In October 2018, former state actors and current global industry leaders discussed the risks of social media interacting with the early warning systems of nuclear armed states and how the potential changes in the propensity of leaders could potentially lead to war.
The discussion included officials who have experienced "false positives" in multiple continents. The discussion addressed cases where social media information cascades led to potential or actual catastrophic outcomes (infectious diseases, terrorist recruitment, mass killings). This discussion was hosted by Technology for Global Security in a Social Media Storms and Nuclear Early Warning Systems Workshop held at the Hewlett Foundation campus. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Nautilus Institute, the Preventive Defense Project - Stanford University, and was funded by the MacArther Foundation.
NUCLEAR PODCAST Hosted by Philip Reiner, Former Senior Director for South Asia as President Obama's National Security Council
This workshop was convened because social media burst onto the stage of nuclear warfare in 2018. In the Asia-Pacific region alone, six instances of social media playing a role in nuclear-prone conflicts occurred between August 2017 and January 2018. For decades, strategists have worried about the possibility that states armed with nuclear weapons might mistakenly launch a nuclear strike due to a false alarm originating in its early warning system or due to degraded decision-making.
To investigate how social media might play out in the world of nuclear early warning the workshop considered the use of social media to promote extremist views and behavior in promoting anti-vaccination, anti-Semitism, gang, ethnic, and terrorist violence in cities.