Chapter 18 Discussion Question Pointers

End of Chapter Question Pointers

Chapter 18 – Social Media and Terrorism

Donald Holbrook

  1. Do social media aid or inhibit terrorism?
  2. In answering this question, consider what are the real-world implications of engaging in social media activities associated with terrorism? What else determines this impact? Which benefits might terrorists derive from using social media? How are these dependent on context? Do these fundamentally alter, supplant, or supplement existing activities of terrorists? What might the pitfalls be for terrorists relying on or transitioning towards increased use of social media?

  3. Who should lead efforts to combat terrorists’ use of social media and how can these efforts be encouraged?
  4. This question encourages you to think about which agencies, organizations, and other bodies might have a role to play. What determines their success? What challenges are they likely to face? You can also think about how can non-hierarchical and civil-society organizations be mobilized? What determines their credibility and how can it be retained or nurtured?

  5. What are the consequences of targeting terrorists’ use of social media?
  6. Consider these: Can social media use alter the objectives of terrorists? Can engagement which is largely concentrated in the online space and on social media have a cathartic effect on those involved? What, then, are the risks of them translating these activities into physical violence and how is that risk affected by social media use? What are the effects associated with terrorists migrating to less open platforms?

  7. How can a balance be struck between addressing citizens’ right to privacy vis-á-vis their right to security?
  8. To answer this question, think about the measures that need to be in place to ensure such a balance is struck. Who is responsible for its implementation and design? What is the role of regulators and legislators? What is the role of social media platforms and businesses?

  9. How do we assess if efforts to target terrorist use of social media are being effective?
  10. To answer this, consider other questions such as: Are the objectives of these efforts clearly articulated? Are they broad or narrow? Who is responsible for achieving them? What are the benchmarks of success and failure and how can these be assessed?

  11. How will this terrain evolve? What challenges are we likely to face in the future?
  12. Reflect on the challenges that new technological developments will entail. How will these play out narrowly, for the terrorists and their organizations, and broadly, for the societies they seek to influence?