A hand touching a smartphone screen at night.  How terrorist groups use social media, and how this can be countered, is the focus of a major international conference in Swansea

How terrorist groups use social media, and how this can be countered, is the focus of a major international conference in Swansea, which brings together researchers, practitioners and representatives from governments and major tech companies around the world.

Organised by the University’s Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law, the TASM conference – which takes place on 28 and 29 June - draws around 200 delegates from 20 countries.

What is most significant about the event is the unparalleled breadth of expertise from different sectors and countries that it attracts.

Representatives from national governments and law enforcement from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, US and New Zealand, and tech companies including Meta, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, will be alongside academic experts from around the world and members of the United Nations Development Programme, NGOs and grassroots anti-extremism practitioners from countries such as Nigeria, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

To ensure that sharing international learning is at the heart of the event, the University has helped support the attendance of delegates from countries in the Global South.

Subjects covered include:

• Extremism and the Covid pandemic
• US elections and the far right
• Video-gaming and violent extremism
• Terrorist use of emerging technologies (eg cryptocurrency, crowdfunding)

Find out more about the conference

The first day of the conference focuses on terrorists’ use of social media. For example, how different platforms are used by terrorist groups and sympathizers; the tactics and strategies used to disseminate propaganda online; and the effect of a terrorist attack on extremists’ social media posts.

How to respond to the threat is the subject of day two. Experts will compare different forms of response and different jurisdictions and cultures and discuss how effective and transparent tech companies are being in their efforts to regulate their platforms and services.

Headline speakers include:

• From Meta, the company which includes Facebook and Instagram, the Head of Counterterrorism and Dangerous Organizations Policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
• YouTube's Product Public Policy lead, who advises the company on issues relating to online content regulation.
• Twitter’s Global Policy Area Lead for Violent Organizations
• The UK’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation

Meghan Conroy, an Investigator with the US House of Representatives and Chief-of-Staff for the Accelerationism Research Consortium, said:

"I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the work being showcased at TASM 2022. The presenters have come together from across diverse regions, sectors, and disciplines, and I can assure you that policymakers are paying close attention to the cutting-edge methods and insights that TASM's presenters are bringing to bear".

Dina Hussein of Meta, Head of Counterterrorism and Dangerous Organizations Policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said:

“TASM is always on my calendar. The conference is uniquely placed to bring together tech, in-field experts and academics to engage in a constructive discussion. Having been a participant in this forum for many years, I have had the pleasure of seeing it evolve and grow its community. I look forward to engaging with the excellent line-up of topics being presented this year.”

Janeen Fernando, who works for the United Nations in Sri Lanka, said:

“Patterns of dangerous speech online show cross-border influences and are disseminated via global platforms. Solutions need to be grounded in context, but the nature of the challenge means they will not be found solely within national borders. It requires collaboration of a range of partners to educate, innovate, and generate accountability for safer online spaces.”

Lisa McInerney, Twitter’s Global Policy Area Lead for Violent Organizations, said:

“TASM is a 'must do' event for anyone professionally tasked to focus upon terrorism and violent extremism as it plays out online. This gathering of stakeholders provides us all with the opportunity to engage with high quality cutting-edge research that's not yet published, and highlights trends observed that can support us in horizon scanning. The diversity of perspectives at TASM allows us to re-examine our views and adjust to the ever-changing terrorism landscape”.

The conference is being organised by the Cyber Threats Research Centre, based at Swansea University’s School of Law, and by VOX Pol, which the University is now co-ordinating.

 

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