There are approximately 3.7 billion internet users in the world, and the average time spent viewing online content continues to increase year after year. The weaponization of internet components including content continues to evolve, and the ability to influence a specifically targeted audience has been fine-tuned.

The influence is not limited to major media sources. The engagement of individual users and their generated content was truly enabled by social media platforms. About 70 percent of U.S. adults are active on at least one social media platform and 62 percent get their news off of social media. This has spurred a fair amount of research into user-generated content on the internet and its implications surrounding gratifications, civic engagement, psychological empowerment and influence. Preliminary insights indicate that user-generated content influences the views, opinions and attitudes of online content consumers, or users.

The level of involvement of multiple actors will undoubtedly increase given the media coverage of recent social media-based influential content. Many professionals are pointing to Russia as a prime example of the weaponization of words after congressional testimony about cyberattacks, data theft, and the disclosure and use of social media in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In addition, a number of professionals believe user video production will increase substantially in the next few years. All of this combines to increase the substantial and growing influence that connected interactions and content will have in the not so distant future. Online influence capabilities have rapidly evolved and expanded to the point where they are included in special operations capabilities.

The connected world in which we live has transformed words and conversations into weapons. This requires new and unique military and intelligence capabilities if this growing threat is to be addressed. With all that in mind, one has to wonder: What is "covfefe"?

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