Terrorism and Social Media

2018. Twitter suspended 166.153 accounts between July and December in 2018 for promoting terrorism. 2019. In 2019, Twitter suspended accounts linked to Hezbollah and Hamas after U.S. lawmakers criticized the company for allowing those entities to remain active on the platform. 2020. In October 2020, Samuel Paty, a French teacher, was killed and beheaded by an Islamist terrorist in a suburb of Paris. Only minutes after the bloody murder, the Chechen perpetrator posted on Twitter an image of Paty’s severed head and a threatening message.

photo: Politics Today

Social Media.

Social media differs from conventional media in many aspects, such as interactivity, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy, and permanence. Unlike traditional media, social media enables anyone to publish or access information. It is important. New communication technologies, such as comparatively cheap and accessible mobile and web-based networks, create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify content. With social media, information consumers also act as communicators. This two-way communication promotes the creation of small, diffused sets of communicators and groups. Virtual communities using social media are trendy all over the world, especially among younger demographics.[1]

Social media use around the world (source: DataReportal)
Number of global social media users (source: DataReportal)

Terrorism in the 21st century.

Today the terrorist threat looks much more complex and different than it did right before 9/11. So revisiting the approach on the prevention of terrorism must be met by the support of governments both legally and financially. After 9/11, for example, the U.S. counterterrorism community has drastically ramped up its intelligence capabilities.[3] Since the year 2001, very few themes have shaped the global discourse as much as terrorism. Following the 9/11 attacks in the USA, on September 20, 2001, George W. Bush declared a “War on Terror” and sent America to war with Al-Qaeda. In 2019, Afghanistan, Syria, and India were reporting the highest number of terrorist attacks nationally. Overall, 2019 saw just over 8,300 terrorist attacks globally and around 25,000 fatalities from terrorism.[4]

Terrorism and social media.

Technology has always been an essential factor in how wars are fought and won. The nature of wars today is more terroristic and decentralized. In the past, the most important driving factor of technological advances influencing warfare was the increase in firepower, but others also played a key role. Transportation technologies have led to the geographical decentralization of battles. Helicopters and airplanes, for example, have made it possible for troops to be deployed quickly in other countries. The Air Force and satellites led to high-resolution surveillance of the battlefield. GPS and drones make it possible to launch a precise attack in different regions of the world, even from a computer. And these tendencies are what we see in today’s terrorism or counter-terrorism.[5]

  1. Social media channels are user-friendly and free.
  2. Social networking makes it possible to terrorists to reach out to their target audiences and virtually “knock on their doors”.[8]
  3. The fundamental objective of terrorists is to create general fear in people. Using social media can help them with this. Unfortunatelly.


All in all, social media has become a viral media platform for everyday use by users. But, as we have seen, terrorists have also expanded their activities in the digital space, preferring to use various social media platforms. There are 4.20 billion social media users all around the world today, and their numbers are growing. This growth has been 13 % over the past year. These facts and figures are a challenge mainly for social media companies and counter-terrorism services.

international relations analyst