New Media and Terrorism

New Media and Terrorism

Pauline Hope Cheong (Arizona State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5776-2.ch013
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Abstract

Beyond the widespread coverage of terrorism-related stories on international news outlets, we are witnessing the swift spread of alternative interpretations of these stories online. These alternative narratives typically involve digital transmediation or the remix, remediation, and viral dissemination of textual, audio, and video material on multiple new and social media platforms. This chapter discusses the role of new(er) media in facilitating the transmediated spread of extremist narratives, rumors, and political parody. Drawing from recent case studies based upon multi-modal analyses of digital texts on social media networks, including blogs, vlogs, Twitter, and Jihadist sites associated with acts of terror in Asia, Middle East, and North America, the chapter illustrates how digital transmediation significantly works oftentimes to construct counter narratives to government counter insurgency operations and mainstream media presentations. In discussing these examples, the chapter demonstrates how the new media points to varied narratives and reifies notions of national security, global politics, terrorism, and the media's role in framing the “War on Terrorism.” Moreover, a critical examination of remix texts and digital mashups of popular artifacts inform a Web 2.0 understanding of how the creative communication practices of online prosumers (hybrid consumers and producers) contest dominant interests in the online ideological battlefield for hearts and minds.
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Understanding The Digital Transmediation Of Terrorism: (Re)Presentations In Convergent New And Social Media

As the meaning of “truth” is often a key feature of hegemonic struggles, one cardinal dimension in the relationship between new media and terrorism concerns the processes whereby individual and cultural “truth perspectives” may distort veracity, reinforce stigma, and amplify negative stories and images associated with insurgency and counter insurgency operators. In light of the fluorescence of web-enabled technologies, it is important to examine rumors (Sunstein, 2009), particularly how the digital rumor mill functions. That is, in this context, how rumors are created and spread online, by publics linked to the informational war related to terrorism. In many ways, rumors are integrally woven into the fabric of the alleged global war on terror. They reveal information about the narrative landscape, including the expression of social anxieties and the “mentality of the group in which it circulates” (Ellis & Haar, 2004, p. 36). They also help fill knowledge gaps in the wake of a situation of uncertainty and ambiguity (DiFonzo & Prashant, 2007), including the mayhem after a terrorist event.

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