SOCIAL MEDIA AND TERRORISM: CHALLENGES TO MODERN ERA

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SOCIAL MEDIA AND TERRORISM: CHALLENGES TO MODERN ERA

ABSTRACT

Social Media are connection and mass communication tools, characterized by a global diffusion and an ever-growing level of use, considering their handiness and flexibility, as well as their extreme cheapness. Social media platforms has far reaching social and security implications for the people of Nigeria, their government and its national security agencies such as the military and the police. In order to protect Nigeria’s freedom, security and prosperity, it is only fair that some serious studies be done about how the Government can harness online social networking tools and in equal measure monitor them in the event it threatens national security. The purpose of this study is to analyze social media and national security threats in Nigeria. Specific objectives were to examine: the threats of social media technology to Nigeria’s national security; the use of social media by the military in preventing, limiting or removing threats to national security; and the current state of Nigeria’s national security and how social media makes it worse. The study adopted survey research method. The target population was all members of the military working in Nairobi units and a sample size of 50 members of the military working in Nairobi units. The study used proportional stratified sampling method. From the findings, it was found that social media are used by terrorist organizations as tools for ideological radicalization, recruitment, communication and training of its members. It found that terrorist groups take advantage of Social Media to communicate with cyber-crime groups and to coordinate along with them fundraising activities carried out in part or completely on the Internet. The study found that social media are also used by Islamist groups for propaganda activities aimed at making public successful terrorist attacks, and, consequently, at throwing civil population into a panic. Criminal organizations are threats on drug smuggling, human trafficking and money-laundering. It found that community criminal organizations like Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), ‘Mungiki’ and ‘Sungusungu’ use social media as a tool to recruit, communicate, Spread propaganda and radicalization to a great extent. On the other hand the military use social media for military operations, communicating process of operation, boost morale of soldiers, clarify on propaganda messages sent by enemies and dispelling rumors, for updating civilians on progress of military operation, for public relations and operations such as “operation Linda Nigeria”. It found that the military uses social media as Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) to analyze social media threats as was the case in Westgate attack, Nairobi. The study found that the Nigerian Military uses social media as tool for Diplomacy in gathering and Disseminating Information. Through blogs, Facebook, emails and Twitter, Nigerians can source and comment on topical political, economic as well as social issues. The study found that the security in Nigeria is average and Nigeria is still grappling in the dark as the monster of hatred spreads. It found that social media has contributed towards cattle rustling, poaching, terrorism attacks, tribal clashes, information warfare and hate speech. The study concluded that terrorist groups take advantage of Social Media to communicate with cyber-crime groups and to coordinate along with them fund-raising activities carried out in part or completely on the Internet. It concludes that social media are also used by Islamist groups for propaganda activities aimed at making public successful terrorist attacks, and, consequently, throwing civil population into a panic. It concludes that counter propaganda is used by the military to counter social media threats. And that the best news management comes from the military since they have a range of options for communicating their standpoint. The study recommends that Nigeria needs to develop a comprehensive and adaptive national government policy framework that identifies roles, responsibilities, and resources across the government in order to detect, defend and pre-empt social media threats to the nation.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

The spread of social media, driven by internet boom and mobile technology is changing the way society operates.[1] For the past couple of decades, the two main screens have been the Television screen and the computer screen. These days a host of smaller screens have joined the line-up; the screen on a cell phone, Ipod or Ipad.[2] The emergence of the small screen has encouraged the emergence of new trends; mass media have become increasingly mobile. The emergence and use of wireless laptops and cell phones are the current trend that has taken the world by storm, best known as “social media”. These simply are online communications that use special techniques that involve participation, conversation, sharing, collaboration, and linkage.[3]

Today, social media tools have become a staple in the everyday lives of many people becoming one of the main methods of social connection and interaction around the world, whether between individuals, or with businesses and governments. The growth of Web 2.0, its expanding global reach and potential new technologies to further its use and adoption argue that today’s social networking is a change in the form of human communication that cannot be ignored. Online social networks have impacted every field of human endeavor from education to health care and many more. National security is no exception. Due to globalization, focus has now shifted to assessing the effects of non-state actors. The advancement in social media has increased the ability of non-state actors including terrorists, criminals, protestors, hate mongers and rioters to impact national and international security. Power is constantly shifting and diluting from states to groups and individuals.

Since Social Media are extremely quickly evolving and are facing a many-sided interaction with geo-economic and socio-cultural elements, it is important to constantly monitor how they develop, analyze how they work, and measure their potentialities. This process aims at making the states not to be caught by surprise in case of a potential offensive use of Social Media by adversaries and at changing such innovative tools into resources of primary importance, to be ready for all the bodies involved in the protection of the national security.

Social media platforms has far reaching social and security implications for the people of Nigeria, their government and its national security agencies such as the military and the police. This study’s key concerns are on social media and national security threats in Nigeria. Advances in the sciences of computers have enabled social media to grow and reach the point where the exchange of information, both for good or evil now occurs on a global scale. For Nigeria’s national security planners, this information superhighway creates many challenges.  In a world of “active global listening, higher premiums are placed on the ability of intelligence agencies to sort the background “chatter” from the more critical and useful information that forms intelligence for security agencies and decision makers.[4] Despite the fact that social media is outside state control and does not discriminate. Nevertheless, the study will demonstrate that their use can lead help state foresee how emerging threats will present themselves in the future and figure out how to counter their effects.

Since social media constitutes a threat to national security, it is imperative that study be done to determine the negative impact of social media on Nigeria’s national security.  National security is the protection of Nigeria’s territorial integrity, its people, laws, values and national interests from both external and internal threats of all kinds (Constitution of Nigeria, Article 238).  This study therefore aims to provide the current state of the situation regarding the nature and use of social media in Nigeria and its threats and risks to the military and national security in general.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Nigeria being a member of international community is not immune to forces of social media regarding its use and misuse. The use of social media as a new communication platform introduces serious security and privacy concerns, including new vectors for cyber-attack that the government and the military cannot ignore. Criminal gangs, terrorist organizations, non-state actors with bad intentions and subversive elements including Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab, regularly use social media websites to disseminate propaganda with sole intention to reach out, recruit and radicalize their target audience. Individuals use social media to send alarming messages, hate messages and false information to the public regarding state of national security affairs. Most of the social media users remain unanimous and cannot be easily traced by law enforcement agencies and subsequent prosecution. States therefore are faced with tough challenges to track, monitor and contain the use and misuse of social media relative to state security. National security demands a strategy such as e.g. monitoring conversations and content shared on Social Media, arranging effective methods to counter adversaries’ propaganda and interferences, improving governmental agencies and institutions’ performances, strengthening a state’s geopolitical position and its international credibility. However, such initiatives require sophisticated technologies which are very complex, costly by third world countries.

Social media pose major threats and unfavorable consequences for national security. In order to protect Nigeria’s freedom, security and prosperity, it is only fair that some serious studies be done about how the Government can harness online social networking tools and in equal measure monitor them in the event it threatens national security. Therefore, like addressing any other national security challenge, the military and other security agencies need an understanding of how social media threatens national security. This study therefore will conduct a study about social media and national security threats, with specific reference to Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

1.3.1 General Objective

The general objective of the study is to analyze social media and national security threats in Nigeria.

[1] Ungerer C., (2012). Social media and national security, ASPI Strategic Policy Form, 27 February 2012, p1.

[2] Chadwish, Andrew (2006). Internet Politics: States, Citizens and New Communication Technologies. NY: Oxford University Press, 2006.p.11.

[3] Ibid

[4] Aday, Sean, Henry Farrell, Marc Lynch, and John Sides, (2010). Blogs and Bullets: New Media in Contentious Politics. Peaceworks, no. 65 (2010). P.11.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND TERRORISM: CHALLENGES TO MODERN ERA

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