In many ways, the Internet, and social media in particular, has made the world a much smaller place. It’s just so easy to communicate with people far away now, and to find people that you are compatible with who you would have never had the chance to meet otherwise. This is especially true on social media. It really can be a beautiful thing, if it is used the right away.
Of course, there always has to be a flip side.
The Internet, as anyone who has ever had the misfortune of scrolling down to the comments section of an article on Yahoo knows, is also a place where people hide behind their anonymity to say the most vile, hateful, racist things imaginable. Social media brings people together, but it can be also be used to bring the wrong people together, and for extremely nefarious purposes.
It has become a place for terrorists to find each other, according to a report released by the United Nations on Monday.
The report, entitled “The Use of Internet For Terrorist Purposes,” specifically calls out Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Rapidshare as services that have made it easier for terrorists to recruit.
“The promotion of extremist rhetoric encouraging violent acts is also a common trend across the growing range of Internet-based platforms that host user-generated content. Content that might formerly have been distributed to a relatively limited audience, in person or via physical media such as compact discs (CDs) and digital video discs (DVDs), has increasingly migrated to the Internet,” it says in the report.
“Such content may be distributed using a broad range of tools, such as dedicated websites, targeted virtual chat rooms and forums, online magazines, social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and popular video and file-sharing websites, such as YouTube and Rapidshare, respectively.”
“Nevertheless, even when such terms are in place, difficulties may arise in enforcement, owing in part to the broad user base and resulting high volume of user-generated content to be monitored,” the report states.
The United Nations urges nations to adopt legislation that will help to counter this type of activity
“The investigation of terrorism cases involving the use of the Internet or other related services by suspected terrorists often necessitates the use of specialized types of investigative powers by law enforcement agencies,” it said.
While the report acknowledges that most Governments have, in fact, adopted such legislation, it also urges those governments to protect “fundamental human rights protected under international human rights law.”
Twitter and Google could not be reached for comment.
(Image source: http://www.shesthefirst.org)