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‘Hard Platforms’ vs ‘Friendly Platforms’: Understanding Jihadist Activism on the Internet

Our understanding of how the Internet has fostered terrorist activism is conditioned by an important bias that affects the robustness of our conclusions: the assumption that the Internet offers a series of traits that intrinsically aid the attainment of the goals of terrorist groups. Such analysis makes the mistake of describing the Internet as it is at present and extrapolating the traits to past and future contexts. In fact,  since its inception, the Internet has mutated constantly as a result of different technological innovations and the way in which new uses have been internalised by society.

A large number of works explore the historical evolution of terrorist activism on the Internet as if the different generations of radicals had been operating with the same kind of tool. In reality, for much of its existence the technology has lacked functions – ease of use, connectivity, adding individuals, and personalisation – that are an integral part of present-day social media. These functions are often considered to be a basic feature of the Internet but are, in fact, relatively new within its short lifespan.

Read more at the Global Network on Extremism & Technology

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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