Fight against ISIS reveals power of social media

It is hard to measure the real impact that the audiovisual strategy of ISIS on social media has in the radicalization process of a terrorist. It would be simplistic to conclude that the terrorists of Paris committed the attack because they watched ISIS videos on the internet. But at the same time, there are significant grounds to suspect that the ISIS audiovisual communication through social networks might be linked with the terrorist attacks.

The country that has received the most threats by ISIS via videos broadcasted on social media is Russia, with more than 25 in two years. France follows, with almost 20 in the same timeframe. During the last two weeks, events have shown that threats to those countries were not only digital, but also real.

On October 31, fourteen days before the attacks in Paris, ISIS released a video encouraging young people in France to join the terrorist group. Something similar happened on June 26, when a terrorist inspired by ISIS committed a terrorist attack in Lyon. One month earlier, ISIS had released a video on social media encouraging young French citizens to commit terrorist attacks. Finally, one month before the January 7 attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, ISIS released a video where a group of young French citizens asked their peers to enlist in the ranks of terrorist group.

Given these facts, it is more important than ever to analyze and understand the role of audiovisual communication in the radicalization of terrorists and to define an efficient way to counter it.

Text published on the website of Brookings

 

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