Social media part of global disruptive forces: PM

Friday, 31 August 2018 00:52 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Says new media has potential to destabilise nations 
  • Believes conflict management demands comprehensive and integrated approach 
  • Global arena reshaped by robotics, AI, economic imbalances, climate change, fight for resources 
  • Countries need to invest in fighting non-traditional threats  

By Shanika Sriyananda 

Advanced cyber security threats, including those that could emerge from social media, are part of non-traditional threats that countries must work together to quell, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, calling for countries to subscribe to stronger global collaboration and international best practices. 

Delivering the keynote address at the two-day Colombo Defence Seminar 2018 held at the BMICH under the theme ‘Security in an Era of Global Disruption’, he said technology-driven new media including social media could be a source of non-traditional threat.

“New media, including social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other websites on the internet, are also becoming global disruptive forces. We have seen the potential of this new media to destabilise nations and effect serious changes in countries,” he noted. “These global disruptive forces can be used as an instrument by one state or non-state actor to weaken another state before gaining control of another entity. Therefore responses for combating these threats need solid practices including identifying gaps.”

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that moving from the virtual battlefield to the real world, countries encounter new trends that can shape extremism. 

“This is in the spectrum of conflict, which can begin from peaceful demonstration and swing all the way to insurgency, to catastrophic terrorism.” 

He also said increased human interactions facilitated through the internet and social media make cognition, perceptions and opinions instantly available to the masses across the world.

“The nature of warfare is shifting from physical to online owing to the increased use of computers, electrical magnetic spectrum, artificial intelligence and all other cutting-age activities,” he said, adding that the 21st Century opens up traditional and non-traditional security threats including natural calamities from climate change, human exodus, displacement, violent non-state actors, religious radicalism and extremist political activities.

Although the nature of warfare has remained as it was in ancient times, with the clashes of interests between organised groups and states, the science of warfare has drastically changed.

Referring to a quote by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who said that political power grows out of “a barrel of a gun”, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said 60 years later conflicts were no longer limited to conventional weapons and battles and therefore conflict management and resolution demands a more comprehensive and integrated approach than ever before.

“Today’s battlefields are not only expanding as noted by the US Army General Mark Odum, they are converging and compressing, creating a situation where fast-moving global trends across all elements of national powers are transforming the nature of present society and impacting human life.” 

The emergence of new economies, economic rebalancing, competition for resources, cyber and space warfare, collective and artificial intelligence, demographic changes and urbanisation, big data, power generation, robotics, mass manufacturing, technology and engineering remain significant trends that are reshaping the global arena.

Wickremesinghe emphasised the development of these trends had the potential to “outgun the most advanced and sophisticated militaries in the time to come” and deliver a new global order that may not embrace the treasured values of the existing democratic system.

“It is essential to apply the best practice approach to reduce national vulnerability immediately and to develop robust cyber security systems to prevent disruptions by cyber-attacks with the collaboration of all nations.”

- Pic by Lasantha Kumara