William North Carolina

The Symbiosis of Terrorism and Social Media

Without even knowing it, many social media sites and articles are helping terrorists. Here's how to stop it.

Dear Future President,

Ever since September 11th, 2002 terrorism has been a major threat to the United States. Terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS have been inspiring extremists to attack our country. The biggest way these terrorist groups gain attention is through the media. Newspapers, news channels, and online articles give these organizations exactly what they want, attention. This problem of giving terrorists the publicity that they need to survive has an easy solution. Instead of showing the terrorists, the injured people, and the destruction caused, show the heroes, the Americans helping each other, and the speeches by famous figures, saying that what has happened that day will not drive America apart but, pull us closer together.

Terrorists can use social media to gain money and supplies. Recently The Nafir al-Aqsa Campaign used Twitter and YouTube as a way to obtain funds to equip soldiers with better guns, protective suits, and military gear. These groups use the anonymous features of social media to trick younger users into thinking they are donating to a charity, but in reality, they are funding terrorist groups. These accounts are often shut down within a few days, but by the time they are thousands of dollars have already been transferred. These pages also use religion to convince people to donate and help the terrorists’ cause. An example of this was a poster that said, “Choose, my brother, how many shares in the Way of God you want.” This poster was put onto Twitter and convinced many people to donate to get a better spot with God according to investigativeproject.org.

Another way that terrorists use social media is as a way to spread their ideas. Without the forms of media regularly reporting on these terrorist issues, it would be tough for their thoughts to spread around the world and influence others. When an attack occurs, media outlets scramble to be the first to report it. With the competition between these media organizations, being first means bringing in more money. This rush to be first causes thousands of articles, videos, reports, and pictures to be posted within hours of the attack. Through this, all of America gets swamped in terrorist-related media, which ultimately helps the terrorists spread their cause.

Through social media and the internet, terrorists can gain recruits who want to help their cause. According to wikipedia.com, terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Al-Shabab, and even ISIS frequently tweet and react with followers on Twitter. They release videos explaining the reasons behind attacks, and even videos of killings and tortures. All these posts are created in certain ways to make their followers want to join and support the terrorist cause. They target young people with open minds as well as people unhappy with America. According to breitbart.com, “Twitter has told us that in the last six months, it has suspended 235,000 terrorist-supporting accounts.” Around 90,000 of those have been ISIS-linked.

Banning terrorists and censoring some parts of terrorism could solve this problem of social media getting exploited by extremists. The downside of this solution is that many people point to the second amendment. It says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The part to point out is the freedom of the press. Completely censoring terrorism would be a violation of the law. You can also say that banning terrorist social media accounts could result in accounts becoming banned without reason. Those bans could cause lots of hate for the social media supporter.

There is an alternative though to censoring and banning terrorism. Instead of censoring all of the terrorism, according to hg.org, censoring parts of terrorism that have too much graphic violence is allowed by law. A court must first analyze what should be blocked to do this, and then agree it infringes on America’s safety and is considered inappropriate on a national scale. This change would allow terrorist stories to be put onto the internet and not cause as much fear and as much impact as it currently does. The change also allows terrorists on social media and their accounts to get suspended as they say things that can infringe on the nation's safety. This banning of pages has had success on Twitter, so if implemented on to all social media, it could cleanse them of terrorist influence.

Now it is up to you Future President. How will you keep this world safe? How will you win this war on terror?

Sincerely, Wil 

Works Cited

Rather, Dan. "Media's Balancing Act with Terrorism." CNN. Cable News Network, 11 Sept. 2011. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

Burke, Jason. "How the Changing Media Is Changing Terrorism." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 25 Feb. 2016. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

Bilgen, Arda. "Terrorism and the Media: A Dangerous Symbiosis."EInternational Relations. E-International Relations Students, 22 July 2012. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

Seipel, Brooke. "The Clause." The Clause. The Clause, 25 Mar. 2015. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

Shankar, Abha. "Social Media Emerges as a Valuable Terrorist Fundraising Tool." The Investigative Project on Terrorism. Abha Shankar, 20 Apr. 2016. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

"Terrorism and Social Media." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Sept. 2016. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

Yiannopoulos, Milo. "How I Got 235,000 Terrorists Suspended From Twitter."Breitbart News. Breitbart, 19 Aug. 2016. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

"First Amendment - U.S. Constitution." Findlaw. Thomson Reuters, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

"What Are Common American Censorship Laws?" Hg.org. Hg.org, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

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