Tuesday, February 03, 2015

FBI official discusses abuse of social media by foreign interests in recruiting young adults and teens (on CNN)


Today, Pamela Brown on CNN interviewed Michael Steinbach of the FBI and the Counterterrorism Center in Tysons Corner VA, about the way ISIS, to a level unprecedented with previous extreme political or religious movements, uses social media to recruit late teens and young adults.  In some cases parents join in with the extremism, which would logically say that the social media may not have been the cause of the recruitment. In other cases, parents were oblivious.  Some “kids” were not well assimilated into mainstream culture (as in schools), but, as British Prime Minister David Cameron pointed out (somewhat critical of the president’s understanding), others were relatively privileged. One wonders how anyone gets recruited into a warrior cult if they follow any normal news, online, at all. 
       
Steinbach said that the Bureau has to walk the tightrope in distinguishing legitimate free speech and distribution (in an environment without gatekeepers), and those intending to plot harm, which can be a distinction difficult to make under the law. 
   
CNN has an older link where Brown talks to Steinbach here
   
France has said that it would promulgate new rules concerning social media very soon because of the tremendous problem of recruitment in Europe, which is larger than in the US. Could pressure to supervise social media use spill over into the US?
    
This story broke on the same day that CNN reported a horrific execution by ISIS.  

There is something else to ponder here.  People experience social media within their own circles of friends, with nearsighted views of issues, often unaware of the bigger pictures of things and how they can be affected by the "outside world." 
       
I have to say that in almost thirty years before 9/11, I often worked with IT professionals from Islamic countries (especially Pakistan), and religion and other social norms didn’t come up.  Often, fundamentalist Christianity was seen as more extreme.  Religion was always seen as a strictly personal matter by almost everyone in the US.   


Update: (Feb 6).  I've covered Electronic Frontier Foundation's coverage of measures proposed in France on my International Issue blog today.  

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