Using Social Media Warfare Tactics as Offensive Weapons

Merely being defensive in a conflict situation involving social media warfare tactics is far from sufficient. Offensive social media warfare tactics can become important tools for destabilizing and undermining an opposing fighting force. Many offensive tactics need to be put into play because, unlike defensive tactics, which can serve many purposes whether in conflict or not, offensive tactics are targeted toward the opposing forces in more specific situations. Offensive tactics and their targets are shown in Table 3.3.

The target audiences for offensive social media warfare tactics are shown in the far-left column of Table 3.3; they include major insurgent forces, advisors, and allied troops as the primary target audience for divisiveness tactics. Local sympathizing troops, governments, organizations, and civilians are the primary target audience for confusion, deception, and relationship building tactics. All audiences are targets for trolling and exposure; all audiences can be impacted, even if ever so slightly and probably more indirectly, by nullifying the legitimacy of the mission. The basic goals of each tactic are as follows:

  • ? Deception is the process of using invalid or false information or pretense to try to convince opponents that a specific position or proposition is true when there is no factual basis for the position.
  • ? Confusion tactics are processes designed to disorient and deceive opponents as to what is real and not real. In many ways, it is a classic propaganda method that is meant to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Table 3.3 Offensive Social Media Tactics in Conflict Environments

Target Audience

Applied Social Media Warfare Tactics

Insurgent force




Aligned factions


Allied troops

Local sympathizing troops


Local sympathizing government



Local sympathizing organizations





  • ? Divisiveness tactics involve instigating hatred and suspicion among opponents or the populace of an opposing nation or alliance.
  • ? Exposure tactics most often involve the unauthorized release of information that could embarrass or otherwise jeopardize the owner or creator of the information exposed.
  • ? Trolling is the process of having troops that respond to social media posts with messages that oppose the original posts; they are made by individuals or in the name of organizations that are attempting to influence, deceive, recruit, and indoctrinate.
  • ? Relationship building as an offensive tactic can be geared toward trying to sway insurgent sympathizers to change their loyalties away from the insurgents.
  • ? Nullifying opponents as an offensive tactic is the process of discrediting opponents in the eyes of alliance partners or non-partners that an alliance, nation, or organization is attempting to influence.

The nature of offensive social media warfare tactics was also discussed in Chapter 1.

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