Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs) have posed security challenges for decades. However, in the modern era, with the advent of more lethal weapons, global mobility, and improved communication methods (e.g., open social media), the span and impact of these groups grows from regional to worldwide via their online brand (Ligon, Harms, & Derrick, 2015). Thus, these cyber technologies have increased VEO lethality and messaging reach (Derrick, Sporer, Church, & Ligon, 2017) and are becoming an ever-increasing part of the portfolios of VEOs (Denning, 2010). Historically, access to resources allows wealthier nation-states and other large organizations to build and maintain infrastructures in comparison to their smaller, less prosperous counterparts. With the advent of participatory internet technologies and the promulgation of open and free internet architectures, however, less technical infrastructure is required for smaller or resource-poor organizations to communicate and conduct operations. While digitalization initially acted as a supply driver of this phenomenon, the advent of ‘digital natives’ (generally speaking, those born after 1980) reversed the equation and the move to ubiquitous online presence and content has become a demand-led necessity for groups communicating online (Niemeyer, Hall, & Weinhardt, 2016). This new paradigm of highly connected, low-cost communication technologies has simultaneously offered such organizations access to resources that further benevolent or malicious goals (Derrick et al., 2017). Terrorist groups use these technologies in a variety of ways, such as group decision-making, cyber facilitated financing, recruitment, enabled (remote-control) attacks, and propaganda dissemination (Derrick, Ligon, Harms, & Mahoney, 2017).
Hall, Margaret, Gina Ligon, and Clara Braun. 2018. "Digital Participation Roles of the Global Jihad: Social Media’s Role in Bringing Together Vulnerable Individuals and VEO Content." SMA White Paper (March). https://nsiteam.com/what-do-others-think-and-how-do-we-know-what-they-are-thinking/