Terrorism using social media has become one of the world's most pressing concerns. There is a symbiotic relationship between domestic terrorist groups and international terrorist organisations, which is aggravating the issue. Terrorist groups are using social media platforms to recruit, train, and communicate with their supporters and contributors since it is a less expensive, easier, faster, and effective mode of communication.
Terrorists use social media tools to propagate their ideologies, propaganda, and activities not only in South Asia but around the world. The emergence of social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) has given terrorist organisations new options while also posing new obstacles for law enforcement and intelligence agencies. While terrorist organisations' use of online resources is nothing new, what is new is national intelligence services' adjustment to a larger focus on the growing threat of "home-grown" terrorism.
It's crucial to understand what the word "social media" means before looking into the relationship between social media and terrorism. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and other social media sites are examples of Internet or cyber-based apps that allow users to create user-generated content. Blogs, on the other hand, are the first form of social media. The use of social media platforms to radicalise and recruit violent and non-violent extremists is known as terrorism and social media. Terrorism is not a new phenomenon, but the contemporary era of terrorism began at the turn of the twentieth century, and since then, terrorist organisations have spread their operations around the world and beyond national lines. Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have become the most prominent countries for homegrown terrorist organisations, as well as the bases of operations for those terrorist organisations. And, following Al-bloodiest Qaeda's attack on 9/11, world leaders have realised the terrorist menace in the world. Furthermore, the world learned that members of terrorist organisations use cutting-edge technology and cutting-edge techniques in their missions and operations.
The introduction of Web 2.0 applications—websites that are solely based on interactive user-generated content, or social media, as opposed to more traditional static websites that only allow users to view content. These social media sites effectively build online communities by allowing users to create, collaborate on, view, and share content. For example, Wikipedia is a free online encyclopaedia that only contains articles created, edited, and reviewed by its users. With the emergence of websites such as Facebook, which allowed people to 'connect' online with their friends and family and encouraged the creation of online communities based on common interests, political ideologies, or geographical locations, the general public's adoption of social media websites increased rapidly. Social media quickly established itself as a low-cost and effective tool for mass communication, as well as an efficient means of specifically targeting key demographics.
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are three of the most popular social networking networks (Alexa, 2011b). While various programmes use different technology, one essential similarity is that anyone with a legitimate email address who claims to be over the age of 13 can register as a user on the site, providing users with a level of anonymity if they so desire. Furthermore, the most popular social media sites have recently experienced a surge in integration, meaning that content submitted on one social media site will display on all other connected sites at the same time. The 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks took place on November 26th, with an Islamic terrorist organisation from Pakistan targeting more than ten locations across Mumbai: One of the most critical difficulties that came from the attacks was the technological competence of the assailants, according to Lashkar-e-Taiba. All of the attackers had BlackBerry smartphones and didn't just use VOIP to communicate.
Terrorist organisations are becoming more technologically sophisticated, as seen by incidents like Mumbai. To effectively battle these groups, government authorities must create and implement solid social media counter-strategies as soon as possible. The internet has superseded all other kinds of media as the major arena for terrorist media activity and the primary platform for jihadist propaganda. Furthermore, the three most popular social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) have added value to terrorism's ability to communicate, organise, recruit, and train would-be terrorists, demonstrating that it is not just political activists who see the competitive advantage of using social media. The slew of difficulties is especially relevant in Muslim-majority nations like Pakistan, where fertile minds are available for radicalization via social media at no cost. Furthermore, countries like Australia have their own concerns about social media, where a much more ubiquitous and harder to detect 'home-grown' or 'grass-roots' terrorism danger rooted in virtual realities is replacing the conventional transnational terrorism threat.
With the rise in terrorist actions, social media plays an increasingly important role in distributing terrorist messages. Terrorist groups, particularly ISIS and Al-Qaeda, communicate with their followers and donors, recruit new members from around the world, and provide training materials by using and tempering various social media platforms, as this is the fastest, easiest, cheapest, and most effective communication method in the development of technology. The use of social media by terrorists is on the rise, posing a threat to global peace and security, and South Asian countries are no exception. To manage terrorism on social media platforms, an international regulatory system is required. It will be impossible to win the battle against social media terrorism without growing public awareness. The introduction of special legislation with great care and efficiency, as well as the proper implementation of such legislation, can significantly aid in the prevention and control of terrorist incidents, as security units can receive advance notice of terrorist groups' movements and activities both domestically and internationally.
1. www.ojp.gov: https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/role-social-media-evolution-al-qaeda-inspired-terrorism
2. Use of social media By US Extremists: https://www.start.umd.edu/pubs/START_PIRUS_UseOfSocialMediaByUSExtremists_ResearchBrief_July2018.pdf
3. Jihadist Use of social media: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg74647/html/CHRG-112hhrg74647.htm
4 www.cambridge.org: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-journal-of-law-in-context/article/regulating-terrorist-content-on-social-media-automation-and-the-rule-of-law/B54E339425753A66FECD1F592B9783A1
5. Deconstructing the terrorism discourse on social media | Research and Innovation: https://ec.europa.eu/research-and-innovation/en/projects/success-stories/all/deconstructing-terrorism-discourse-social-media
6. UNICRI :: United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute: http://unicri.it/Publications/Malicious-use-cocialmedia-terrorists-extremists-criminals
(The views expressed do not necessarily represent views of Habilian.)