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[liberationtech] Why Al-Qaida Hates the Internet: Trust Problems on Jihadi Discussion Forums

Yosem Companys companys at stanford.edu
Tue Jan 22 10:27:42 PST 2013


Why Al-Qaida Hates the Internet: Trust Problems on Jihadi Discussion
Forums
*CISAC Social Science Seminar*

DATE AND TIME
January 24, 2013
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

AVAILABILITY
Open to the public
No RSVP required


SPEAKER
Thomas Hegghammer <http://fsi.stanford.edu/people/thomas_hegghammer/> -
Zukerman Fellow at CISAC

 The trust problem limits what rebels can do online. The scarcity of
non-verbal cues in digital communication facilitates deceptive mimicry,
which undermines the interpersonal trust required for sensitive
transactions. Open-source data from jihadi discussion forums show that
distrust there is very high and direct recruitment rare. General trust also
declined during the observation period (2006-2011). As of 2012, forums are
still in use, but primarily for low-stake activities such as
propaganda-sharing and ideological debate. Confidence in the authenticity
of propaganda remains relatively high, due to vetting institutions and
hard-to-fake video formats. A modicum of interpersonal trust also remains,
thanks to reputation systems and a few relatively reliable signs of
trustworthiness involving time expenditure. The trust problem is an
Achilles’ heel for terrorists online – but probably also for pro-democracy
activists in authoritarian settings.

LOCATION
CISAC Conference Room
Encina Hall Central, 2nd floor
616 Serra St.
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305
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