Accessible, transparent, progressive: public secrecy, harms, and the presence of legal arms manufacturers on Twitter

Jester, Natalie (2021) Accessible, transparent, progressive: public secrecy, harms, and the presence of legal arms manufacturers on Twitter. In: British International Studies Association annual conference, 21-23 June 2021, Online. (Submitted)

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This article examines Twitter feeds of three large US arms manufacturers, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, and is part of a wider project in which approximately 900 tweets were examined. These companies have recently been under increased scrutiny because arms sales to Saudi Arabia (especially) have been linked to civilian deaths in Yemen. This article argues that the fatal violence resulting from legal arms sales is a public secret (that which is known but unsaid) within this social media space. It is unsurprising that these companies do not Tweet about suffering: arguing that this is an exercise of power, this article seeks to trace the wider practices that make it possible for this to remain more widely unsaid, unchallenged and, therefore not illegal. It finds that they represent themselves as accessible and transparent through regular updates and high volumes of information. Further, these accounts invisibilise aforementioned violence by presenting these companies as drivers of human progress on several fronts (social equality, environmental advances and space development). These representations of transparency and openness contribute to a global ecosystem in which arms-selling activity is considered to be legal and broadly acceptable when performed by particular large-scale manufacturers.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Depositing User: Nat Jester
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2021 08:52
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2023 12:51

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