Senin , 29 May 2017, 19:47 WIB

Social Media as an Instrument of Deradicalization

Red: Agung Vazza
Republika/ Yasin Habibi
Ilustrasi Social Media
Ilustrasi Social Media

Byy: Wildan Nasution *)

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, Social media is becoming very popular and has a big impact on every individual and society. Almost all smartphone users use data connection services and have a number of social media accounts. Spectrum coverage and ease of use of social media to make mass communication facilities familiar in various layers of society as well as massive used for various purposes. This is what makes social media become very strategic for the interests of users either positive or negative.

Intensively individuals are exposed to various information through social media. In fact, communication through social media can provide individualized impressions. How the impact of information transmission through social media will depend largely on the messenger's expertise in constructing (encoding) information on one side, and on the other depending on the knowledge and experience framework of the individual or target community in decoding or parsing the information it receives.

For individuals and societies with limited knowledge and experience structures, the messages in social media are so intense as to hegemonize the mindset on certain actions effectively according to the interests of the communicator. Such a situation is analogous to the concept of the Hipodermic Needle where the physician and patient relationship are subordinate. This subordinate and one-way communication pattern creates a false awareness for the recipient of the message. The abundance of this information triggers the emotional and psychological unrest that is used to justify a particular action. 

Hegemony Instruments 

The world's problems today are confronted with how social media can turn into such a massive means of mass communication if not properly managed. NATO in its research has included social media as a weapon in hybrid war in addition to other conventional weapons. US Air Force sponsored research on social media which concluded it as "as a new strategic warfare" in 2012. This shows how strategic the function of social media in various Interests, including nonconventional wars. Through social media, an individual, a society, even a state can be mastered by its mindset.

This is also realized by radical groups and terrorists who use social media as a "weapon" in the war to win support and spread the acts of terror. The use of social media by radical groups has certain communication patterns to master the mindset and direct the behavior of the target. Approximately 30 thousand people from various countries joined ISIS after being affected by propaganda through the online network.

Actively, the administrators accounts of social media radical organizations target both random and selective targets for specific interests, such as recruitment, fundraising, or sympathizers. In this pattern, the transformation is not only related to radical concepts and ideologies, but also includes certain technical skills to realize the radical beliefs that have been formed. Cognition, affection, and target orientation can quickly be mastered and stimulated leading to certain actions.Social media is thus a weapon which is controlled to do to radicalize certain targets.

Radicalization can occur without active action from radical group account managers or admins targeting specific targets. In some cases, self-radicalization phenomena occur in individuals after interacting with social media accounts that are prepared as information channels by radical groups and terror. As an illustration, if we happen to be disappointed to buy a car that is not in accordance with the advertised and then connected to the network Facebook or social media account that experienced similar things, we will feel attached and easily put an opinion in the social media group. Content in the group will be the information channel for exposing the disappointment, and the group account managers or admin can exploit the psychological situation by inculcating certain ideas and directing them to specific actions, including the idea of burning a showroom or car manufacturer. 

Deradicalization 

The process of radicalization and self-radicalization through social media occurs because the exposure of such a massive information successfully hegemony discourse individuals or society effectively. Individuals or societies not only experience a change of perception, but also the orientation of a particular phenomenon or phenomenon that becomes a major issue in radical group messages. In the process of radicalization, the speed of impact can occur when the emotional and latent aspects within the structure of an individual or society can be exploited appropriately. Individuals or communities can instantly change quickly from attention to action after exposure to social media information. 

Social media is a progressive product that contains two sides, which can encourage the progress and destroy the community. In connection with the phenomenon of radicalization and self-radicalization through social media, then deradicalization can also be done with social media. The process of hegemonic discourse run by radical groups and terrorists can not only be prevented by using technology, but also by building a counter hegemonic message to counter radical discourse and terror.

Deradicalization is an ideological warfare and ideological discourse of alternative counter ideas and discourse of ideological interpretation of radical groups, at the same time to evict radical ideology with moderate alternative discourse. Thus, Deradicalisation can be a way of changing the perspective and mindset of sympathizers and radical groups, as well as giving a new orientation in responding to the propaganda of other radical groups. In the process of deradicalization, social media is a very strategic mass communication tool to be used as long as it is put in the right strategy and technique.

Experience shows that the technological approach to controlling social media is often ineffective such as sensor mechanisms and content filters and account closures. The ease of technology and access, including anonymity, will re-enrich the social media radical account of its propaganda. Deradicalization through social media should integrate efforts to transform public awareness of the public about information. The increasingly intelligent people in using social media will have the ability to sort the information obtained so that it is not easily affected by the radical content. The issue of strengthening the technology to filter the radical content is also an important step. Social media, governments, and providers should be able to forge effective cooperation and commit to protect interests society from exposure of content that endangers the public, especially the content of radical and terror. 

In addition, deradicalization operations through social media can not ignore communication strategies for counter-radical content-dominated hegemonic discs. Alternative information channels producing counter-radical issues and content need to be reproduced as literacy reference for the community. These measures must be offset by law enforcement in order to provide a deterrent effect and drag the radical content and terrorist spreaders to the green table. The existence of the National Cyber Council and related parties needs to pay particular attention to the traffic of information that could endanger the public's security. 

*) Senior researcher at the Center of Risk Strategic Intelligence Assessment (CERIA) Jakarta.