State Department Proposes "Trolling" Web-Based Islamic Extremists

Hevva

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State Department Proposes "Trolling" Web-Based Islamic Extremists



The Viral Peace program is out to make the internet uninhabitable for Islamic extremists.

In years gone by, Islamic extremists and would-be terrorists would communicate with one another using tangible means: they'd exchange cassette or video tapes of their leaders' rousing speeches, for example, or hoard secret pamphlets laced with just the right kind of rhetoric. Back then, the best way to nip their violent dreams in the bud was to seize their contraband; but now that terrorists are increasingly communicating and recruiting using the internet, what can we do to turn them away from the not-so-straight path of extremism? According to the State Department, the solution might be to prod them into moderate thinking by politely trolling their internet spaces.

Led by Shahed Amanullah, a senior technology advisor to the State Department, the Viral Peace nicely-troll-an-extremist program will aim to disrupt the virtual spaces most frequently occupied by would-be terrorists and Islamic extremists. Amanullah wants to train young Muslims from across the Islamic world to use "logic, humor, satire, [and] religious arguments, not just to confront [extremists], but to undermine and demoralize them" on forums, Facebook, and Twitter.

"[Jihadis have] an energy, they've got a vitality that frankly attracts some of these at-risk people," said Amanullah. "It appeals to macho, it appeals to people's rebellious nature, it appeals to people who feel downtrodden." If the Viral Peace internet hunters can rebuff the extremists' arguments using both political logic and the words of the Holy Qu'ran (especially those parts about how there's seriously no excuse [http://islam.about.com/od/terrorism/f/terrorism_verse.htm] for murdering a non-combatant who hasn't actually done anything to you), they could make the extremists' ideas seem less appealing to vulnerable targets, at the same time as perhaps re-aligning the views of the extremists themselves.

"I come from Silicon Valley, from the start-up environment," added Amanullah. "I want to prove you can do small, inexpensive, high-impact projects that don't just talk about the problem but solve the problem. And solve it the right way: not with the government's heavy hand but by empowering local people to do what they already know to do but don't know how."

According to online jihad specialist Jarret Brachmann, the idea could genuinely work. According to him, forum-based extremists "keep the momentum, the anger and the virulence going in forums, and they have a disproportionate impact...so if you can get rid of them, it'll pay dividends."

Though the Viral Peace internet-scourers will likely face trouble in the form of tetchy admins and quick removal from highly conservative sites, they could find themselves welcomed in more moderate spaces, according to specialists on the topic.

When (and if) it lifts off, Viral Peace will very much be in the hands of the young Muslims who wish to participate, rather than the State Department itself. While the Department will provide advice on strategy, it's up to the Viral Peace activists themselves to decide how best to approach the problem in their own countries. Last month saw the first raft of Viral Peace meetings across nations including Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, where the activists identified the central problems behind extremism in their countries (with poverty, injustice, and inequality identified as the main issues) before going over materials designed to help train them in how to diffuse extremist anger online.

For the moment, the young people involved in Viral Peace are keeping in touch via their Twitter account [http://www.facebook.com/viralpeace]. It'll be interesting to see how their project, with advice from techies at the State Department, will develop; can directed, organized and educated trolling really be used as an effective tool against extremism? Here's to hoping so.


Source: Wired [http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/07/counterterrorism-trolls/3/]
















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Clearing the Eye

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This entire thing is almost too dumb for public consumption. I'm afraid people will read this and die from an overload of stupid.
 

LZeroK

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I've heard stupid and moronic ideas in my time, guess what is this one?

Lowering to their level and giving them ammunition... Seems legit...
 

mfeff

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Shahed Amanullah, a senior technology advisor to the State Department, the Viral Peace nicely-troll-an-extremist program will aim to disrupt the virtual spaces most frequently occupied by would-be terrorists and Islamic extremists. Amanullah wants to train young Muslims from across the Islamic world to use "logic, humor, satire, [and] religious arguments, not just to confront [extremists], but to undermine and demoralize them" on forums, Facebook, and Twitter.
Since when did employing logic, humor, satire [and] religious arguments undermine and demoralize anyone? What an asshole.

This guy sounds like a guerrilla marketeer used to sending in waves of poorly educated phone whores into forums to diffuse trash like... I dunno... Bioware incompetence. Secondly this particular tactic is as sound as wearing hot pink camo as far as stratagem. Why in the hell would someone advertise the fact that they were about to initiate this program in public circles? It's only a ruse as long as no one talks about it.

Though the Viral Peace internet-scourers will likely face trouble in the form of tetchy admins and quick removal from highly conservative sites, they could find themselves welcomed in more moderate spaces, according to specialists on the topic.
Don't have to be a specialist to know that the best way to keep a secret is to keep it a secret.

Just another waste of time and resources on the war on error'. Nice job.
 

Xanthious

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They should recruit Boxxy! Boxxy vs Islamic Extremists . . . . I'd pay to watch that.
 

Kargathia

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Clearing the Eye said:
This entire thing is almost too dumb for public consumption. I'm afraid people will read this and die from an overload of stupid.
And yet it probably is one of the better anti-terrorism ideas out there. Which is extremely depressing - or downright hilarious, depending on your sense of humour.

WanderingFool said:
Why dont they just ask 4chan to troll the Islamic radicals?
Don't know about you, but I find 4chan trolling an excellent argument as to why you should strap c4 to your chest, and detonate.
 

MASTACHIEFPWN

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Am I the only one that sees the people hired to do this kind of stuff tracked down and killed? Especially if it's like facebook. Hopefully they give them all fake profile pictures... or just group profile pictures- Those things are annoying as fuck. Are you so ugly that you need to blend with 15 other faces to make yourself look normal?
 

bafrali

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Allthingsspectacular said:
Why Islamic extremists specifically and not just extremists in general?
Actually that is a very good point. But i would assume that they are short on man-power
 

Clearing the Eye

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Allthingsspectacular said:
Why Islamic extremists specifically and not just extremists in general?
Because Muslim is a dirty word now. While I support treating the beliefs of the religious as nothing short of laughable, the racism and propaganda that's sprung up since the U.S. got bitten by the dog it had been kicking since the 80's is pretty sickening.

Kargathia said:
Clearing the Eye said:
This entire thing is almost too dumb for public consumption. I'm afraid people will read this and die from an overload of stupid.
And yet it probably is one of the better anti-terrorism ideas out there. Which is extremely depressing - or downright hilarious, depending on your sense of humour.

WanderingFool said:
Why dont they just ask 4chan to troll the Islamic radicals?
Don't know about you, but I find 4chan trolling an excellent argument as to why you should strap c4 to your chest, and detonate.
I went to 4chan once. Almost blew up a local hospital. Shit does things to you, man. Bad things.... I've seen... stuff... *quietly sobs*
 

MasterJuice

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What's with all the hate? This is one of the best anti-terrorism ideas that I've heard. Although they probably shouldn't have called it "trolling", since that's not what they're doing... more like infiltration.
 

Clearing the Eye

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Xanthious said:
They should recruit Boxxy! Boxxy vs Islamic Extremists . . . . I'd pay to watch that.
She's so very hot. In a strange way. A cute, strange way. A cute, strange, crazy meth addict kind of way.
 

Hevva

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Clearing the Eye said:
Allthingsspectacular said:
Why Islamic extremists specifically and not just extremists in general?
Because Muslim is a dirty word now. While I support treating the beliefs of the religious as nothing short of laughable, the racism and propaganda that's sprung up since the U.S. got bitten by the dog it had been kicking since the 80's is pretty sickening.

While I agree that the treatment of Muslims in the media has been awful for past few decades, I'd argue that the government is going after Islamic terrorism with this specifically for two reasons: The first being that the ideology behind anti-Western Islamic terrorism has the potential to be genuinely dangerous at the moment, and the second being that the world is full of young, tech-savvy Muslims who're keen to help put a stop to it. Helping them to mobilize is cost-effective and relatively straightfoward.
 

Worgen

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Whatever, just wash your hands.
This looks like a job for Trollestia.
 

Musicfreak

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I'm not sure why people are saying this is a bad idea. One of the best ways to combat extremism has always been to use satire to show just how ridiculous and well...extreme such views are.