Category Archives: Vol. 12 No. 3

“Outside Experts”: Expertise and the Counterterrorism Industry in Social Media Content Moderation

Who’s the expert? The counterterrorism industry has often been described as a revolving door. Self-described “experts” move between military, intelligence, research, and academic circles creating the dominant, orthodox narratives that frame our collective understanding of terrorism and terrorist actors.

As companies are under increasing pressure to address and respond to terrorist material on social media platforms, the counterterrorism industry has also gripped Silicon Valley. Amre Metwally’s article is the first to examine the ways in which terrorism experts have increasingly shaped the ways in which technology companies define, enforce, and remove online actors and content they see as part of the terrorism umbrella.

Using a framework of “inside experts” (experts from the public sector moving into the technology industry and the growth of “Intelligence Desks”) and “outside experts” (third-party companies who provide risk monitoring and threat analysis to technology companies), the article documents how expertise is produced as social media companies draft their content policies on terrorism-related issues.

The Selling of a Precedent: The Past as Constraint on Congressional War Powers?

Has precedent eroded Congress’s war powers? James Lebovic looks to the various standards of social-scientific inquiry to suggest that an exclusive focus on legal analysis has unnecessarily limited the war powers debate in recent decades.

Lebovic finds that even though Congress appears to defer to the President based on war powers precedent, it is often politics—and not legal precedent—that explains Congress’s deference.

Lebovic finds that assessing rule-based, fact-based, and action-based precedents through social-scientific standards shows that Congress often defers to the President because of the political process. This social-scientific approach stands in contrast to prevalent legal analysis—and Lebovic concludes that today’s practitioners would do well to consider it as they assess the boundaries of congressional war powers.

Olive Branches or Fig Leaves: A Cooperation Dilemma for Great Power Competition in Space

As the race to space resurges, the United States’ great power competition with China has expanded to the space domain. Without a universally-observed rules regime governing space matters, the United States must be considerate in its engagement with China, acting with the future in mind to secure enduring advantages not only in space, but in all other competitive domains.

Through the “olive branch” and “fig leaf” approaches, Col. Matthew King analyzes the United States’ strategic options for cooperation and engagement with China on space matters, exploring the benefits and risks to the United States under each approach and outlining areas of mutual engagement in the space domain between the two countries.

King concludes that US leaders must gauge the threat posed by China in space, balanced against the advantages of cooperation, in order to formulate olive branch and fig leaf approaches that will promote US interests, mitigate Chinese gains, and secure systemic stability to cement sustained future US advantage.