Social Media Sites Don’t Need Government to Shut Down Terrorists
The Editorial Board – The Washington Post
But when it comes to cracking down on social media, governments must tread carefully.
For one thing, groups such as the Islamic State continually produce content, and the system can block only material it knows to look for. Videos, too, are harder to weed out than still images. More importantly, there are legitimate reasons someone might share material that contains an image of, say, an Islamic State attack: It’s news.
Sometimes there is a clear line between content that serves to recruit, retain and train would-be terrorists and material that is part of a debate about current events that are brutal but can’t be ignored. Sometimes finding the line requires more judgment than an algorithm can exercise. Sometimes an uncomfortable balance must lean on the side of free speech.
To Fight Terrorists’ Use of Technology, U.S. Must Be Specific
The Editorial Board – San Francisco Chronicle
‘There’s no clear definition in law of what unlawful terrorist propaganda is,’ said Emma Llanso, director of the Free Expression Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology…
Former National Security Agency head Michael Hayden has spoken publicly about the agency’s challenges in understanding the massive amounts of information that it has to sift through; experts have noted that U.S. law enforcement agencies are already having trouble keeping up with what they have. It’s another reason why lawmakers need to be more, not less, specific about what they’re asking tech companies to do.
Finally, there’s the constitutional rights issue. All Americans should be genuinely concerned every time the federal government mandates cooperation from private companies about access to their personal information.
ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa
Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes – George Washington University Program on Extremism
As of the fall of 2015, U.S. authorities speak of some 250 Americans who have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria/Iraq to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and 900 active investigations against ISIS sympathizers in all 50 states. Seventy-one individuals have been charged with ISIS-related activities since March 2014. Fifty-six have been arrested in 2015 alone, a record number of terrorism-related arrests for any year since 9/11….
Social media plays a crucial role in the radicalization and, at times, mobilization of U.S.-based ISIS sympathizers…. American ISIS sympathizers are particularly active on Twitter, where they spasmodically create accounts that often get suspended in a never-ending cat-and-mouse game.
U.S. Behind the Curve on Radicalization
The Editors – Orange County Register
The mass murder in San Bernardino was predictably sensational, as evidenced by the fact that #SanBernadino was shared on Twitter more than 333,000 times Wednesday – notwithstanding that the city’s name was misspelled….
That suggests to us that our national security apparatus needs to start recruiting digital natives and train them to use their social media skills to ferret out potential lone wolves, like 28-year-old Farook and 27-year-old Malik may turn out to have been.
That would by no means guarantee that another Inland Regional Center won’t occur. But we believe it would at least decrease the likelihood of further horror.
Watch President Obama’s update on efforts to defeat ISIS:
Terror on Twitter
P.W. Singer and Emerson Brooking – Popular Science
The United States has launched a constellation of social-media accounts to battle ISIS misinformation, while spies map ISIS networks through what they reveal of themselves online (one U.S. air strike was even guided in by an oversharing jihadist).
Outside government, social-media companies have increasingly revised their own systems and terms of service in an effort to mop up terrorist accounts before they spread, as with Twitter’s recent ban of all “indirect threats of violence.”
Hacker and independent activists are also playing an increasing role. Many associated with the hacking collective Anonymous, have taken to patrolling the darker places of the Internet, waging their own private fight to take down ISIS content wherever it is found….
What ISIS has discovered—this very weird, effective new way of war—is not a novelty or a one-time thing. ISIS may have been the first to wield this cross of social media, terror, and war, but it will not be the last.