« Back to FrontPage

New social media

New social media are interactive and participative online platforms providing web-based and mobile technologies for the design of user-generated contents, which do not require technical/technological knowledge. Communication and data sharing are based on blogs or microblogs (e.g., Twitter), content communities (e.g., YouTube), social networks (e.g., Facebook, Xing) and others.

New social media's relevance for security#

New social media are expected to increase in their practical relevance for security, and as a subject of security research. This includes the following aspects:

  • New Social Network Technologies will not replace, but provide additional tools
  • Dissemination of information need appropriate localizing
  • Social media have their role in disaster response but this needs to be provide for in advance; they cannot be just “switched on” in disaster situations
  • Emphasis should be on a mobile environment (beyond web-based) with low bandwidth
  • The main advantage is sensoring of individual information from masses of victims
  • The challenge is to connect crisis social data with decision-makers to act on it
  • Digital volunteers should be recruited and committed on a world-wide scale to do new social media monitoring, not to assisting on the scene, etc.
  • Social media input can distract situational awareness and wrongly influence allocation of resources in emergency management
  • Foresight is necessary to explore where new social media will be used in the futrue and where not and what they will look like in the future - in order not to address challenges of tomorrow with technologies of today

Security ethics aspects of new social media: abuses of social networking#

Security ethics of new social media include emerging patterns of behaviour on the part of individuals and groups in civil society (which could also, at times, involve organized crime):


Certain groups, notably Wikileaks, publish large amounts of sometimes security-sensitive information. Some of this activity is whistle-blowing and defensible as a kind of journalism, but sometimes large amounts of quasi-private information are revealed (as when email spools are seized) and some of the information disclosed by Wikileaks has been military and diplomatic. There are good reasons, including ethical reasons, why candid diplomatic cables should not be public, and people's lives can sometimes be put at risk when military information is disclosed. Wikileaks is very private about its own activities, and though it claims to defend “Article 19” human rights, its attitude about the rule of law is ambivalent.

Anonymous is a non-hierarchical association of hackers who mount many different kinds of cyber-action, sometimes in conjunction with organizations like Wikileaks. They are responsible for many cyber-attacks, in particular on organizations that suspended their services to Wikileaks, as well as the Swedish prosecutor's office. They tend to attack a miscellaneous group of targets –Scientologists, surveillance bodies, paedophiles, anti-gay rights groups. On the other hand, they are arguably part of cyber society. Cyberactivism is a natural subject of future Security Research. Some ethical issues arise from the state response to their activities, and the tension with civil liberties, but other issues arise for individuals, particularly when their activities lie outside the scope of domestic or international law.


Trolling is the phenomenon of character-assassination and gross insult on the internet, almost always carried out anonymously. Targets can be anyone, for example a Cambridge professor whose looks and taste in fashion have recently been very cruelly criticized after she presented a television series. Other targets have been bereaved people and teenagers whose postings on the internet have been found offensive or pretentious. Trolling is reasonably included in research on the limits of policing the internet. Such research raises clear ethical questions. Should trolls be tolerated as part of a free speech regime, or should they be prosecuted legally, or simply publicly identified?


Digilante-ism is the online exposure of bad personal behaviour in public, usually through the posting of video material. Racist outbursts are a familiar target; so are episodes of cruelty to animals. The purpose of posting is to get the wrongdoer publicly identified and punished - partly through abusive communication from disapproving internet users. Some acts on the part of Anonymous are digilante-ism, but there are also acts of digilate-ism by independent individuals. There are phenomena related to digilate-ism that are much better motivated - including the use of online communities to protest against violence .


  • Safko, L.: The Social Media Bible. 2nd Ed. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2010.
  • Jaokar, A.V., Jacobs, B. & Moore, A.: Social Media Marketing: How Data Analytics Helps to Monetize the User Base in Telecoms, Social Networks, Media and Advertising in a Converged. Futuretext, 2009.
0 Attachments
Average (0 Votes)