Social Media as a Tool of Destruction?

December 4th, 2015

In the wake of this week’s San Bernadino shootings there are many remaining questions. Was this an act of interoffice violence, terrorism or both? Pundits seem to be all over the map on this one. Apparently the main shooter was attending the office Christmas party cum bloodbath and left, only to return with his wife and a small arsenal. The rest is history.

In and among discussions on this latest nightmare featured on the local news last night, there was a deduction made that caught me completely off guard and sidetracked the on-air discussion. The corollary introduced outlined how social media has enabled radicalism to grow and thrive within the United States in a way that was never possible before. They postured that prior to the advent of social media, terrorists had to be hand trained and nurtured in an environment that supported the bloody end game. Not any more. There is now a strong belief, even a certainty that access to social media has revolutionized the instruction and maintenance of “terrorists in training.”

I don’t know if these “experts” have it right. But I do know that my former belief that the greatest evil of social media was the potential to damage the reputation of organizations or persons undeservedly, enable potential stalkers to spook potential victims or just make folks face issues they would prefer to avoid, is seriously naive. And if there is a shred of truth to their hypothesis, we need to take a serious look at the tools we are providing to make the work of radicalists far easier and more productive.

And finally, can this barn door be closed if the horse is already out?