ISSN 2330-717X

Rethinking Terrorism: Social Media And Its Role In Fake Warfare – OpEd

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Over the years, Information Technology has transformed the modes of communication. We are living in the age of information revolution which has actually changed the nature of power and has boosted its diffusion. Power over information is extensively dispersed but not limited to governance bodies, policy makers, corporations, non-profits and information ad hoc groups. More visible and concrete revolution to the modern society has made possible due to digital inclusion but it has prompted serious challenges to Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) regarding transparency, confidentiality, privacy, security, and protection of cyberspace. 

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and innovative technologies has blurred the distinction between war and peace. Increased use of advanced technology has given rise to hybrid warfare and modern terrorism. Digital technology and has deep rooted implications for non-state actors, especially hybrid terrorist organizations as it has completely transformed the definition of terrorism. Terrorism was previously confined to the traditional means including excessive use of bombings, kidnapping for ransom, and assassinations.

In today’s world, war has become more irregular as hybrid terrorist organizations have restructured their systems in order to radicalize youth, create divide among different ethnic and religious groups, and spread chaos. Social media acts as an imperative platform for non-state actors to spread fake warfare. Use of impression accounts, bots and other deep learning devices helps terrorist organizations to spread fake news and overspill social media platforms with irrelevant information and forged information. Nowadays, the win or defeat in war is not characterized by use of weapons or power but it is more about who is having power over information. 

On one hand, non-state actors have the edge to spread violent extremism and radicalize youth through social media platforms and on the other hand they launch cyber-attacks, denial-of-service attacks, computer viruses to destroy and damage computer systems and information networks. Therefore, there is a dreadful need to rethink terrorism and harness emerging troublesome technologies in order to overcome challenges postured by hybrid warfare. AI enabled deep learning techniques must be used in order to develop cyber security risk management tools, as measuring risks status is key to achieve cyber resiliency success. There is a need to formulate a combined task force by involving academic researchers, AI practitioners and LEAs to clout the strengths of governments by conducting joint research and making relevant decisions and policies to disrupt radicalization and neutralize hybrid warfare. 

*Miss Haleema Zia has done MS in Management Sciences from Riphah International University. She has 8 years of working experience with development sector and has also made efforts for countering terrorism. She is currently holding honorary position of Director Communications at Adal Foundation and is also working as an Independent Researcher in the fields of Management Sciences and Counter Terrorism. She can be accessed through [email protected]

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