Effects of Social Media on National Security of Liberia

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Updated: Aug 20, 2023
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Information dissemination is believed to be the lifeline of any organization. It is a method for eliminating doubts about an organization’s activities and achieving good governance. However, unscrupulous individuals can misuse information dissemination as a conduit to undermine a nation’s national security by spreading falsehoods, primarily through the media. Thus, the media can be used to achieve either positive or negative intentions regarding national security. Representing public opinion, the media is crucial to societal functioning. Through newspapers, radio, and television, people acquire information. However, it is debatable that the media not only selectively informs about events or society but also shapes them. (Fulcher and Scott) Since the 18th Century in Europe, the media has been exercising significant political influence. From its early establishment, it has aided in the revolutionization of the social and political climates of nation-states by strongly criticizing governmental policies with no positive impacts on society.

Before Africa’s colonization and the spread of Western education, traditional forms of communication such as the drum were prevalent for transmitting information understood by the targeted audience. These various means of communication have helped to shape the social and political landscape in Africa. Furthermore, the invention of appliances like the radio in the 20th Century further facilitated the exchange of political ideas and promoted socio-political development.

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Information and Communication Technology (ICT) education, prevalent since the early 2000s, is another platform that has significantly boosted socio-political advancement in Africa. The rapid growth in ICT has made instant links through telecommunications achievable using satellites, effectively turning the world into an informational “global village.” The transition from analogue to digital coding of information by ICT development has facilitated the use of Wi-Fi, Infra-red, and Bluetooth in devices like cell phones, laptops, and tablets, enabling music playback, internet communications, and even gaming. Consequently, social networking services have become a source of concern for national security.

A social networking service is an online platform that focuses on fostering social networks or relations among people. Users of this platform share interests, activities, backgrounds, or real-life connections. The most renowned social networking websites include Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest. New websites are constantly being developed, allowing people to connect and interact over the web. These sites enable individuals to make new friends, build business connections, and share information and videos. However, social media has also become a powerful tool in the hands of criminals and insurgents for perpetrating cybercrimes.

Cybercrimes have risen unbelievably to become a national concern, as cyber threats need to be taken more seriously. Cybercrime is any criminal activity that involves a computer, networked device, or a network. Most of these crimes are carried out either to make a profit for the cybercriminals. Some are carried out against computers or devices directly to damage or disable them, while others use computers or networks to spread malware, illegal information, images, or other materials. Cyberspace has become an essential part of the contemporary information society. Enormous information is available in different layouts for end users. However, the real concern is not just the spreading of inaccurate or misleading information, but the mischievous content and intent. The internet has long ceased to be the exclusive domain of technically knowledgeable users. User-friendly software and interfaces enable all types of users, including beginners and children, to interact without a second thought. User-friendly applications, such as social networking sites, allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks. This new terrain contains a hotcake of valuable information and, of course, potential victims.

There are several online news sources operated in the Liberian diaspora that receive information from sources inside the country. There is also unlimited access to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media in the country, and the majority of Liberians within all of the major cities and county capitals have access to smartphones, including radio, which are their sources of information. Access to these gadgets has increased social media activities over time, which has grasped the attention of the government and caused the government to introduce the registration of sim cards of every individual owning a cellphone on the basis of national security concerns.8 However, this decision by the government has had no negative impact. Rather, the country has witnessed a growing use of social media by many Liberians. Interestingly, many Liberians, especially politicians, are using the social networking platform as a conduit to express their views about the government, something that is causing social disorder among the people.

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Social media can be used to influence a country’s development and national security both positively and negatively. It is undoubtedly used by criminal-minded individuals and insurgents as an instrument to radicalize and recruit, spread propaganda, and use as a ground for training, as has been witnessed in recent times. Extremists, for example, use chat rooms, dedicated servers, websites, and social media tools as propaganda machines and to solicit funds through cybercrime. These websites and other internet services may be run by international terrorist groups or individual extremists. YouTube channels and Facebook pages of insurgent supporters may radicalize youth sympathizers and also provide a means for communication between them. This scenario presents a grave danger for national security in a democratic and pluralistic society such as Liberia, where national interest must always be the pursuit of national security. It is against this background that this study seeks to answer the following questions.

  • What is the relationship between social media and national security in Liberia?
  • What are the issues associated with social media in the pursuit of national security in Liberia?
  • How has social media affected Liberia’s national security?
  • What are the challenges and prospects for social media impacting Liberia’s national security?
  • What strategies can be adopted to leverage social media to enhance national security in Liberia?

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Effects of Social Media on National Security of Liberia. (2021, Oct 20). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/effects-of-social-media-on-national-security-of-liberia/