19th Jul 2012 10:40am | By Sarah Kuranda
What is the newest weapon for combating terrorism? Trolling.
Viral Peace is a new US State Department anti-terror initiative aiming to discourage youth from becoming terrorists through the Internet.
Created by Shahed Amanullah, a senior technology advisor to the State Department, the program plans to invade forums and other online mediums to stall Al-Qaida’s growing presence online as it has been forced to go underground.
For the most part, the current White House anti-terrorism strategy ignores the Internet. Viral Peace would compromise an almost negligible portion of the over $100 billion that the US spends on the war in Afghanistan every year.
Amanullah said to Danger Room that the plan centres on using “logic, humor, satire, [and] religious arguments, not just to confront [extremists], but to undermine and demoralize them.”
Password-protected forums like the Shumukh site, where extremists debate jihadist theory and discuss their ideal assassination plans, would be infiltrated under the program.
However, more popular sites like Shumukh also post a major obstacle to the program. Administrators on the extremist sites may simply immediately remove any posts by the anti-terrorist trolls.
In the end, though, this plan for strategic trolling does not have any plan for moving forward, nor does it plan on developing one. Viral Peace depends on the locally recruited trained trolls, who will ultimately dictate the course of the entire operation.
Image via Getty
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