Social media can either be a negative or a positive influence, depending on the message that is being spread. Most social media users would hope it is being used to connect people on a basis of positive and non-harmful beliefs. Social media can assist in supporting people in a variety of ways, with activism including protesting for human rights, raising money for a cause, and the list goes on. While activism and engaging with a cause is really the way to go, social media can also certainly bring awareness to the many issues in society – that we most likely would not know of without it. The terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, has carried out many attacks on targets it considers a “nonbeliever,” which clearly makes them an extreme threat to countries around the world.
Militant groups have been gaining a significant reach to supporters by taking advantage of social networks. Over just the past year, “dozens of videos and Facebook pages advocating extremism have appeared on the internet,” mentioned in the global post; increasing the number of Albanians reported to be fighting for Al Qaeda-related groups. The militants involved have chosen the internet to narrate their exploits and recruit new members. I also learned recently at a class visit to Radio Europe, I learned that they even had enough supporters to create a social media team – working like any other social network, blogging and tweeting at ‘fans’ and updating followers/supporters of their agenda and motives. It is scary to think that a terrorist organization has access to these resources, enabling them to expand their online and offline network rapidly.
According to a recent Prague Post, Al Qaeda is tending to focus spreading their beliefs and goals among young Muslims in Europe and the Czech Republic via the Internet. The post, written by Czech News Agency, states, “An uncontrolled spreading of radical ideas raises the danger of terrorist attacks” and I completely agree with this statement. One of the many terrifying outcomes of terrorist organizations spreading ideologies via the Internet and social networks is that not only does it create a larger support group within the organization, but it triggers those outside of the terrorist group to carry out terrorist attacks independently. Anyone streaming the internet who may have any terrorist motives, seeing these radical ideas with a support system, could potentially be inspired to pursue a terrorist attack of their own. The report on the post writes, “Czech soldiers in foreign missions are exposed to a high risk, as well as military diplomats at embassies in the Middle East and North African countries and in the countries in Asia where mainly Al-Qaeda branches operate.” While these posts on terrorism spreading via social media raise awareness, where are we supposed to go from here? Majority of the world’s population has access to the Internet and those in potential danger can be quickly informed of possible attacks; however, with this, terrorist organizations, in this case Al-Qaeda, can quickly fire back and defend themselves against anyone speaking against them. So, where do we go from here?