Defence, Uncertainty and Now Media (D.U.N): Mapping Social Media in Strategic Communications

Principle Investigator

Dr Sarah Maltby

Research Institution

University of Sussex

Project Summary

All we’ve done is broaden out media operations into much wider communication activity yet at the same time we’re trying to say this is central to everything we do.

D.U.N Project Interview with Ministry of Defence

Social media is central to the planning, delivery and management of strategic and tactical defence activities. It is here that security issues are felt, that evidence for security policy is gathered and that information management is enacted. At the same time social media is a site of great risk and uncertainty. As well as being vast, rapid and changeable it is neither owned nor controllable by the defence community. The D.U.N Project is directly intervening into this environment through a three-pronged investigation into the strategic uses of social media, the perceptions and appropriations of social media by users and the content and algorithmic relations of social media online.

Key findings so far highlight a clear but blunt strategy on the unidirectional, directive and under resourced use of social media within part of the defence community, including the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces, as well as clear tensions between strategic understandings of risk, opportunity and actual online content. In relation to the analysis of online content, research found minimal evidence of reputational risk for defence, but did find significant potential risk to personal security at an individual level. The project is ongoing with the final strand relating to user perceptions and use.

Contact Information

For further information email Dr Maltby at, visit the project website or follow the project on Twitter at @DUNproject.