Slow Down on the Tweets After Terror Attacks

Social media gives terrorists the publicity they crave: Emily Dreyfuss for 'Wired'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2017 11:45 AM CDT
Your Tweets on Terror Attacks Could Make Things Worse
Armed police officers patrol a police cordon near the Manchester Arena in Manchester on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

After the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert on Monday, thousands turned to social media to share information and offer their condolences. In doing so, they played right into the terrorists' hands, Emily Dreyfuss writes at Wired. At least one aim of attacks like the one in Manchester, England, is publicity, Dreyfuss writes, and though terrorists once had to rely on mainstream media outlets to get it, that's no longer the case. "In the age of Facebook and Twitter, everyone's the media" and terrorists find attention "with unprecedented breadth," she writes. Such attention can not only traumatize victims and their families, she adds, but also turn terrorists into martyrs and inspire more terrorism.

A study published in April, for example, found mainstream media references to al-Qaeda were linked to the likelihood of a near-future attack. Professional media aren't blameless here, but social media offers added dangers, Dreyfuss writes: Amid the chaos, misinformation is easily spread online, as was the case on Monday, and has the potential to confuse authorities. So how does one respond responsibly? By keeping in mind that terrorists want their crimes publicized and by sharing only information that serves a purpose and comes from credible sources, an expert says. If in doubt, "turn away from the digital world and talk to someone in real life," Dreyfuss writes. Read her piece in full here. (Another perspective on the attack here.)

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