Countering Threats: A Comprehensive Model for Utilization of Social Media for Security and Law Enforcement Authorities
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Margarita Jaitner: Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden
International Journal of Cyber Warfare and Terrorism (IJCWT), 2014, vol. 4, issue 2, 35-45
The increased adoption of social media has presented security and law enforcement authorities with significant new challenges. For example, the Swedish Security Service (SÃ„PO) asserts that a large proportion of radicalization takes place in open fora online. Still, approaches to contain social media-driven challenges to security, particularly in democratic societies, remain little explored. Nonetheless, this type of knowledge may become relevant in European countries in the near future: Amongst other factors, the challenging economic situation has resulted in increased public discontent leading to emergence or manifestation of groups that seek to challenge the existing policies by almost any means. Use of social media multiplies the number of vectors that need law enforcement attention. First, a high level of social media adaption allows groups to reach and attract a wider audience. Unlike previously, many groups today consist of a large but very loosely connected network. This lack of cohesion can present a challenge for authorities, to identify emerging key actors and assess threat levels. Second, a high level of mobile web penetration has allowed groups to ad-hoc organize, amend plans and redirect physical activities. Third, the tool social media is as not exclusive to potential perpetrators of unlawful action, but is as well available to law enforcement authorities. Yet, efficient utilization of social media requires a deep understanding of its nature and a well-crafted, comprehensive approach. Acknowledging the broad functionality of social media, as well as its current status in the society, this article describes a model process for security authorities and law enforcement work with social media in general and security services work in particular. The process is cyclic and largely modular. It provides a set of goals and tasks for each stage of a potential event, rather than fixed activities. This allows authorities to adapt the process to individual legal frameworks and organization setups. The approach behind the process is holistic where social media is regarded as both source and destination of information. Ultimately, the process aims at efficiently and effectively mitigating the risk of virtual and physical violence.
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