A look inside the weaponization of social media, and an innovative proposal for protecting Western democracies from information warfare.
When Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram were first introduced to the public, their mission was simple: they were designed to help people become more connected to each other. Social media became a thriving digital space by giving its users the freedom to share whatever they wanted with their friends and followers. Unfortunately, these same digital tools are also easy to manipulate. As exemplified by Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, authoritarian states can exploit social media to interfere with democratic governance in open societies.
Tyrants on Twitter is the first detailed analysis of how Chinese and Russian agents weaponize Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to subvert the liberal international order. In addition to examining the 2016 U.S. election, David L. Sloss explores Russia's use of foreign influence operations to threaten democracies in Europe, as well as China's use of social media and other digital tools to meddle in Western democracies and buttress autocratic rulers around the world.
Sloss calls for cooperation among democratic governments to create a new transnational system for regulating social media to protect Western democracies from information warfare. Drawing on his professional experience as an arms control negotiator, he outlines a novel system of transnational governance that Western democracies can enforce by harmonizing their domestic regulations. And drawing on his academic expertise in constitutional law, he explains why that system--if implemented by legislation in the United States--would be constitutionally defensible, despite likely First Amendment objections. With its critical examination of information warfare and its proposal for practical legislative solutions to fight back, this book is essential reading in a time when disinformation campaigns threaten to undermine democracy.
About the Author
David L. Sloss is the John A. and Elizabeth H. Sutro Professor of Law at Santa Clara University. He is the author of The Death of Treaty Supremacy: An Invisible Constitutional Change (2016). Before entering academia, he worked for the U.S. government on drafting and negotiating arms control treaties.