After the tragic mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Trump called on social media companies and local, state and federal agencies to “develop tools that detect mass shooters before they strike.”
The appeal mirrored those of the French and New Zealand prime ministers after the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand and Negombo, Sri Lanka. Both committed to ending the use of social media to promote terrorism.
Radicalization and the Internet
The rationale behind these efforts was straightforward. Recent attacks around the globe demonstrate the role social media and the Internet can play in helping people become radicalized, research and plan for mass violence, and as was the case of Christchurch, incite extremism by distributing images from an attack.
Research confirms the concerns. Between 2005 and 2016, social media played a role in the radicalization of nearly 70 percent of Islamist extremists and more than 40 percent of far-right extremists, according to a research brief by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. The study also found that more than 25 percent of Islamic extremists used social media to plan a domestic terror attack or travel to a foreign conflict zone.
Counter-Terrorism and the Internet
While the Internet has become a platform for extremists, it also provides opportunities to prevent and counter acts of terrorism. A United Nations report on The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes, found that a significant amount of knowledge about the activities of terrorist organizations can be found on the Internet, aiding in counter-terrorism efforts. Importantly, the report went on to say that increasingly sophisticated technologies are helping proactively prevent, detect and deter terrorist activity involving use of the Internet.
Enter the Critics
Despite these facts, critics point to what they say is technology’s inability to effectively monitor terrorist content online. Some cite the limited resources and expertise in law enforcement to manage and respond to digital evidence in real time. Others lament the
scale of data added to the Internet daily, and the associated challenges of detecting specific threats – the so-called needle in the haystack – in time to stop a planned attack.
The arguments aren’t new.
While tech companies highlight the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to help detect threat, at a hearing on global terrorism this summer, one person testified before the House Intelligence and Counterterrorism Subcommittee that with AI “there is much more artificial than intelligent.”
The Case for AI
The reasons behind mass shootings around the globe are multi-faceted, but not unsolvable.
And, while we agree with the critics that existing social media listening technologies are not adequate, we know that our AI-driven
Radiance platform is.
Radiance’s key differentiator is that it brings power of Open Source Intelligence (OS-INT), Internet Intelligence (NET-INT) and our See Something Say Something app (HUM-INT) for edge-to-edge risk detection. Radiance scours the web prioritizing current behaviors to predict future action.
We can find the needle in the haystack (quickly)
Our OS-INT component finds that needle in the haystack because it is continuously ingesting all open source data and filtering out all the “noise” with our proprietary behavioral affinity models (BAMs). These filters measure the data against terms and phrases associated with violent extremism, lone wolf attacks and other threats to global security.
It’s not what’s been posted. It’s what’s been read
What a person is reading on the Internet is exponentially more valuable in predicting future behavior than what they may post or react to online. NET-INT hunts the web, identifying, cataloguing and continuously monitoring IP addresses researching a full spectrum of risk-related content.
A 360-degree view
Other risk reporting apps operate in a vacuum. Information is sent to the authorities without context or insight. By integrating our See Something Say Something app with our OS-INT and NET-INT components, Radiance provides much clearer insights and more actionable intelligence to respond to the reported threat.