Today’s guest post comes from the staff of the Community Policing and Countering Violent Extremism project at the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Social media is a great tool for law enforcement to use for connecting, communicating, and engaging the community, a point well established in this blog with posts like this
, and this
. Unfortunately, social media can also be a great tool for violent extremists to connect, communicate, and engage.
Extremists use a combination of traditional websites, mainstream social media platforms, and other specialized sites to identify, groom, radicalize, and communicate with one another. Extremists have uploaded videos to YouTube and Facebook and have been tweeting for years. Recently, extremists and their sympathizers are turning to less mainstream social media platforms, particularly Instagram.
Extremists—especially those overseas—are using Instagram to post and share pictures, promote propaganda, and communicate with members. Photos of imprisoned extremists with captions glorifying their crimes and images containing quotes from extremist leaders are becoming an increasingly larger part of the more than 40 million photos posted daily.
How can law enforcement use Instagram to counter violent extremism? For the answer, we turn to – oddly—Chechen President Razman Kadyrov
. Kadyrov uploaded his first picture in November 2012 and has since uploaded more than 800 pictures and amassed
more than 150,000 followers. In the aftermath of the bombing at the Boston Marathon, Kadyrov took to Instagram to share his condolences and distance his country from the Tsarnaevs.
Similarly, law enforcement agencies can use Instagram to upload pictures and share messages. Creating an account and uploading pictures is free and easy. Agencies can use Instagram to post pictures that reflect the department, its mission, and its interactions with the community. Active engagement on emerging platforms like Instagram, in and of itself, is a way to promote your community policing initiatives and counter violent extremism.
Here are some examples of agencies using Instagram:
• Baltimore Police Department - http://instagram.com/baltimorepolicedepartment
• St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office - http://instagram.com/sjsopio
For more on the role of community policing in countering violent extremism, visit www.theIACP.org/CVE