It’s a nugget tucked away in just about every story about specific Middle Eastern terror attacks. How “successful” terror groups are using social media to recruit and “radicalize” youth. Tucked away, but salt in a wound of countries and people who have fought desperately not only for the right to exist but the right to live free. A right infringed every day by murderers.
Social Media Tracking
In that context, there’s no doubt social media companies should do something to track, monitor, and limit the reach of radicals on media sites that are supposed to connect and create community, not collusion and crime.
A recent story in the Associated Press highlighted this knife’s edge tipping point between freedom and security online.
The story begins with a brief anecdote about Dareen Tatour, an Arab citizen of Israel who posted a poem detailing her “frustration over spiking violence” in Israel. Not long after she clicked “post” police were at her door, arresting her on the charge of inciting violence through social media.
Tatour is just one of many citizens of Israel detained as the nation struggles to find the proper way to deal with the very real consequences of hate on social media. Lawmakers in Israel are looking into legislation that would attempt to limit content on social media.
Cue the critics who cry “too far” … as well as those who, inspired by images of heartache and escalating violence, cry out “not far enough. As we said, it’s a razor’s edge, and next to impossible to get “right.” Forget trying to make everyone happy. This is one of those times where you have to settle for making pretty much nobody happy.
But that’s the PR problem here. One man’s “cry for help” is another’s terror incitement. With little to no black and white line on the nature and intent of expression, it’s tough to define what does and does not constitute “incitement”. Remember, Charlie Manson said he was inspired to incite a race war by a Beatles pop song. So, no, you can’t necessarily account for crazy, but you can draw lines that could keep “regular” folks from tipping over the edge.
Why is Tatour a prime example of this message confusion? She says her “poem” was an expression of “frustration with violence,” but the cops say she was inciting the very violence she says she hates. Here’s a line from the poem.
“Resist, my people, resist them … And follow the caravan of martyrs.”
You decide, is it incitement or a cry for help? Think it through and you’ll understand what lawmakers are up against, both in a public relations and a legal sense.