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Program

Social media vs. digital jihad

Hosted by The Digital Mass Atrocity Prevention Lab
Tuesday, June 23 / Room A/B

The efficiency with which extremist groups recruit radicalized followers online has caused upheaval around the world. The lives of civilians everywhere - in terrorist-controlled territories and elsewhere - are at risk. Today, extremist groups such as ISIS, AQMI, Boko Haram, and al Qaeda do not simply fight abroad, but also online and in Western countries. A fertile ground for militancy, social media are used by terrorists to defend their cause, exhibit their crimes, incite hate and violence, and attract followers by promising something for everyone. While the Internet is not the sole cause of radicalization, it has made jihadist messages easily available to all. Social media have become a weapon of war and we can no longer ignore this fact.

As the battle against extremism increasingly takes place in cyberspace, Western governments and institutions are committed to fighting home-grown terrorism and radicalization, particularly online. But terrorist groups benefit from constant technological progress, and governments are struggling to keep up.

How does the extremist propaganda machine work? Which sophisticated methods do extremist groups use to spread their messages? Most of all, what can Western governments, civil society groups and engaged individuals do – not only to identify would-be jihadists and “lone-wolves” – but also to counter radicalized discourse and hate speech?

This workshop will provide a synopsis of the methods used by extremist groups and explain why the public should care. Panel experts and participants will generate and share innovative ideas that can be used to fight extremist propaganda online – ideas that utilize new media and technologies not as weapons of war, but as tools to prevent the spread of radicalization and terrorism.

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