The 2019 terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand shocked the world as a lone gunman claimed the lives of more than fifty Muslin men, women, and children. As the nation grieved and security experts searched for answers, old notions of how and why terrorism occurs began to crumble. It became clear that this attack, perpetrated by a white supremacist, was born of and carried out for a new digital age. What set this terror attack apart was the centrality of social media to the radicalization and motivation of the lone assailant. In light of this development, this paper evaluates the current literature on how individuals are recruited and radicalized to join terror organizations or movements and why they are ultimately willing to commit violent acts of terror. The author then hypothesizes that the Christchurch shooting challenges prevailing notions of the radicalization process and introduces social media as an entirely new factor that must be considered outside of traditional counterterrorism thought. Finally, consideration and recommendations are made for how governments, social media companies, and society as a whole should consider and respond to these revelations about the impact of social media on the future of terrorism.
Grasz, Jackson T.
"Tweeting Terror: Evaluating Changes to the Terror Recruitment and Radicalization Process in the Age of Social Media,"
Pepperdine Policy Review: Vol. 13, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/ppr/vol13/iss1/4