From Television to Twitter: the changing role of the media in terrorism and its implications
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Terrorism is a form of communication and therefore a medium to convey the message is crucial for the success of an act of terrorism. In the seventies, satellite television became available for the public and television networks were able to cover events live from all over the world. Because bad news is good news from a commercial point of view, television networks kept an eye out for violent and dramatic news items. Terrorists quickly stepped in to supply this eager demand of television networks. Communication and terrorism experts of whom some saw television as an ideal tool for terrorists regarded this symbiotic relationship between the media and terrorists with suspicion. However, during the nineties, a new medium emerged: the internet, and terrorist organisations immediately saw new opportunities to use the next invention of the West against themselves. After the turn of the century the internet became an interactive medium that allowed multiple forms of communication through the use of social media and again, terrorists adapted quickly to these technological innovations to exert mass psychological impact on the biggest possible audience. Terrorism now seems to be more a theatre than ever because of the versatility of uses the internet and social media platforms offer. Terrorists are known to adapt to the newest technological developments and to immediately use them against their adversaries. Countering these terrorist efforts is difficult because in both the case of television and in the case of social media, government censorship is undesirable while self-restraint by the media is unlikely. This thesis examines the changing role of the media in terrorism between the time of satellite television in the seventies and eighties and social media now and the implications that this changing role has on the media, on society and on counterterrorism efforts.