Category Archives: Religious Extremism

Social Media—A Tool for Terror?

By Ruhi Kumar

The prevalence of terrorist organizations using social media generates a host of new challenges for online platforms, policymakers, and governments. Specifically, the global, highly accessible, and fast-evolving nature of social media provides a particularly lucrative platform for terrorist organizations to promote their ideologies. While there is a growing demand for responsible and accountable online governance, the lack of effective content moderation policies, transparency, and cultural understanding continues to facilitate harmful content on social media platforms. To meaningfully tackle these issues, it is crucial that national governments and lawmakers consider a combination of policy and legislative solutions.

Although the terms of service of many leading social media companies stipulate that terrorist content is forbidden, the lack of effective content moderation processes fails to effectively turn policy into practice. For instance, Facebook’s Community Standards state that organizations that are engaged in terrorist activity are not allowed on the platform; however, what is classified as ‘terrorist content’ under Facebook’s policy is a highly subjective question under which the platform is given complete discretion. Additionally, “by its own admission, Facebook continues to find it challenging to detect and respond to hate speech content across dynamic speech environments, multiple languages, and differing social and cultural contexts.”

For instance, in Myanmar, the lack of content moderators who speak local languages and understand the relevant cultural contexts has allowed for terrorist content to proliferate. According to a United Nations investigation, Facebook’s platform was utilized to “incite violence and hatred against” ethnic minorities in Myanmar, leading to over 700,000 members of the Rohingya community fleeing the country due to a military crackdown.

Despite being aware of these repercussions, Facebook neglected to deploy the necessary resources to combat hate speech as at the time there were only two Burmese speakers employed at Facebook who were tasked with reviewing problematic posts. Hence it can be argued that in some of the world’s most volatile regions, terrorist content and hate speech escalate because social media platforms fail to employ the necessary resources to moderate content written in local languages.

In Myanmar, this lack of policy oversight caused inflammatory content to flourish and harm local minority populations. To address this issue, social media platforms should not only hire local content moderators but also consider developing a partnership program with local individuals and NGOs. Developing a local partnership program would create an effective communication channel wherein members of the local population could report hate and terrorist speech directly, thereby enabling social media content moderators to address harmful content and mitigate potential damage more quickly.

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Lessons for the Next Twenty Years: What We’ve Learned in the Two Decades Since 9/11

LESSONS FOR THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS: WHAT WE’VE LEARNED IN THE TWO DECADES SINCE 9/11

A Note from Editor-in-Chief William C. Banks

By any measure the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 brought an immediate laser focus to the phenomenon of international terrorism.

Though hardly new to the United States and the world in 2001, the 9/11 attacks instantaneously elevated countering international terrorism to the dominant national security imperative at home and abroad.

Questions were legion: Should we have known the attacks were coming? What could we have done to prevent them? What lessons learned will help forestall the next attack? What are the best options for countering international terrorism?

Twenty years later many lessons have been learned, even as we continue to struggle with the ever changing dynamics of global terrorism. JNSLP is honored to publish this Special Edition, “Lessons Learned for the Next Twenty Years: What We’ve Learned in the Two Decades Since 9/11.”

Managing Terrorism

Legal analysis of the now much maligned “war on terror” has been a growth industry since the events of September 11, 2001. Despite this, how best to respond to and regulate terrorism remains a contested debate intellectually and practically. This article dives into that empirical gap by providing unique data on the operation of detention, arrest, and trial regimes created to counter and manage terrorism in the United Kingdom.

Managing Terrorism