Interactive media and online forums are an amazing

 Interactive communities can be a unique and powerful tool to discuss a particular subject.  With proper moderation, online forums have been proven to be a very productive and open source of discussion- often as constructive as group gatherings, if not more so.  Social media and online forums are an amazing form of communication, but in recent times, their power has been used in the wrong hands.  The anonymous nature of these communities has attracted terrorist recruiters, seeking to radicalize fringe internet users.  These recruiters can make themselves nearly impossible to track.  Their message appeals to followers of Islam, and, to an extent, the mentally ill.  Without careful moderation, terrorist recruiters can become a dangerous sect of an online community.  The Internet has revolutionized the way we communicate.  Social media in particular has allowed information to be shared faster than ever before.  It also allows open discussion with anyone about any topic.  This freedom of speech online has raised some real concerns about how to combat speech that goes ‘too far’- specifically, terrorist groups.  There is no doubt today that terrorist recruiters are using the Internet and social media to spread fear and attract soldiers for their cause.  They use many different platforms to radicalize and recruit their viewers all over the world.  Websites like Twitter have an eye out for such harmful content-  last year, over 300,000 accounts were suspended for pro-terrorism messages.  Daily suspensions have been on the rise as well; even so, Twitter has been called a “social media battleground” in regards to recruitment.  If Twitter’s team of moderators struggle with the torrent of terrorist content, think how bad the problem is with poorly moderated websites!  Websites controlled or operated by terrorist ground have multiplied dramatically over the past decade, according to reporter Barbara Mantel.  In a paper entitled ‘Terrorism and the Internet’, he writes about a fellow terrorism researcher who had been monitoring such websites.    “We started 11 years ago and were monitoring 12 terrorist websites.  Today we are monitoring over 7000.”  Mantel also includes that “nearly every designated foreign terrorist group now has an online presence, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.”  So why do terrorists flock to these online communities?  Maybe it’s for many the same reasons we enjoy the Internet so much:  Its ease of access, its interactiveness,  its general lack of regulation, and of course, its anonymity.  Terrorist posts on social media are an incredibly powerful tool for conveying their messages around the world.  The ability to voice your opinion and to have open discussions while remaining anonymous is a unique and powerful feature of the Internet.  These online communities also allow for an open exchange of ideas, regardless of location, age, race, etc.  The Internet also allows for people to speak their mind without repercussions in real life.  Even with all of these unique benefits, however, critics see online communities as a platform for dangerous groups to spread their messages and to grow their numbers.  Specifically, they cite a rise in terrorist activity and recruitment online.  Given the success of groups such as ISIS in recruiting fringe internet users on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, we find ourselves asking whether anonymous social networks like Twitter really are terrorist magnets.  If so, how do we stop these recruiters?  Fortunately for us, our own government is one step ahead.  The NSA has long been known to spy on on suspected terrorists at home and abroad in the hopes of stopping their plans proactively.  By searching for terrorist recruiters and stopping them, the NSA helps make interactive communities a better place.  The constant threat of NSA surveillance also helps to deter terrorists from using such communities, and forces them to use more secure means of communication.    In cases of terrorism that aren’t so obvious, simple human moderation will suffice.  In most online forums, content that is supportive of terrorist groups will be removed on the basis of hate speech or violence.  Other times, posting such content may result in a site-wide ban from the platform- silencing the user forever.  A moderator’s discretion is usually sufficient in deciding whether or not a post/poster condones or promotes violence.  Finally, interactive communities automate their content through ‘likes’- if something is posted by a popular user, or gets enough likes, it will be shown to more people.  The unpopular nature of terrorists means that their posts aren’t seen by as many people.  This is a great example of how social media can be a democratic process- and how that process naturally slows the message of terrorists.  Social media is constructed in a way that promotes a democratic process and punishes radical recruiters.  With proper moderation, interactive communities can provide a unique space to share ideas, gain information, and stay up to date on current events.  In my opinion, terrorism in interactive communities isn’t much of a threat.  Big websites like Facebook and Twitter can keep track of terrorists online and ban them, thanks to the report feature.      I think Perspective A is a more well-written paper.  I certainly had more fun putting it together than Perspective B.  The source I used for much of Perspective A was by a reporter named Barbara Mantel, a freelance reporter who is now working for the CQ Press.  He seems like a fair source.  His paper, “Terrorism and the Internet (2009)” had so much good information that it could have been the basis for the entire Perspective.  However I felt that was irresponsible.  Instead I wove in different sources with Mantel’s article.  A few of my sources are not very timely, especially considering Mantel’s piece is nearly eight years old now.  However, terrorism online is still a big deal and can still be hindered by moderation, which was the point of the article.  These days ISIS is losing ground and is resorting to more scare tactics and recruitments online.  Given the recent terror attack in New York, we should be on guard and watch out for terrorist threats made on social media.