Aaditya Dave

Transnational Lessons from Terrorist Use of Social Media in South Asia

The Global Research Network on Terrorism and Technology


This paper looks at how social media platforms have been instrumentalized for a variety of purposes by terrorist organizations in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and how the governments of those countries have tackled the issue. There are currently gaps in identifying terrorist content on various social media platforms. There may be a need for greater in-house expertise in technology companies, with the requisite language and cultural knowledge, to know where to look for content that might be missed by algorithms. There is a link between hate speech and terrorist activity in South Asia. Given the extent of inter-communal violence in the region, it is critical to carry out further research on this link. Terrorists’ use of end-to-end encrypted communications is a common feature of all three case studies in this paper: Pakistan; Bangladesh; and Sri Lanka. However, government responses to this in South Asia have so far been unhelpful, as their suggestions have been unimplementable and social media blocks have had limited effectiveness.