Can Social Media Incite a War?

Social media is unlikely to incite an authoritarian regime to war, but some mechanisms could make social media either a stabilizing or a destabilizing force.

Late on September 4th in the southern Chinese city of Guilin, one of the PLAAF’s most advanced fighter jets, the Sukhoi-35, crashed after the pilot ejected. Almost as soon as footage began to emerge, speculation on social media claimed Taiwan anti-aircraft missiles had shot the jet down for intruding on airspace. The conspiracy theory was especially popular in India which is itself embroiled in escalating tensions with China. The speculation became acute enough, the RoC Ministry of National Defense issued a press release denying involvement.

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