Evolution of Violent Extremist and Terrorist Threats on Social Web


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Baris Kirdemir | EDAM & R. Bosch Cyber Policy Fellow

Social media represents an undeniable milestone in human civilization and progress. Yet, a constant battle takes place, either openly or behind the scenes, to save it from a committed crowd of malicious actors. Violent extremists and terrorist groups continue to develop new strategies to sustain their presence throughout online social networks. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms have employed various countermeasures in recent years. Automated and semi-automated systems utilize better algorithmic frameworks to effectively detect and eliminate terrorism, violent extremism, targeted hate speech, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and a set of crimes including terrorism financing and arms smuggling. However, an evolving violent extremist ecosystem across the virtual infosphere still poses major national security threats. This paper outlines current trends in the counterterrorism and counter extremism efforts online.

The first section overviews the impact of actions taken by major social media companies, concentrating on content removal, suspension, and deplatforming. The second section explores the evolution of a broader extremist ecosystem online, with an emphasis on its adaptability and multi-layered structure. The third section then discusses the lone-actor terrorism and hate crimes, as well as the overarching connections between online and offline manifestations of violent extremist behavior. The final section surveys the transformation of ISIS’s virtual presence, as it effectively illustrates the dynamic nature and resilience of the outlined security threats throughout the Internet.

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