In 1970, the Canadian cultural theorist Marshall McLuhan famously predicted that World War III, when it comes, will be “a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation”—a war waged in cyberspace, not on a defined battlefield. His prediction resonates with anyone trying to make sense of our opaque information environment, especially reporters and editors who now find themselves as drafted frontline recruits.
For journalists, this era of information warfare presents both a personal and an existential threat. It also presents a myriad of new questions about how the rules and ethics applied to journalism should change. To lean again on McLuhan: “Electrical information devices for universal, tyrannical womb-to-tomb surveillance are causing a very serious dilemma between our claim to privacy and the community’s need to know.”
According to research by Amnesty International, women across the political spectrum face frequent online harassment, and for women of color that harassment is exponentially worse. Reporters who investigate extremism have found their own information and the identities of their families posted online, and their editors and colleagues harassed. Outside the US, the troll armies of authoritarian governments swarm against critical press, as Rappler founder Maria Ressa found out in the Philippines when President Rodrigo Duterte activated a Facebook horde against her. What happens online is moving, increasingly, into the real world. As we have seen in a number of mass shootings recently, the interplay between online messaging and offline actions create new realm of danger and difficulty for reporters.
Read more here: https://www.cjr.org/tow_center/battleground-information-war.php