The age of the internet has without a doubt not only dramatically widened the scope of data we can access, but also expanded the amount of information that is created.
Just to put things in perspective, thanks to the internet, every two days we now create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.
The proliferation of social media has taken matters even further by delivering information that’s relevant to us directly to our phones and computers, instead of us having to search for it, and in that respect has helped keep us apprised of developments that matter to us.
It comes as no surprise that these tools are often misused, with countless individuals and entities across the globe feeding disinformation to unsuspecting audiences in order to influence their opinions, positions and decisions on matters that range from consumer goods to political views.
Unfortunately, in a country like Lebanon, where sectarian tensions are always simmering beneath the surface, when certain parties form “online militias” who use social media as a weapon to fire volleys of digital garbage at their rivals, the results can only further inflame the situation and ultimately prove deadly to the county as a whole.
Such online smear campaigns are frequently used to target leaders who can’t be broken in political debate, with perpetrators resorting to their internet minions to hurl venom and filth, derived from sick minds who are masters of the gutter language, at their opponents.
Certainly, such online attacks also occur in other countries, but with the sectarian element that is part and parcel of life in Lebanon, the only possible outcome of the hostile campaigns carried out by these digital hordes in this country is to feed extremism as well as cause devastation, anguish and a return to the dark ages.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 29, 2018, on page 1.