I woke up yesterday morning to another awful terrorist attack, this time in the city of Brussels. I can’t even imagine the aftermath of this attack. My prayers go out to the families of lost loved ones, the hundreds who have been severely injured and the city of Brussels itself which has been crippled by this.
It is sad, but I feel like we are becoming numb to these maddening terrorism attacks. Each country that is involved reacts that same way, increasing security and ramping up investigations to track down the terrorists.
My first thought is always, what can I do? How can I help?
I believe social media can play a significant role in stopping and preventing terror, but countries, governments and law enforcement agencies have to strategically use social media in order to battle the terrorists that already are using social media for communication, recruiting and propaganda.
It starts with having a strategy.
On communication… we need to listen and monitor social messages from terrorists but more importantly we need to proactively infiltrate these communication streams before they happen. For example, we should already know the social media channels that terror cells are using and understand the pattern of the communication (time of day, jargon and parties involved). A few local law enforcement agencies in the United States are already doing this on Snap Chat in order to stop rival gangs from fighting.
On recruiting… we need to disrupt. By disrupting, we need to seek advocates in the Muslim community that can involve themselves in terror recruiting conversations on social networks and sway young men and women away from being recruited by terror groups. Governments need to take notice of the tactics that businesses use. Businesses recruit social media advocates in order to sway buyers into decisions. This recruiting is an ordinary conversation just like at your local bar or airport except these conversations take place on social networks.
On propaganda… we need to take a proactive approach by leading through promoting the successes against terror groups. Promoting that freedom, democracy and life is valuable. Branding is so key to this social media strategy. Countries have lost touch with branding while terror groups have embraced it. What happened to Uncle Sam? What an excellent branding tool Uncle Sam was to the both the United States troops and the people back home. It sounds crazy to promote victories but without promotion young individuals will follow the other symbols that are put before them.
Let’s learn and change from this attack and encourage our leaders to use social media as tool to ending terrorism.