When we think of social media, our first thoughts are of connecting with friends, stalking colleagues, sharing memes or checking out the latest YouTube video that went viral.
In our own webs of selective social media activity, the broader impacts of this tool can be forgotten. However, this article makes you stop, think and realise the capacity it holds for destruction - but also positive change.
On the front end, influencers are using their powerful social media networks to talk about radicalisation and extremism - and counter the barrage of online extremist propaganda that is prevalent among so much of the London Muslim youth. On the back end, there is a huge surge being made by Silicon Valley business leaders to learn from Isis propaganda on a much broader scale, and counteract this barrage of influence that is reaching many.
The article reinforces the need for social media, and its ability to act as a powerful force of change. So much of the time we forget this, but if tech groups take the initiative to tackle the jihadi initiative, we can hope that this will - over time - diminish the exposure of extremist material and the actions of social media savvy terrorist groups.
Mr Arshad is one of a growing group of digital media stars who use YouTube videos, Facebook posts, tweets, photos and standup comedy to counter the barrage of extremist propaganda online — particularly from social media-savvy terrorist groups such as Isis. His YouTube series, which tackles issues facing Muslim youth in London, has been watched more than 73m times. One video, “I’m a Muslim, not a terrorist” has been screened in more than 100 schools around the UK by the police. Muslim content creators like Mr Arshad have been embraced by Google, Facebook and other tech companies, which have faced attacks from critics for what they see as their failure to effectively monitor and remove terrorist content. A report published in August by the UK parliament’s home affairs committee accused tech groups of “undermining” counter-terrorism investigations by refusing to hand over potential evidence. This embrace of so-called counter-speech goes beyond Silicon Valley: after seeing limited success with their own propaganda efforts, the US departments of justice and homeland security, the European Commission and the British government are all recruiting documentary filmmakers and university students to produce compelling, shareable content to battle the jihadi message. The US state department also this year launched the Global Engagement Center to counter Isis propaganda.