Is Censoring Terrorists On The Internet Counterproductive?

By on July 2, 2019

July 2, 2019

Monitoring and taking down terrorist internet content is generally viewed as sound defensible policy, with the main problems being the sheer quantity of material and the difficulty of establishing an operative definition of what needs to be censored. But a post from Lawfare, a law and national security site associated with the Brookings Institution, says it may be more complicated than that. “Stopping online terrorist content is not the same as stopping terrorism. In fact, the two goals may be at odds,” writes Joe Whittaker, a specialist in terrorist use of the internet and social media. One obvious consideration: Any would-be terrorist who uses the internet is more likely to be known to security services. However, Whittaker acknowledges this isn’t an easy issue to resolve. Most would agree that things like the real-time broadcast of the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand are beyond the pale, but short of that one suggested strategy has been termed “marginalization,” where instead of total take-down the content remains accessible, but some features – e.g. a comments section and any mechanism to monetize – get disabled.

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