Managing Volatility with the Expanded Access to Information in Fragile States

Author: 
Author data: 
Joseph Siegle
Publication Date: 
March 2013
Description: 
in Diplomacy, Development, and Security in the Information Age, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy
Document Type: 
Articles and Op-Eds

Growing access to information and communications technology (ICT) in fragile and transitioning states is amplifying tensions between volatility and transparency. On the one hand, expanding social media enables rumors, misinformation, and inflammatory communications to reach a wider audience more quickly than ever before, at times precipitating panic and violence. Likewise, leaders of militant groups are using social media to play up grievances and divisions in order to mobilize support for their armed movements. At the same time, expanded access to information is contributing to stability through the enhanced legitimacy of political systems, greater transparency, and improved government responsiveness to societal priorities, among other channels. Contemporary security in fragile states is thus increasingly linked to competing narratives vying for the trust and support of local communities. ICT provides governments new tools to reach out to these populations. This must be complemented by measures to protect space for journalists and community organizations to gather, analyze, and disseminate independent information, thereby fostering responsiveness and accountability within a society.