Digital Influence Warfare in the Age of Social Media

by James J. F. Forest


In today's digital age, politicians, corporations, governments, and terrorists are influencing people's beliefs and behaviors through social media, email, cable television, and other technologies.

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Cover image for Digital Influence Warfare in the Age of Social Media

February 2021


Pages 273
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Security Studies/Science, Technology, and Security
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This timely book spotlights how various entities are using the Internet to shape people's perceptions and decision-making. Also describes detailed case studies as well as the tools and methods used to identify automated, fake accounts.

This book brings together three important dimensions of our everyday lives. First is digital—the online ecosystem of information providers and tools, from websites, blogs, discussion forums, and targeted email campaigns to social media, video streaming, and virtual reality. Second, influence—the most effective ways people can be persuaded, in order to shape their beliefs in ways that lead them to embrace one set of beliefs and reject others. And finally, warfare—wars won by the information and disinformation providers who are able to influence behavior in ways they find beneficial to their political, social, and other goals.

The book provides a wide range of specific examples that illustrate the ways people are being targeted by digital influencers. There is much more to digital influence warfare than terrorist propaganda, "fake news," or Russian efforts to manipulate elections: chapters examine post-truth narratives, fabricated "alternate facts," and brainwashing and disinformation within the context of various political, scientific, security, and societal debates. The final chapters examine how new technical tools, critical thinking, and resilience can help thwart digital influence warfare efforts.


  • Integrates interdisciplinary perspectives from security studies, psychology, sociology, criminology, information technology, and several other fields of study
  • Examines the ways in which terrorists, governments, politicians, corporations, and many others use online technology to influence beliefs and behaviors
  • Offers detailed case studies to illustrate how people succumb to the digital influence warfare efforts of governments, terrorists, politicians, corporations, and others
  • Explains the tools and methods used to identify automated, fake accounts on social media ("bots") as well as efforts to delete or suspend users for offensive content or attempts to spread disinformation
  • Provides clear explanations of technical terms and tools used by those who engage in these digital influence efforts
Series Description

Praeger Security International

As the world gets "smaller" through technology and globalization, the security risks we face grow and multiply.

International security in the 21st century is not a topic that can be adequately addressed in nightly news soundbites or online articles intended to be relevant for 24 hours or less. Comprehending these complex issues requires insight from foreign policy specialists, diplomats, military officials, peace scholars, historians, and security experts—participants and observers on all sides of each conflict. This series provides the tools for understanding security issues in our uncertain, unstable world.

Covering global hot spots from Iran to Venezuela and subjects ranging from terrorism and cyber warfare to food security, books in the Praeger Security International series give readers access to carefully considered and highly informed viewpoints on the critical security issues that threaten to destabilize our world. With titles authored by diplomats, academic researchers, journalists, military leaders and combatants, legal experts, psychologists, and other knowledgeable specialists, these books offer in-depth analysis and international perspectives that are unavailable in the mass media. These titles represent an invaluable resource for students, researchers, and policymakers as well as for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the complex issues that affect our lives and future.


  • Provides reliable, comprehensive information on all matters relating to security that is ideal for students, teachers, researchers, and professionals
  • Offers insightful commentaries written by a diverse group of scholars and experts who provide interdisciplinary treatments of newsworthy events and important historical occurrences
Author Info

James J. F. Forest , PhD, is professor in the School of Criminology and Justice Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is also visiting professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and senior fellow at the U.S. Joint Special Operations University. Forest previously served on the faculty of the United States Military Academy, West Point (2001–2010). He has served as an expert witness for terrorism-related court cases and has provided testimony and briefings to the intelligence community and congressional committees. He is author of 20 books and dozens of research articles.

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