The Connection Between Terrorism and Social Network Systems

An interesting article written by Mirta Galesic discusses how radicalism is closely intertwined with the basic fundamentals of network science. Terrorism is becoming a growing problem in today’s modern society. Naturally, with any problem comes those who try to find the source of it. Researchers who work within the field of social science have decided to take a closer look at terrorism and how social networking can influence the growing rate of extremism that exists in today’s world. In particular, they use complexity science to exemplify how social-cognitive processes essentially mold the way the world is perceived by others. After examining these processes, we can conclude that the first step to ending terrorism is to understand how the individuals involved are affected and influenced by the role of social networks.

It is important to highlight that human beings are often defined by the people that they choose to surround themselves with. This theory, formally known as homophily, explains how others can impact a person’s global perception, beliefs, and behaviors. This article uses three social-cognitive processes that not only demonstrate homophily but also provide the reader with an explanation for the increasing threat of terrorism. The first process is called social sampling. Social sampling occurs when a network presents a myriad of different theories and ideas to one of its users. The conveyance of some of these new concepts may prove to be more dangerous than others. However, social sampling serves as one of the factors to the emergence of radicalism. Belief updating is a second process that acts in the same way. This process depends on how strongly one stands firm to their beliefs. It plays the biggest role when people abandon their belief system to adopt one that was introduced to them through a social network. The final process is known as network updating, which usually occurs as a result of belief updating. When a person conforms to an idea they heard of through a network, the person and their circle of friends becomes more homogenous, isolating and ignoring those who do not share the same ideals. These phenomena occur until their effects are prominent over a widespread area.

After listing and discussing these main ideas, the article goes on to suggest solutions to the ongoing issue. Since processes such as social sampling, belief updating, and network updating are products of thousands of years of human evolution, eradicating them completely would be counterproductive. Instead, researchers believe that changing the content and experiences of the lives of the those affected by these processes would prove to change their outlook on many crucial concepts that contribute to terrorism. At the same time, we are becoming more understanding of how these individuals are influenced by social networks, and we become one step closer to ending the threat of terrorism.