’Banning social media disaster for any government’s global image’

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Professor Catherine A. Luther, associate dean of the College of Communication and Information at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, said that governments banning public platforms is “problematic.”
“Any government banning social media platforms will [have an image that will] be damaged,” she said.

The keynote speaker at the “3rd International Conference on Conflict, Terrorism and Society” at Kadir Has University, Luther spoke to Today’s Zaman about bans on social media and the government. She said governments banning public platforms targets the freedom of information and that governments have to support the public’s democratic desires. “Social media platforms are for entertainment [as well as] the exchange of information and politics,” she said.
When asked if any government could dare ban these kinds of social media platforms, she said that any government could totally do it, but it would be a disaster for its world image and for public opinion.

“We can understand [some of] the governments’ concerns, but they [should] never ban people [from accessing] information,” she said.

The UTK professor said monitoring people’s exchange of information is not an act of a modern state. She emphasized that governments can agree with social media corporations and claims that these corporations base their decisions on economic interests, and they want to make money. So, they will never ignore attempts to conciliate.

When asked if social media platforms are a threat to state security, she answered that it depends on how you look at the issue. “Maybe some organizations or groups are threatening security, but banning social media is not a way to fight with them,” she said.
Luther, in her Wednesday afternoon keynote speech, “National Security, Surveillance Technology and Privacy,” said that any bans on social media are made with the intention of cutting access to information.

Under the subtitle “New Media Politics: Conflict, Activism and Security,” the conference Luther spoke at was held from April 15-16.

Many scholars from around the world gave presentations on terrorism and social media at the conference.
Dr. Pantelis Vatikiotis from the Izmir University of Economics claimed that the world is witnessing a radical transformation with the structure of networks, the transformation of orientation and the extremely violent tactics used by actorsgroups involved in terrorism since the mid-1990s.
According to Vatikiotis, politicians employ the same rhetoric to justify repressive practices and radical changes as the tradeoff of civil liberties for security.

In his presentation, Lt. Col. Robert A. Albino of the US Army Europe pointed out the IranianLebanese diaspora’s link to transnational crimes. According to Albino, all over the world, especially in the US, Latin America, Asia and Africa, there are 15 million Lebanese people and 5 million Iranians living outside their homeland. He claims that in the last few decades, Iran has carried out many terrorist acts with the support of the Iranian diaspora in many countries. Albino believes that the diaspora has been used for disseminating propaganda as well as a pool for recruits and for smuggling.

Speaking at the conference, cyber jihadism scholar and University of Ottawa professor, Dr. Mahmoud Eid, said that new media technologies make terrorist organizations more efficient. He said cyber terrorism was born in the mid-1980s and even al-Qaeda used the Internet on 911.

(CihanToday’s Zaman)