Mass Media 2.0 and International Relations

Thursday, March 7, 2019
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305
  • Sarah Kreps

Speaker Bio: Sarah Kreps is an Associate Professor of Government and Adjunct Professor of Law at Cornell University. In 2017-2018, she is an Adjunct Scholar at the Modern War Institute (West Point). She is also a Faculty Fellow in the Milstein Program in Technology and Humanity at the Cornell Tech Campus in New York City.

Dr. Kreps is the author of four books, including, most recently, Taxing Wars: The American Way of War Finance and the Decline of Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2018), which deals with the causes and consequences of how advanced industrialized democracies such as the US, UK, and France pay for its wars.  She has also written two books on drones, including Drones: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Drone Warfare (Polity Press, 2014; with John Kaag).  Her first book was called Coalitions of Convenience: United States Military Interventions after the Cold War (Oxford University Press, 2011) and analyzed military interventions carried out over the last decade.

Beyond these books, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the American Political Science Review, World Politics, Journal of Politics, International Security, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Security Studies, Journal of Strategic Studies, Political Science Quarterly, International Studies Perspectives, Foreign Policy Analysis, Polity, African Security Review, the Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law, the International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, Intelligence and National Security, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and Polity. Her opinions have been featured in a series of media outlets including The Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, CNBC,and Reuters.

Dr. Kreps has held fellowships at the Council on Foreign Relations (and is a life member), Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs. She has a BA from Harvard, MSc from Oxford, and PhD from Georgetown. Between 1999-2003, she served on active duty in the United States Air Force.

Abtstract: Although the 2016 election highlighted the potential for foreign governments to employ social media for strategic advantages, the particular mechanisms through which social media affect international politics remain underdeveloped.  Building on insights from American politics, in particular the “democratic dilemma,” I observe that many issues of foreign policy are complex and the public is insufficiently informed to offer well-reasoned opinions. To resolve the knowledge deficits and ambivalence, they seek information from their media environment, which is where social media—as platforms that are open access and amplify content that is extreme either in their positive or negative valence—can cue individuals and tilt the balance of support.  In this context, the open media environment of a democracy is a particularly susceptible environment for foreign influence whereas the comparatively closed media environment of a non-democracy provides efficient ways for these governments to censor, cut, or counter social media in ways that promote regime survival.  The research has important implications for the role of media, technology, and persuasion in international politics.