Social media, the online environment and terrorism

Katherine Brown, Elizabeth Pearson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In 2015 the speed, scale and reach of social media gave terrorist organizations the capacity to reach some 2 billion individuals. By 2014 there were over 10,000 individual websites (up from 2,000 in 2003) making material available to some 3 billion Internet users in 2015 (Weimann, 2016). Weimann’s early (2004) analysis of the thousands of terrorist websites found that every ideology was represented, including Hamas, the Shining Path, the Supreme Truth, and Al-Qaeda. As a result, terrorist recruitment, funding, propaganda, bomb-making know-how and the ability to choose and hit targets, have all been impacted, particularly by Web 2.0 (Mantel 2009). Brachman (2008, 116) shows how Jihadist theologian al-Suri in The Call to Global Islamic Resistance ‘frequently discusses the Internet and new media technologies, recognizing them as critical vehicles for inciting global resistance’. Terrorists’ shift towards the cyberworld simply mirrors society’s expanding digital footprint and seamless movement between the ‘virtual’ and ‘real’. Consequently, understanding content alone is insufficient; it is necessary to trace the social human connections, collaborations and networks through which such malleable content flows.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook Of Terrorism And Counterterrorism
ISBN (Print)781138819085
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018

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