The network effects of communication in functioning of mass consciousness in the period of information warfare

Keywords: social communication, internet, mass media, networks, mass consciousness, public sphere, information warfare

Abstract

The article considers the specifics of network effects of communication in functioning of mass consciousness in the period of information warfare. Conclusions are based on data of research project «Mass consciousness in the zone of military conflict in the Donbas» (State registration number 0116U004150). We found that the Internet, and in particular social media, as well as offline communication networks (friends, relatives, acquaintances and colleagues) make a serious competition and sometimes outpace traditional media as a source of information in those parts of the Luhanska oblast, which is controlled by Ukraine. The indicated facts is part of a wider picture: 1) Internet makes development and spreading of the horizontal communication networks possible, which partially autonomize public sphere from state control and traditional media; 2) in the conditions of a military conflict the circle of trust to sources of information becomes narrow, sometimes up to the nearest family and friendly circle. It is found out that spreading of the internet changed the traditional model of the national public sphere functioning, because of the demassification of media consumption and spreading of users’ content production made more complex unilaterally directed formation of a national agenda. Some nodes of social networks as communication structures have a much greater influence than other – these are so-called opinion leaders and influential mass media pages. Political technologies responded to an increase in autonomy of mass consciousness and public sphere in internet by new methods of influence: from the army of paid trolls, bots, loyal bloggers to the technologies of micro-targeting in social networks. The specifics of the social networks structure, which affects the viral spread of information, are analyzed in this article (the most influential nods, information «bridges», clusters, homogeneity of the network, emotional impact of nodes on the environment etc). Besides it, a number of specific techniques of manipulation of mass consciousness, which were applied by Russia in social networks, are also demonstrated. For example, creating accounts and group pages in social networks, which look like pro-Ukrainian, but in fact are working to destabilize the situation in the country, to delegitimize the military-political authority, inflame conflicts in society.

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Published
2018-09-17
How to Cite
Petrenko, O. S. (2018). The network effects of communication in functioning of mass consciousness in the period of information warfare. Scientific and Theoretical Almanac Grani, 21(8), 30-39. https://doi.org/10.15421/1718100
Section
Article