Friday after lunch Michael Leiter, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, recommended that a collection of social media firms could (ought to) establish a joint funding mechanism and otherwise collaborate to work with specific communities to provide training and other support to facilitate the communication of positive narratives. I could not really tell how the other panelists or audience reacted. There was no substantive follow-on.
Mr. Leiter suggested this would be an appropriate way for private sector technology firms to take some responsibility for their unintended role in online terrorist operations.
I could not tell if this concept was related to Secretary Johnson’s Thursday comments (see prior post) or is a parallel emergence. But this is the first glimmer of a bit of convergence.
It is interesting that there seems to be an assumption that more expansive online involvement would tend to marginalize the terrorist trolls and trawling. I’m not sure, but I hope the assumption is true.
Since the four paragraphs above I have had a conversation with two people especially knowledgeable regarding online behavior within the Islamic community. (For a variety of reasons, I will not name them.) It is also their assessment that private efforts to encourage more American Muslims to use social media would serve to suppress the attraction and effectiveness of the terrorists. One quoted some statistics that suggest an even greater youth-versus-other gap among American Muslims than is typical. More Muslim presence in social media will, he claimed, serve to innately give rise to more positive narratives… and more effective counter-messaging.
Given my own experience of wide-spread non-listening online and regular digital yelling, I may still be a bit skeptical. But I am very pleased to report these alternative judgments.