State Department Wants To Troll Terrorists Online
from the because-that'll-make-them-change-their-minds dept
It’s no secret that various extremists and terrorists groups use the internet just like everyone else. And, of course, there are places where they communicate. Some politicians, like Joe Lieberman, think that the way you should respond to this is by having companies censor any account that appears to be connected to terrorist organizations that he doesn’t like. That this might cause such marginalized groups to feel even more persecuted and angry never seems to cross his mind.
Of course, that’s not the only approach. Spencer Ackerman, over at Wired’s Danger Room blog, has a fascinating story about a guy at the State Department (with almost no budget) who is trying to ramp up a plan, called Viral Peace, which is basically all about using social media to troll terrorists and extremists online in the hope of convincing some to give up.
The program, called Viral Peace, seeks to occupy the virtual space that extremists fill, one thread or Twitter exchange at a time. Shahed Amanullah, a senior technology adviser to the State Department and Viral Peace’s creator, tells Danger Room he wants to use “logic, humor, satire, [and] religious arguments, not just to confront [extremists], but to undermine and demoralize them.” Think of it as strategic trolling, in pursuit of geopolitical pwnage.
While I certainly appreciate this idea more than the outright censorship plan that Lieberman seems to like, I do wonder if the program might backfire by doing the exact opposite of what they’re trying to do. Trolling has its place and can rile people up, but I’m not sure it’s ever effective in getting anyone to change their position. In fact, it can often make people dig their heels in even deeper…