Thursday, February 26, 2015

Radicalization of young men online seems out of control, a result of asymmetry: "How do you take down the Internet?"

A lot of material appeared on the Web and in the media today about radicalization.  An opinion by Muller on CNN reverted away from the “end of days” apocalyptic theory advanced by Peter Bergen, toward older Al Qaeda theories (from Osama bin Laden) about American occupation and mistreatment of prisoners, at Gitmo and so on.
But then today the FBI, after some sensational arrests in New York and Florida well covered in the media, said that we are “losing the social media war”.  ABC started it with this story, and NBC gave even more detail here.  The general idea was advanced that the NSA and CIA weren’t set up to stop asymmetric online recruitment of a young Muslim man in his parent’s basement in Minneapolis.  Intelligence Center Director James Clapper suggested, not entirely in gest, that we could be headed toward shutting off the Internet, link on RT here
Then AC360 tonight showed this video, 5 minutes, “Inside the ISIS Machine”, which right now speaks for itself.  Most of the appeals come from overseas and many are in Arabic or various other languages. 
Officials in France wanted Google, Facebook and Twitter to be more pro-active in preventing recruiting content from being posted;  right now they take it down when users complain.  But “ordinary users” in a general US or European audience are unlikely even to look for this content. 
Just browsing YouTube  I found one easily, that says “Join the Ranks” from the Islamic State, from “Syria Focus”.  If you click on it you get a “Content Warning” and have to sign on to Google to see it;  the message says it was put there by the uploader.  (If I had been signed on already, I would not have seen the interstitial warning.  I suppose anyone could look at it in order to report it to Googe-YouTube, but does it violate the terms of service?  It showed 50,700+ views, which suggests no one objects.  I don’t normally make it my business to look for content on the Internet to complain about.)  That may disappear, but others will appear.  I will not knowingly give the link URL because of the nature of the content. 
Again, on the "reporting issue" -- I've never reported any content to any service provider.  I don't do that.  I don't troll in order to get people knocked off line.  Do many people do this?  What I will do is call law enforcement if I learn of a threat from something online (like an email).  I have done this several times since 9/11 (but not since 2005).  But short of the "see something, say something" idea with actually contacting law enforcement, I don't normally take responsibility for what others may do when incited by media.  It's sort of the "mind your own business" mentality". 
While Google is now banning pornography from Blogger, in a sudden separate controversial measure that I have discussed elsewhere, I haven’t seen any open discussion of banning recruiting to terror causes.  It is hard to say what kind of automated screening (keywords) might be effective, in English and other languages and character sets. 
Yet the libertarian Cato Institute, which I support and attend, wrote a piece (and podcast) asserting that terrorism is not an existential threat in the US, link here.
And John Boehner make as “kiss my you-know-what” gesture concerning the DHS funding bill, while this is going on!

The news stories about "Jihadi John" from Britain certainly causes one to ponder how someone "privileged" goes wrong.  

(First picture is from Nevada, mine, 2012). 

No comments: