Social Media and Information War in the Middle East


On November 16, the Center held a lunch discussion on social media and information war in the Middle East. The panelists were Dr. Niki Akhavan, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Media Studies at the Catholic University of America; and Dr. Khalid Al-Jaber, Director of the MENA Institute in Washington and a visiting Assistant Professor at Qatar University and Northwestern University in Doha. The center’s Director of Middle East Studies Dr. Gil Barndollar moderated the discussion.

Social media technologies have radically changed both information warfare between states and government narrative control within states. Nowhere is this more apparent today than in the Middle East. Though the Arab Spring’s “Twitter Revolutions” have ebbed, social media influence and propaganda have become key tools of state policy in the region. Whether in the hands of Iran, the Gulf monarchies, or others, accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and a host of other networks are supporting and supplanting governments in the Middle East. The ongoing proxy wars in Syria and Yemen and the continuing split within the Gulf Cooperation Council are the most recent arenas for this important new competition. To read a summary of this event in The National Interest click here