World-leading terrorism and social media experts join forces at Swansea University conference

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A number of leading experts, policy-makers and practitioners from across the globe will gather at a conference at Swansea University on 25 and 26 June to examine the use of social media by terrorist groups and discuss ways of tackling it.

The two-day event, organised by CYTREC, the Cyber Threats Research Centre at Swansea University’s School of Law, will look at a range of topics, including:

  • How social media is used to spread propaganda in an attempt to radicalise people.
  • Different types of violent extremism, from jihadism and the far-right to Antifa and eco-terrorism.
  • Regulation of online content, including using technology to block content whilst protecting free speech.
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of different counter-messaging campaigns.
  • A range of ethical issues, including the use of cyber operations.

Among the keynote speakers are J.M. Berger, a postgraduate researcher at Swansea University and research fellow at VOX-Pol, an academic research network focused on researching Violent Online Political Extremism, and Dr Krisztina Huzti-Orban, the senior legal advisor to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights.

Members of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism will also be present, including Dr Erin Marie Saltman, Facebook’s policy manager who oversees counterterrorism and counter-extremism efforts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and William McCants, Google’s global public policy lead for hate speech and terrorism.

Experts from Swansea University’s Cyber Threats Research Centre and delegates from across Europe, North America, Australia, and the Middle East, will also be giving presentations and taking part in discussions.

The first day of the Terrorism and Social Media conference will focus on how terrorists are using social media, including comparisons of different forms of violent extremism and different geographic regions.

Day two will focus on questions of response, including balancing effectiveness with respect for human rights and exploring how technology can be used in support of counterterrorism efforts.

Professor Stuart Macdonald, Director of CYTREC, said: "We are delighted to be hosting this conference on such an important topic at Swansea University. In responding to terrorists' use of social media, it is essential that all stakeholders work together - and so we are especially pleased to have representatives from law enforcement and the armed forces, policymakers from national governments and international governmental organisations and technology companies of all sizes attending the event alongside academic researchers.”