Social media, gender and the mediatization of war: exploring the German armed forces’ visual representation of the Afghanistan operation on Facebook

David Shim, Frank A. Stengel
  • Global Discourse, July 2017, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/23269995.2017.1337982

Social Media and War

What is it about?

The article analyzes how the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) portray the ISAF operation on their Facebook page. The article looks specifically at photographs and how a particular impression of ISAF is produced. Put simply, watching the Bundeswehr's photographs on Facebook one gets the impression that ISAF is largely under control.

Why is it important?

Whether military operations are seen as legitimate by the public depends on how they are portrayed in the media. After all, most people have no direct access to first-hand knowledge about armed conflicts. Social media allows states and their agencies to shape public perception of what governments do by providing information themselves. Photographs are particularly important here because we usually take them as showing reality as it really is. But by showing only some aspects, media producers can significantly influence what impression of reality the viewer gets. In the case of military operations such as ISAF, this can make difficult and unsuccessful missions seem under control. This in turn increases their chance of acceptance and minimizes criticism, ultimately prolonging costly and potentially morally problematic policies.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Frank A Stengel