Nov 20, 2020 in Law

Social Media Terrorism
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How Can we Use Facebook for the Terrorist Activity

Entry 1

 

Citation: Dark, Calvin. "Social Media and Social Menacing..." Foreign Policy Association, 20 Dec. 2011. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.

Summary:

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Primarily, the article talks about the example of how terrorists used Twitter in the past. The author introduces the term Twitter terrorism and associates it with al-Qaeda. He also mentions other notable social media platforms that were used by terroristic groups, including MySpace, YouTube, and the largest one Facebook. Interestingly, some divisions of al-Qaeda conducted online training and actively commented via social networks and other media. The author mentions that Facebook enables recruitment to terrorist groups. Moreover, billionaires from some Arab states (for example, Saudi Arabia) invest large sums into Twitter. Additionally, Facebook and Twitter are easy ways to reach and influence the U.S. population or citizens of other English-speaking countries. The author provides a personal example of the social networks use during the Arab Spring.

Key Quotations:

Tools like Twitter and Facebook 1) are cheap and accessible, 2) facilitate quick, broad dissemination of messages 3) allow for unfettered communication with an audience without the filter or selectivity of mainstream news outlets.

One of the lessons learned from the Arab Spring is that social media is an amazing tool for organizing, reporting and informing.

Evaluation:

The article is quite narrow. It gives only a limited perspective on Facebook and focuses on Twitter. However, it is important to compare different social media platforms in terms of their usage by terrorists. Among the useful points, there were the definition of what makes Facebook attractive to terrorists and how Facebook was used in the revolutionary period of Arab Spring. The article demonstrates how citizens can organize and mobilize forces using social networks, so the following problem is that terrorists, having hi-tech information technologies, can use social networks easier and with even more benefits. It shows indirect ways of influencing social media platforms, for example, by receiving financing from the interested parties.

Entry 2

Citation: Committee on Homeland Security. Jihadist Use of Social Media How to Prevent Terrorism and Preserve Innovation. Statement of Chairman Meehan (R-PA) Subcommittee on Counterterrorism & Intelligence, 6 Dec. 2011. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.

Summary:

The article is the statement of Chairman Meehan (R-PA) Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. It gives the explanation of how different social media, including Facebook and YouTube, help terrorists to achieve their goals. Particularly, the article focuses on jihadists and terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollahs, and Boko Haram. The speaker draws a parallel between personal experience and the story of Colleen LaRose, a woman who spread terroristic ideas and contacted her allies over the Internet. The article showed how a social network such as Facebook may become the primary media of the terrorist communication.

Key Quotations:

For years, terrorists have communicated online, sharing al-Qaeda propaganda or writing in online forums dedicated entirely to the prospect of Islamist terrorism. However, they have recently evolved with technological changes, utilizing social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube to enhance their capabilities. In the same places the average person posts photos and communicates with friends and family, our enemies distribute videos praising Osama bin Laden.

The Internet was designed to ease communication, and it must stay that way. However, we cannot ignore the reality that we have been unable to effectively prevent jihadi videos and messages from being spread on popular social media websites like YouTube and Facebook.

Terrorists also disseminate diatribes glorifying the murder of innocents, and even make connections with each other internationally to plot attacks.

Evaluation:

The paper shows the terrorist activity in social media from the perspective of the United States. The main focus was put on al-Qaeda; therefore, it is reasonable to investigate how it uses Facebook as it is one of the most influential terroristic organizations in the world, along with the Islamic State. The paper stimulates the reader to investigate more issues, for example, the case of Awlaki (terrorism victim in Yemen) or online activity of Colleen LaRose. Therefore, "Jihadist Use of Social Media How to Prevent Terrorism and Preserve Innovation" provides many examples to study and see how Facebook or YouTube are used. Again, one of the key messages was that the Internet has a positive purpose of facilitating communication and it should be developed despite being maliciously used in some instances.

Entry 3

Citation: Ghannam, Jeffrey. "Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011." The Center for International Media Assistance, 2011. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.

Summary:

The article considers the events of the Arab spring and the use of the Internet, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in the Middle East region. The countries mentioned most often in the report are Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco. The report considers social media platforms as advancement in the freedom of expression. However, the author investigates the role of the government in the social media issue and admits that usually, authorities impose some limitations. Jeffrey Ghannam gives statistical data on 16 Arab countries, particularly how many people use the Internet. "Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011" concludes that the influence of social media on the Arab society is inevitable; it increases the opportunities to mobilize, communicate, and express thoughts freely. It is also a means to reach officials as, for example, Salam Fayyad or Bashar al-Assad have Facebook profiles and reply to e-mails. The author also mentions a popular belief that the US tries to spread its influence through social media, which is, thus, criticized as a threat to the Arab domestic order.

Key Quotations:

About 17 million people in the Arab region are using Facebook, available in Arabic, with 5 million in Egypt alone, and demand is expected to grow on micro-blogging sites.

Facebook groups in support of political leaders, as well as some online media outlets in the region that appear to be independent, have come under scrutiny as being co-opted by their own governments influence or soft sponsorship, observers say.

Even when Internet users are not breaching traditional red lines, authorities in the region call upon emergency laws, cyber crimes laws, anti-terrorism laws, ISPs terms and conditions, and press and publications laws that provide justification for the arrest, fines, and incarceration of individuals for certain online writing or related activities. Laws regulating the Internet are also being passed.

Evaluation:

The articles primary focus is not directly related to terrorism. Nevertheless, it shows the extent, to which the Internet has penetrated into the Arab region and what its role and importance in the society is. On their territories of most of the mentioned countries, branches and divisions of terrorist organizations operate. Moreover, the article makes readers think that if authorities can influence social media to a considerable extent, other individuals (terrorists) can potentially do the same. "Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011" shows how things posted on the Internet and particularly on Facebook affect peoples minds and have power in the example of the Arab Spring protests. Interestingly, the article sees Facebook as a positive tool. It allows analyzing the terrorist activities on Facebook from another point of view that highlights the benefits of that social media platform for the society.

Entry 4

Citation: Weimann, Gabriel. Terrorism in Cyberspace: The Next Generation. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 21 Apr. 2012. Print.

Summary:

Terrorism in cyberspace focuses on modern cyberterrorist trends, e-marketing of terrorists, how terrorist groups have penetrated into cyberspace, how to defeat them, authors M.U.D. model, and other issues. Every point is exemplified by clear examples and statistical data. Weimann describes how the structure of terrorist organizations shapes its preference of the social networking. The author defines the term of cyber terrorism and shows its effect on the states infrastructure. In his book, Weimann advises governments on how to conduct counter-terrorism activity. As for social networks, Facebook is described as the best way of spreading any terrorist content as its users are a very vulnerable group of society.

Key Quotations:

This [Facebook] is a great idea, and better than the forums. Instead of waiting for people [to come to you so you can] inform them, you go to them and teach them!

Generally two types of Facebook profiles with terrorist content can be identified: official and unofficial profiles. Official pages are often introduced with a statement issued by the respective group in the usual forums and media. An example is Al-Thabaat page...described itself as Jihadi page for the group, Ansar al-Islam...Unofficial profiles, by contrast, are mostly maintained by sympathizers who disseminate propaganda or instruction material.

...a primary role of Facebook is to link occasional viewers of jihadist contents to the more hardcore closed groups.

Evaluation:

Cyberspace is another environment, in which people take actions, interact, and influence the global community. The book is very useful for describing the relation of Facebook to terrorist actions. However, the government tried to control al-Qaeda, al-Shabab, and ISIS-related terrorist groups through the means of web communication, but it gets more difficult with ciphers and protected messaging platforms. Counterterrorism agencies should focus on Facebook as it gives too many opportunities for terrorists. The book gives deep insight into how propaganda and any instructions are spread on Facebook, as well as how terrorists recruit and mobilize people. Moreover, terrorists chat and call via this social network. The keys of Facebook attractiveness for terrorists are the vast audience, low regulation, anonymity, easy use, and fast information exchange. It is very important that the author describes how to combat the terrorist activity on Facebook. The ways and tools are different; for example, constant monitoring, learning strategies used by terrorists, and using cyber-weapons such as web attacks and viruses against some users. This source is strong in every aspect.

Entry 5

Citation: Perlroth, Nicole, and Mike Isaac. "Terrorists Mock Bids to End Use of Social Media." The New York Times, 7 Dec. 2015. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.

Summary:

The article is written in a form of responses given by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to accusations of low activity towards eliminating the terrorist-related content from their platforms. The "Terrorists Mock Bids to End Use of Social Media" gives an example of how pro-Islamic group posted tweets before conducting the terrorist attack. In addition, the authors investigate why it is so difficult to protect social media from the terrorists penetration. On Twitter, they create new accounts if old ones are blocked. This process is infinite as showed by 335 accounts of one pro-Islamic State group. On Facebook, it is too difficult to control all posts; in addition, this social network values and advocates privacy. Moreover, wealthy terrorist organizations can afford to get the newest technologies to use in the social media. The thoughts of Hany Farid (Dartmouth College) or Rita Katz (SITE Intelligence Group) reveal their disbelief. There are many doubts whether Twitter or Facebook are motivated enough to prevent the terrorist content from the further spread.

Key Quotations:

We work aggressively to ensure that we do not have terrorists or terror groups using the site, and we also remove any content that praises or supports terrorism, said Monika Bickert, head of global product policy at Facebook.

 
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Still, while the tech industry cannot block all terror content on the web, people who have battled other online threats say it could be doing more. They point to technology that has successfully eradicated large swaths of child pornography on the web, or even older tools for spotting computer viruses, as potential guideposts for blocking terror-related content.

Facebook primarily relies on user reports to ferret out terrorist accounts, but recently it has gone further. If the company is informed of specific terrorist activity, Facebook will take down the account as well as others similar to the one reported.

Pulling all terror-related content is not always preferred by law enforcement. In several cases, tech executives say, they have been asked to keep terror-related content online so that law enforcement agents can monitor terrorist networks or because the content was created by law enforcement agents to lure terrorists into divulging information.

Evaluation:

The articles value is in its being a dialogue between the executives of the main social media platforms (including Facebook) and scientists or officials. The "Terrorists Mock Bids to End Use of Social Media" is answering the questions whether Facebook or Twitter do everything possible to remove the content posted by terrorists. It is also important to know why some posts are not removed deliberately or what the problem with encryption and with civil liberties is. The explanation of the mechanisms of social media actions towards terrorists given by authors is valuable. According to them, Twitter has appropriate information technology means, and Facebook is mostly blocking the reported content or profiles.

Entry 6

Citation: Andrews, Natalie, and Deepa Seetharaman. "Facebook Steps up Efforts against Terrorism." The Wall Street Journal, 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.

Summary:

The article focuses on Facebook, its accessibility, policy, and some subsequent issues. The first example concerning Facebook dealing with terrorists is how it removed Tashfeen Maliks profile after the news report. It means that Facebook blocks people, whose names appear in events related to terrorism. It was a demand of the government insisting on the more severe measures and control. Therefore, today, Facebook is responding faster to suspicious posts/comments/messages than it used to do several years ago. Andrews and Seetharaman note that social media companies bear responsibility for the environments they created, as they are not just a tool for exchanging thoughts anymore. Facebook has difficult times monitoring all of its 1.6 billion users, but the companys executives have prioritized the network safety. At the same time, the article asserts that government officials are not allowed to have direct access to servers. Again, Facebook shows it policy of relying on users that are supposed to report on any inappropriate content. Monika Bickert, the head of global policy management of Facebook, is commenting throughout the article by referring to the anti-terrorism policy of Facebook. Moreover, the government expresses concern and proposes to add terrorism to the law enforcement responsibility just as they urged Facebook to report concerning child pornography in 2008.

Key Quotations:

...Facebook, under pressure from government officials, is more aggressively policing material it views as supporting terrorism. The worlds largest social network is quicker to remove users who back terror groups and investigates posts by their friends. It has assembled a team focused on terrorist content and is helping promote counter speech, or posts that aim to discredit militant groups like Islamic State.

Facebook relies on users to report posts that violate its standards, such as images that celebrate or glorify violence. After an attack, it scours news reports or asks police agencies and activists for names so it can remove suspects profiles and memorialize victims accounts.

The company [Facebook] is also helping activists who try to discredit organizations like Islamic State with counter-propaganda. That includes lessons on how to create material more likely to be shared and go viral. ... Facebook also offers ad credits worth hundreds of dollars to groups to defray the cost of testing their campaigns.

Evaluation:

The importance of "Facebook Steps up Efforts against Terrorism" is in its narrow perspective on the topic. The whole article is devoted exclusively to Facebook; it offers comments from different people, for example, the head of global policy management, professor of law, or the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The article elucidates the evolution of Facebook and overall progress it has made towards combating terrorism so far. The paper does not pay much attention to social factors; instead, it mentions legal issues and the attitude of governments to the social media terrorism. It may be a weak point that Facebook does not consider social consciousness while making efforts to solving the problem. However, the legal enforcement and strict measures may be more effective

Entry 7

Citation: Seetharaman, Deepa, and Natalie Andrews. "Facebook Adds New Tool to Fight Terror: Counter Speech." Tech News & Analysis from the WSJ, 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.

Summary:

The article tells about the results of the content team Facebook meeting. The goal was to find the methods of eliminating the hate speech and violent posts from Facebook (1). The article involves a new term of a counter speech and briefly explains its meaning in the example of the counter speakers actions that seek... to discredit extremist views with posts, images and videos of their own (1). One of the results of the meeting was to make a digital (like) attack on the extremist Facebook groups. "Facebook Adds New Tool to Fight Terror: Counter Speech" reveals the new way of terrorist actions that is creating fake Facebook profiles and sending messages from them. One more idea to resist terrorists posts was to encourage students to write counter extremism posts and even create a competition. However, the authors note that, even though, there is no evidence, they support the counter speech effectiveness. Anyway, it remains the easiest way, accessible to people all over the world that can help Facebook stop the terrorist activity. The article gives statistics: populist right-wing pages included 25,522 posts and counter speech pages had only 2,364 people participating (based on examination of 8.4 million likes, comments, and shares, 27,886 posts, 150 Facebook pages from four European countries) (1).

Key Quotations:

Google and Facebook have latched onto this notion as a means of responding to objectionable or harmful content and now they are beginning to do things to try to encourage it.

Facebook is working to encourage more counter speech across the social network and activists say they need the help.

The violent extremists have put a lot of money behind their propaganda and their voices in different ways... The counter speech movement really does need a little help at this point.

Evaluation:

The article employs an interesting approach to finding and eliminating the content of terrorists. It would be appropriate to call that approach the soft power or the Internet diplomacy, as soon as peaceful means are used. "Facebook Adds New Tool to Fight Terror: Counter Speech" presents a new method of counter speech that is aimed at mitigating the harmful effects of posts by terrorists and their supporters. The weak points of this essay are overt narrowness and description of only one tool. Moreover, there is no statistical evidence of the counter speech success. The good point is describing the ways of influencing terrorist groups by contacting them from fake accounts.

Entry 8

Citation: Bouchard, Martin. Social Networks, Terrorism and Counter-terrorism: Radical and Connected. New York: Routledge, 2015. Print.

Summary:

The book Social Networks, Terrorism and Counter-terrorism: Radical and Connected explains many aspects of terrorism. It describes in details the history and emergence of terrorism, the gray cygnet issue, radicalization, jihadi groups, and how the Internet has started playing a crucial role in terrorism activities. There are two main focuses of the book. The first focus of Social Networks, Terrorism and Counter-terrorism: Radical and Connected is the human factor, namely social interrelations. Social interrelations define how people cooperate in terrorist groups and in the groups of people fighting against terrorism. The second point is the Internet itself; how it is used for propaganda and recruitment. Martin Bouchard shows how terrorists have acquired the freedom over the Internet and earned access to almost anyone they want while particularly targeting the youth. The author pays particular attention to Web 2.0 technologies; it means the terrorist use not only social networks but also chatrooms, interactive games, blogs, and forums. Interestingly, Facebook contains all of these issues having groups for discussion, instant messaging, and various games.

Key Quotations:

For those individuals surfing the net in hopes of connecting, of finding community, the interactivity of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is much more likely to act as a pull into the orbit of violent radicalism. It is the interactivity that promotes a sense of belonging, that make individuals feel that they are contributing to the cause, even if they are not operational. (109)

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Evaluation:

The book is important because it gives an insight into terrorism itself. Before discovering how one particular network such as Facebook is used for the terrorist activity, it is important to answer questions about how terrorism emerged, what the purpose of terrorism is and why it is a global threat. The book does not focus much on the modern social media as it is mostly theoretical. However, it shows the relationship and connections between the elements of every social network and its potential use by terrorists.

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