Violent Domestic Extremism and the Role of Social Media within Law Enforcement

In today’s world, it is nearly impossible to avoid the constant presence of social media and society’s obsession with it. It is all around us. Smartphones, computers, and tablets provide an individual or group with 24-hour, non-stop access to a vast Internet complete with a host of social forums that allow for constant and continuous information sharing. Individuals no longer focus on face-to-face relationships; instead, they rely on their social media footprint to meet and socialize with peer groups. For example, to be indoctrinated into a criminally subversive anti-government extremist group or belief, it has become as simple as logging into a chat room, forum, or social media website. Social media usage by subversive extremist groups is no longer the exception to the rule, it is the standard. As a result, today more than ever, law enforcement needs to be aware of its impact and use by violent domestic extremists. What was once thought of as a mostly rural U.S. underground movement has now expanded into ideological recruitment in every community.