How Has the Emergence of Social Media Platforms Influenced Contemporary Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism?

Published: 2022-12-09
How Has the Emergence of Social Media Platforms Influenced Contemporary Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism?
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Company History Society
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 901 words
8 min read


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The emergence of social media has been a platform that terrorists are using currently in planning and managing terrorist attacks. On the other hand, the counter-terrorist lot also use a social media platform with the aim of promoting their messages and activities. When the United States of America was attacked, 9/11, the aftermath was the terrorist groups moving to cyberspace. It followed that some terrorist sites were established with the aim of spreading their messages. The targeted groups by the terrorist sites were the activists, counterterrorism, and law enforcement agencies. When such activity takes place, the members of such groups have a fear of the unknown and their services are altered, and they end up looking for alternatives for their online needs.

Terrorism and propaganda on social media sites

Terrorism is characterized by the fact that it tends to make use of publicity on the social media platforms to create fear to the people, and in that way, they will quickly succeed in radicalizing and recruiting individuals to its operations. The other way terrorists use is through the use of sympathy through online groups (Weimann, 2014). They use a method known as narrowcasting that has a message that is directed to specific segments of the public, that is defined by subscription, demographic attribute, values, and preferences. Facebook and Twitter are the two leading social media platforms that can be used by terrorists for effective communication by the terrorist (Awan, 2017, pp.143). The terrorist may choose to keep profiles on the platforms for some time or all the time depending on their intentions. For instance, Twitter has received much criticism for being hosting terror feeds. The drawback is that, in this way, Twitter enhances coordination of terror attacks.

As the fight on Isis was intensified, the campaign of cyber jihad was carried out. The approach employed in this specific activity was by use of internet and social media sites that targeted young as well as the impressionable people. On the other hand, it was also noted that the Isis posed online threatening messages and the response by the government is having a continuous battle in the efforts of removing online extremist material. For instance, the United Kingdom government succeeded in dealing with 15,000 items of the propaganda designed by Jihadists (Awan, 2017 pp. 138-149). Examples of the content that was removed by the UK government from the social media sites were videos and pictures of the recruits.

The main argument here is that social media platforms are becoming tools that terrorists are using in carrying out terrorist attacks in different parts of the world. The reason why this is possible is that there is a large group of people can be reached easily all over the world by social media sites (Osaherumwen, 2017, pp. 91). For example, YouTube has recently reported that it has more than 1 billion users every month (Farwell, 2014, pp. 52). The implication of this is that, at the moment when a terrorism video has been posted, in no time it will have reached most of the population of the world in no time.

Policing on Social media and terrorism

Many challenges are facing policing strategies of social media and on terrorism. One of the existing problems is on the limitations of the tools that can be used in analyzing a large amount of data being uploaded and posted every minute (West, 2016). There is a need for the development of big data tools to be applied to social media in the area of extremism and terrorism (Horgan and Braddock, 2012). Decisions on actions on social media can then be tracked and monitored well when the tools are availed.

Terrorists have turned to social media in place of acquiring skills and building of bombs. Social media is an increasing instrument being used in spreading the ideology of terrorism, especially to the young generation. The internet has succeeded in replacing the printed press in the passing of messages by terrorists (Pelzer, 2018, pp.172). Through social media, terrorists can get trade weapons as well as carrying fundraising for terror activities.


The UK reported that Facebook is being used by terrorists in making connections for selling heavy weapons, and guns (Pedahzur, 2006). Taliban and Al-Quaeda are terrorist's groups that have been noted to be leading in using social media in preparing for attacks. On the other, it is almost all terrorist's organizations that have websites, and in this way, the exploit uses the existence of the internet (Dean et al., 2012, pg.115). Isis is using Twitter in recruiting young people by the approach of spreading. For the counterterrorism efforts, social media is helping in tracking down offline crimes as well as doing online tracking for activities that are intended in establishing terror attacks.


Awan, I., 2017. Cyber-extremism: Isis and the power of social media. Society, 54(2), pp.138-149.

Dean, G., Bell, P. and Newman, J., 2012. The dark side of social media: review of online terrorism. Pakistan Journal of Criminology, 3(3), pp.103-122.

Farwell, J. (2014). The Media Strategy of ISIS. Survival, 56(6), pp.49-55.

Osaherumwen, I., 2017. International terrorism: The influence of social media in perspective. International Journal, 3(10), pp.86-91.

Pelzer, R. (2018). Policing of Terrorism Using Data from Social Media. European Journal for Security Research, 3(2), pp.163-179.

Pedahzur, A. ed., 2006. Root causes of suicide terrorism: The globalization of martyrdom. Routledge.

Weimann, G., 2014. New terrorism and new media (Vol. 2). Washington, DC: Commons Lab of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

West, L.J., 2016. # jihad: Understanding social media as a weapon. Security Challenges, 12(2), pp.9-26.

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