How Our Enemies Are Beating Us At The Influence Game
What do terrorism and social media have in common? They both use weapons of mass communication to target their objectives. If there is any doubt about the impact of social media in the recruitment of future terrorists, you don’t need to look any further than San Bernardino.
Terrorism And Social Media
I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Evan Swarztrauber with the Tech Policy Podcast – part of TechFreedom.org. In Evan’s show notes he remarks:
ISIS and other terrorist groups are using social media to recruit members to their causes. Tech companies like Twitter and Facebook are working to take down extremist propaganda, and even hacktivist groups like Anonymous are joining the fight. But is this a losing battle?
Evan is joined by Morgan Wright, a cybersecurity analyst for major media outlets and a senior fellow at the Center for Digital Government. They discuss the state of terrorism on social media and efforts to combat radicalization online. What responsibility do tech companies have to police their platforms? What’s the proper role for government? See more of Morgan’s work on his website.
Here’s the full podcast below.
If You’re Not Winning, You’re Losing
Not my words. The words of Admiral Mike Mullen in a Stars and Stripes interview back in 2009. While he was talking about combat operations and the Taliban, this is just as relevant to social media as it is to launching missiles.
ROSE: Are the Taliban winning?
MULLEN: I said last September we’re not winning, but I think we can. And in a counterinsurgency, if you’re not winning, you’re losing.
So, the question is…are we winning or losing the battle of influence over social media? I think we’re losing. Why? Because in the United States we are a free and open society with access to different opinions and schools of thoughts. The thought police, unlike China, don’t exist here in the U.S. regardless of the drama created by certain groups.
That means jihadists-in-training get easy access to the exact information they need, at they time they need it. This opportunity to counter-program doesn’t exist in the countries of our adversaries, or in the areas they operate in. So until there is equal footing, the good guys will always continue to lose the battle of influence.