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The Sri Lankan government briefly blocked Facebook in March 2018, saying posts appeared to have incited anti-Muslim violence. Credit Ishara S. Kodikara/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

This is the ugly conundrum of the digital age: When you traffic in outrage, you get death.

So when the Sri Lankan government temporarily shut down access to American social media services like Facebook and Google’s YouTube after the bombings there on Easter morning, my first thought was “good.”

Good, because it could save lives. Good, because the companies that run these platforms seem incapable of controlling the powerful global tools they have built. Good, because the toxic digital waste of misinformation that floods these platforms has overwhelmed what was once so very good about them. And indeed, by Sunday morning so many false reports about the carnage were already circulating online that the Sri Lankan government worried more violence would follow.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman is evacuated from the Bataclan theater after the shooting in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015. Thibault Camus/Associated Press

Like many Americans, the two of us have strong reasons to hope that 2017 is better than recent years. On Nov. 13, 2015, Beatriz’s daughter, Nohemi, was killed in the Paris terror attacks by an Islamic State cell operating out of Brussels. On March 22, 2016, Cameron’s husband, Alexander, and her sister-in-law, Sascha, were murdered at the Brussels Airport by terrorists from the same cell. One hundred and fifty-nine others also died in those attacks, and more than 600 people were injured.

The months since have been anguishing for us, and it is tempting to assign blame — to authorities who failed to heed warnings about suspected terrorists, to government policies that prevented effective surveillance and interdiction of the planners, and of course to the Islamic State terrorists who murdered our loved ones.…  Seguir leyendo »

No en el nombre de Alá

Acostumbrada por mi trabajo de profesora, desde hace por lo menos cuatro décadas, a tratar con gente joven y a observar su manera de ser y estar en el mundo, no me resulta difícil, por muy monstruoso que parezca, entender el comportamiento de quienes, el viernes de la semana pasada, sembraron la muerte y el horror en París.

Escribo entender, lo que no significa en absoluto justificar, porque en los últimos años percibo un cambio sustancial en la mentalidad de muchos jóvenes y en la concepción de sus valores y lo atribuyo a la enorme importancia que ejerce internet, a través de lo que llamamos redes sociales que, sin duda, han modificado y seguirán modificando el comportamiento de los más inermes, ofreciéndoles un mundo virtual en el que se sienten reconocidos, algo que muy a menudo no ocurre en su entorno, en lo que consideramos el mundo real.…  Seguir leyendo »

In meetings with U.S. counterterrorism officials, on Capitol Hill and with journalists, I am asked repeatedly about how Twitter has become a driving force behind global jihad and what I think can be done about this. Is it possible to stop the Islamic State and other jihadi groups from using services such as Twitter and whether it is, essentially, a game of whack-a-mole? The answer is clear: A model for action already exists. Facebook has effectively stopped these groups from using its platform over the past few months.

For more than a decade, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has spent every day monitoring, translating and analyzing online activity by jihadi organizations.…  Seguir leyendo »