Terrorism and Mass Communication: Nitro to the Net

Terrorists do not limit themselves to traditional means of communication; they increasingly employ new media.

The World Today Published 1 August 2004 Updated 19 October 2020 5 minute READ

Maura Conway

Doctoral candidate in political science, Trinity College, Dublin

Today’s terrorists, like those of yesteryear, are keen to exploit mass media, particularly the internet, while also recognising the value of more direct non-verbal communication channels – propaganda by deed.

For decades the media has been considered significant in cultural and political transformation. The internet is daily heralded as a new media technology of enormous and increasing importance; it is the first many-to-many communication system and the instrument of a political power shift.

The ability to communicate words, images and sounds, which underlies the power to persuade, inform, witness, debate and discuss – not to mention the power to slander, propagandise, disseminate bad or misleading information, and engage in misinformation and disinformation – is no longer the sole province of those who own or control printing presses, radio stations or television networks.

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