Cognitive confrontation on the social media battlefield

Source: People's Liberation Army Daily Author: Duan Wenling Liu Jiali Responsible editor: Liu Shangjing 2023-02-02 06:59:01

Cognitive confrontation on the social media battlefield

■ Duan Wenling Liu Jiali

●The "invisible manipulation" of social media in issue planning, the "invisible embedding" of information production, and the "seamless link" in information dissemination methods can effectively achieve the "insensible" impact on the audience

The practice of local wars in recent years shows that modern wars are often fought on two battlefields at the same time: one is the battlefield where personnel and equipment compete in real space; The other is the social media battlefield of cyberspace information and cognition. The cognitive confrontation on the social media battlefield aims to shape the macro framework of the target audience to recognize, define and understand the event, and strive to influence the actions of the target audience through the customized information transmission under the macro framework, and then exert a significant or even decisive impact on the actual war by influencing key cognitive factors. Due to the linkage and superposition of information dissemination mechanisms, the confrontation style of social media presents complexity and comprehensiveness, but the key is to carry out cognitive competition for the target audience. At present, there are four main types of countermeasures that can be clearly identified.

Information perturbation. That is, posting specific information on social media to influence the target audience's perception of the real belligerent situation, which in turn shapes their position and changes their actions. At present, social media has developed a variety of platforms such as instant messaging, mobile live broadcast, picture and video, game entertainment, etc., which basically realize the type coverage and functional replacement of traditional media, and its vivid and rich media forms make it easy for people to identify with the content of communication. At present, there are more than 40 billion social media users worldwide, and once the response to certain sensitive events is too fast and too hot, it will have a huge ripple effect and social impact. During the 2012 Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Israeli military continuously released battlefield information through the "IDF Spokesperson" social media account, not only to express its own position, but also to demonstrate military deterrence by publicizing the results of the war. Not to be outdone, its opponent Hamas has made full use of the "Qassam Brigade" account to fight back and win international support by portraying the weak and the victim. The actions of the two sides have been dubbed "Twitter wars" by the media, which also signals that the war is expanding into the realm of perception through social media.

Discourse competition. That is, competitively release key evaluation indicators, and then build a discourse environment based on corresponding standards, and subtly shape the cognitive framework that is beneficial to a specific party. At present, the "trolling" strategy of spreading narratives through social media and online commentary, gradually influencing public perception, and then helping to achieve war or political goals, is the main manifestation of this style of action. Its main practice is to "lead the rhythm" by spreading false and misleading remarks in hot events, thereby awakening social media users' cognitive biases, selectively shaping the target audience's cognitive framework, intensifying the target audience's cognitive confrontation, and aggravating the tension in cyberspace and even social opinion. At the same time, with the support of the algorithm recommendation technology of intelligent social media platforms, the false and misleading information spread by "trolls" is more directional, and the group effect is more obvious, coupled with the application of social robots, automatic broadcasting, audio-visual fitting, immersive experience and other technologies, users are more likely to be affected by the continuous influence of this information, cognition is more likely to be affected or coerced, and then form or intensify their cognitive bias and emotional psychology on a certain topic. In recent years, the full use of social media platforms such as "Facebook" and "Twitter" in many major international events shows that the "invisible manipulation" of social media in issue planning, the "invisible embedding" of information production, and the "seamless link" in information dissemination methods can effectively achieve the "insensible" impact on the audience.

Public opinion obscures. That is, to cooperate with specific offline actions at a specific time, including specific actions in the military and political fields, to create specific types of public opinion to widely occupy the public opinion field, and then influence the trend of public opinion. This pattern of action is currently mainly achieved through intelligent media such as social robots. According to a survey by foreign research institutions, 2000% of the 120.66 million "Twitter" posts collected from various social media platforms to more than <>,<> popular websites were shared by robots. Some studies believe that the common and effective method of exerting cognitive influence is to use machine learning to tap user emotions and biases to screen and target the most vulnerable audiences, and then quickly and intensively "shoot" customized "mental ammunition" at the target group. That is, through a large number of "fake news" and "inaccurate information" consciously shape and carefully fabricate the so-called "facts" or even rumors, after the implementation of accurate delivery, the "first cause effect" is formed in the target audience, and then through the wide dissemination of intelligent media and the "lie flooding" of the online trolls, the formation of "changed facts", confusing the target audience's cognition of the "facts" truth, so as to achieve the purpose of affecting their psychology and manipulating their cognition.

Information blocking. That is, to carry out technical attacks, blockades and even physical destruction of the enemy's information dissemination channels, so that the two sides are in an asymmetric and unbalanced state in the cognitive confrontation, thereby monopolizing the right to name, interpret and set the agenda, and carry out strong "cognitive shaping" of the target audience. At present, Western countries often use technological advantages such as mastering root servers to invade and control other countries' Internet and network communications. In 2009, the U.S. government authorized Microsoft to cut off instant messaging ports on the Internet in Syria, Iran, Cuba and other countries, paralyzing their networks in an attempt to "wipe them out" from the world's Internet. In 2022, the social media platform "Facebook" publicly announced the restriction of some media in Russia, Iran and other countries, marked their identities, and deleted the propaganda of these media against the United States, so as to gain a dominant position in the cognitive confrontation. However, based on the consistent principle of "if there is a ban, bypass it" in the Internet world, it is difficult to achieve a complete blockade of the opponent's information in real operation, and the social media battlefield will still be full of "war fog" where various information including false information is entangled.

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