Hinckley Panel to Discuss Terrorism and Social Media

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(Photo by Chris Samuels)

By Kylee Ehmann

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(Photo by Chris Samuels)
(Photo by Chris Samuels)

Videos of beheadings, Charlie Hebdo, Boko Haram and the recent terrorist attacks in Denmark — the year has barely begun, and major stories about terrorism attacks around the world have permeated the media.

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The Hinckley Institute of Politics will host the panel “Terrorism and Today’s Media: Roles, Responsibilities and the Changing Dynamics of Reporting a War on Terror.” The forum will analyze the ethical complications of covering terrorist attacks. In addition to talking about the media’s role in terrorism, the panel will also focus on how organizations like ISIS utilize social media to recruit and spread their message.

Montana Martinez, a senior in political science, said he feels students who are not involved with politics or the media should attend.

“Even if you come just for the pizza, you will learn a lot about a topic that is rarely talked about,” Martinez said “Anyone who watches the news or reads articles is affected.”

Martinez said he hopes the panel addresses how mainstream media advances the goals of terrorists organizations and if it lends validity to their actions.

Amos Guiora, a panelist and professor at the U’s College of Law, said he feels this panel is important because he believes terrorists have a sophisticated understanding of social media and students should learn about their tactics.

“When I was involved in counterterrorism in the mid-’80s to 10 years ago, there was no social media,” Guiora said, “Now [it’s] a platform that’s evolving literally daily.”

Guiora said a likely topic discussed at the forum will be whether there should be limits on what can be posted about terrorism online. Guiora said while he is not in favor of censorship, it’s important to be aware of the darker sides of social media use.

“Whether students agree or disagree is irrelevant,” Guiora said, “The important thing is that they’re engaged, and then they can draw their own conclusions.”

Bill Warren, chief marketing and communications officer at the U, will also be a panelist alongside Guiora. Director of the Hinckley Institute Kirk Jowers will moderate the event today from noon to 1 p.m. in OSH 253.

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