principles of War Podcast
Social Media War

30 – Terrain Analysis for a Social Media War

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For an information operation that is fought of Facebook, how do you identify the Avenues of Approach?

We use OCOKA to conduct the terrain analysis for Information Analysis.  We look to orientate everyone to the human terrain in an information operation that is conducted using social media.

Observation and Fields of Fire:  Observation is no longer blocked by terrain nor limited by range.  The Internet Research Agency is located in Russia, but they are able to conduct operations as if they were based in Washington DC.  Tools like Twitterfall.  We look at spearfishing email attacks.  Facebook has tools inbuilt to enable adjusting the fall of shot for each of the posts that you are using. 

Cover and Concealment:  In a Social Media war, cover comes from the privacy settings.  Cover is asymmetric in a Social Media war.  We compare Op Tidal Wave 2, a conventional propaganda campaign with leaflet drops, compared to how it could be conducted with Social Media.

Obstacles:  We look at culture and language – grammar in particular.  These are the real barriers for operations conducted on Social Media.   

Key and Decisive Terrain:  The concept of key terrain is fundamentally changed when operations move onto social media.  We compare the 228 massacre in Taiwan and the Key Terrain there with disintermediation that social media creates.

Avenues of Approach:  Traditionally the enemy is canalised into an engagement area, before they can reach their objective.  Social Media war can strike directly at civilians in a target country.  There is no physical terrain to defend.  The avenues of approach now depend on the target demographic – Linkedin, vKontact, Facebook or Snapchat.  We briefly discuss the evolution of avenues of approach for information operations. 

This concludes the ground brief for social media operations.  Are there any questions?

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