Social media threats have become a very serious problem in the world today ranging from threats aimed at schools to terrorist activity on social networks, and threat detection capabilities are continually improving. However, being able to discover threats is only one part of the equation.
Answer this: What good is having a 9-1-1 number so people can report emergencies, such as a fire, if there’s no fire department to respond and extinguish the blaze? Similarly, how effective are social media threat assessment tools without the ability to proactively counter and suppress threats? In essence, extinguish a digital blaze that could be just as harmful as a real fire.
As we covered in a previous article, titled “Social Media’s Role in Organizing Youths, Sparking Violence in Baltimore,” the riots that erupted in Baltimore became violent after students from nearby schools organized a “Purge” on social media and descended on the Mondawmin Mall when class ended for the day. Law enforcement personnel were aware of the chatter but had no way to halt the snowball effect.
Looking at ISIS, we have the ability to detect pro-ISIS propaganda and related accounts on a wide variety of social platforms, but what next? Identifying activity is one step and actively suppressing such activity is a different animal altogether.
Security and law enforcement personnel must understand that yes, threat assessment technologies are critical, though having the knowledge and expertise to counter threats before they have the opportunity to go viral is another part of the equation. The more threats are seen the more they’re shared, and monitoring efforts exponentially become more difficult. And as history shows, copycat threats occur.
Even worse, threats that come in the form of terrorist propaganda and are left to marinate cause more damage every second that goes by. For example, a pro-ISIS video on YouTube that makes the group appear very Rambo-esque and garners over a thousand views within one week and a disproportionate number of likes to dislikes.
Organizations of all types must have a clear understanding of the types of threats they may face and have contingency plans in place. The best defense is a strong offense, and that means not only having the ability to detect and assess potential threats on social media, but also the power to bury them.