Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Fifty years ago this month, a small Pentagon project designed to allow scientists to share time on the early versions of computers changed the world. The first links of what originally called "ARPANET" moved us all into the Internet Age, changing everything from business, dating, to daily reads.
Along the way, though, the Internet also became a new kind of battlefield. Nations, organizations, and even individuals are now hacking not just the networks themselves (a.k.a. "cyberwar," where the object is to breach a network), but also increasingly the people on them (what can be thought of as "likewar," where the object is to drive something viral through a mix of likes, shares, and sometimes lies).
While critics might scoff at the notion of social media as a vital national security issue, LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media, is chock full of sobering reminders that what happens online doesn’t always stay there.
Every day, millions of young people swap selfies on Snapchat, update their status on Facebook, and swipe right on love interests on Tinder. For millennials, social media is essential for a 21st Century social life — but for 62-year-old political scientist Eliot A. Cohen, it apparently means the end of the human civilization as we know it. For malevolent actors ranging from the government of Vladimir Putin to the recruiters of the Islamic State, social media is a weapon which can undermine American democracy and even topple entire governments.