This article investigates whether a relationship exists between the number of fatalities caused by a terrorist group and the number of websites returned via the Google search engine when a search for the group is conducted. It is hypothesized that search engines’ algorithms facilitate such an association, and search engines’ role as the Web's “gatekeeper.” Much attention has been paid to understanding the role the news media, particularly television, has within a terrorist's campaign. Today, terrorism is understood as being partly theater—carefully choreographed events created not solely to kill, but to capture transnational television screens, and arouse a heightened state of public apprehension, and achieve a terrorist group's psychological devastation goal. This article questions whether such offline terrorist violence has a similar agenda-setting function online.
Asal, Victor, and Paul G. Harwood. 2008. "Search Engines: Terrorism's Killer App." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism (July): 641-654. http://pdfserve.informaworld.com/90746_731196578_794421069.pdf