Who to Stop ...Terrorist ''Media''?
01 August 2016
By Salman Al-dossary
A massive revolution has taken over media. Unlike old times, mainstream media
is not controlled by a distinct podium. Media is no longer restricted to
televised broadcasting channels, radio or press; the means for circulating
news has been diversified. Self-extracted updates are no longer a necessity
for entering the news industry.
Social media unlocked extraordinary horizons that each person could find a
thousand ways to benefit from. However, this unprecedented revolution, no
longer is an unsupervised portal for viewing one's opinion, for ill willed
people rarely leave an opportunity unexploited.
Misuse has become the general rule, and no longer an exception, especially
with rumors, accusations, incitement and threats of murder becoming as easy as
they have on social media.
Not only that, but dimensions were also stretched further. Before, the
diversity of books available ranged in the sense of ''how to learn English in
seven days?'' and '' how to become a millionaire'' ; overnight- we have awaken
to online websites, social media accounts and YouTube videos giving detailed
demos on how to assemble hand grenades and destructive explosives, using none
other than accessible kitchen utensils and housecleaning detergents.
As nations launch operations and dispatch armies to conflict zones, terrorists
exploit social media with no confrontation or restrictions to their misconduct
– not in the sense of prohibition rather than inhibition.
The ever growing question, ''is there no effective mean to control social
media which warped into terrorism?'' remains to be answered.
Last week, participating at one of the Arab Media Forum sessions in Dubai, I
spoke of how long the battle would take, should online arenas remain within
the reach of terrorist's wanton usage and absence of laws that stand in the
way of their exploitation.
Confronting terrorists with ideology and not obstruction is a necessity which
adequately leads exemplary communities, in which terrorism fails in persuading
its youth. Terrorists have long been able to coax young recruits, only to
later toss them amid fiery battles.
By far, there is no better mean to spreading poisonous radical ideology than
social media. Over 80 percent of ISIS recruits have been reached over social
media. Moreover, 90 percent of terrorist attacks have exhibited the usage of
homemade explosives which have ''how-to'' recipes spread all over the
Any extremist is easily capable of recording a video viewing violence, murder
and destruction; and is only faced with a futile warning – which comes only
after hundreds of thousands already viewing the material- which is followed
with a repeat upload from the same or different account.
The extremist will incessantly bombard the online community with violence and
radicalizing material until his/her message has reached everyone, at a time
organized law systems are rendered unable to prevent the spread of extremism.
It is puzzling to know that some extremists have been reaching the public
through anonymous or made-up accounts, which are allowed to run without being
Why should extremists be able to access fake accounts? would it not be better
if among the conditions for signing up on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, is to
place one's personal contact number, under terms of confidentiality which only
make the information accessible to governments. The contact information would
be handed over to authorities in case of the account proving to be used
illegally, and only by virtue of a legal warrant.
I can almost guarantee that over 90 percent of extremists would cease social
media corruption, simply because they will not opt to be exposed before
Traditionally, a terrorist's means of destruction are machine-guns and
explosive belts, but it has now diverged into the smallest of devices; a
cellphone and a social media account.
Former means for terrorism were spotted and put under control with no trouble.
However, at the moment, no serious international efforts are being invested
into obstructing extremists taking on social media as a platform to spread
hate and terror.
Salman Aldosary is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.