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Make Data Work
March 25-28, 2019
San Francisco, CA
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Likewar: How social media is changing the world…and how the world is changing social media

Peter Singer (New America)
10:10am10:25am Thursday, March 28, 2019
Location: Ballroom
Secondary topics:  Security and Privacy
Average rating: ****.
(4.80, 20 ratings)

Terrorists live-stream their attacks, “Twitter wars” sell music albums and produce real-world casualties, and viral misinformation alters not just the result of battles but the very fate of nations. The result is that war, tech, and politics have blurred into a new kind of battle space that plays out on our smartphones.

For five years, P. W. Singer researched how social media works and its effect on the news, politics, and war—examples include how ISIS copies the Instagram tactics of Taylor Swift, how a former World of Warcraft addict foils war crimes thousands of miles away, how internet trolls shape elections, how China uses a smartphone app to police the thoughts of 1.4 billion citizens, and more. He shares the results of his work—the basis for his recent book, LikeWar, which has been lauded by figures as diverse as the creator of the internet, the director of the CIA, and the producer of The Purge movies—which uncovers questions that range from how and why things go viral to the new rules of power in the age of social media to exactly what can we all do to navigate our way through a world increasingly shaped by “likes” and lies.

Photo of Peter Singer

Peter Singer

New America

Peter Warren Singer is strategist at New America and an editor at Popular Science magazine. He has been named by the Smithsonian as one of the nation’s 100 leading innovators, by Defense News as one of the 100 most influential people in defense issues, by Foreign Policy to their “top 100 global thinkers” list, as an official “mad scientist” for the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, and by Onalytica social media data analysis as one of the 10 most influential voices in the world on cybersecurity and the 25th most influential in the field of robotics. Peter’s award-winning books include Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, Children at War, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, and Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, a technothriller crossed with nonfiction research, which has been endorsed by people who range from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to the coinventor of the internet to the writer of HBO’s Game of Thrones. His latest book is LikeWar, which explores how social media has changed war and politics and how war and politics has changed social media. It was named an Amazon book of the month and a New York Times “new and notable” selection. In its review, Booklist argued that “LikeWar should be required reading for everyone living in a democracy and all who aspire to.” Peter’s past work includes serving at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Harvard University, and as the founding director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at Brookings, where he was the youngest person named senior fellow in its 100-year history.