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Social media actors in the fight against terrorism: technology and its impact on human rights

Tsvetelina van Benthem

Keywords: social media actors; terrorist content; freedom of expression; online platforms; algorithmic manipulation

Terrorist propaganda spreads like a pandemic across online platforms. In this volatile climate, control over social media is increasingly seen as a determinant bastion of power by both terrorist groups seeking to exploit the ubiquity of internet platforms and states aiming to impose restrictions on content disseminated online. Social media actors are gradually taking centre stage in the fight against terrorism as they attempt to curb incitement to violence in its evolving manifestations via sophisticated algorithms. While such measures are necessary for the protection of the general population's right to life and security of the person, these measures carry inherent risks of over-caution and threaten freedom of expression – a core right in democratic societies. This article argues that, notwithstanding the risks in granting quasi-judicial functions to online intermediaries, they should be employed as a carefully tailored tool to secure protection against arbitrary domestic measures, particularly in the fight against terrorism.

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