Tuesday, November 10, 2015

ISIS and Social Media

ISIS has grown into a top national security priority over the course of President Obama’s second term.  The Internet and social media have been one of the most important tools in the growth of their organization. This has distinguished them from past terrorist organizations, which have been more selective about their means of communication. If 
“al Qaeda was publicity-shy... ISIS, in contrast, is a publicity whore.” This new dynamic has added a dimension to the threat terrorist organizations pose because they utilize more direct means in communicating their message.

This has allowed for expansion of ISIS and changed aspects of counterterrorism efforts. This has been shown with Twitter in particular. ISIS has used Twitter to create thousands of accounts for the spreading of propaganda and recruitment. Twitter has monitored accounts and suspended approximately 10,000 ISIS linked accounts in a single day. The US government doesn’t directly suspend or delete accounts but Twitter is active in banning accounts that promote violence. There is a potential problem with the US government intervening on these issues because of Constitutional violations of freedom of speech. Nonetheless, it is clear the use of Twitter and other social media outlets has changed the threat dynamic of terrorist organizations for the future.

When addressing this new factor in counterterrorism the US government will have to find new and creative ways to adapt. Thus far, ISIS has had a high level of success with social media and this has caused complications for counterterrorism. There has been a mass gain of supporters worldwide due to ISIS’s online campaign; which has promoted citizens from the United States and Europe to flood to Syria to join ISIS. Even though it may be the moral obligation for companies such as Twitter to suspend and control the accounts responsible for propaganda and recruitment, counterterrorism elements will need to adjust for this threat. Managing and getting ahead of these tactics will be a top national security priority over the coming years.

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