Government battles terrorism in digital age

Expert: Only so much authorities can do to prevent social media recruitment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As terrorism continues to make headlines around the world, authorities work to stay one step ahead of the attackers.

For many agencies, that’s becoming increasingly difficult in the digital age.

The U.S. government reports that ISIS is using social media more and more to recruit terrorists.

“Let's be clear -- it's happening,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO of Secure Ideas in Jacksonville. “The government is watching Twitter and watching the accounts, and they're well aware that that account over there is doing recruitment, and the government is working to handle that.”

Johnson, an expert in the field of digital security, said authorities are closely monitoring social media activity by groups like ISIS but there's only so much they can do.

“The problem is, we have a level of privacy that's just assumed,” Johnson said. “Innocent until proven guilty. Would you want the government watching everything you post on every single social media platform? No.”

Several social media sites are working to disable accounts used by terrorists.

But experts said many terrorists have moved from using traditional social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to encrypted ones like Snapchat and video game consoles.

Johnson pointed out that privacy rights prevent the government from monitoring all social media activity.

That’s why he said preventing online terror recruiting comes down to personal responsibility.

He advised against adding anyone you don’t know to a social media account.

And if you have children, closely monitor their activity, he said.

Johnson said that terror recruiters are better than you may think at building trust with people they’ve never even met.

“If the parents aren't aware of what their kids are doing -- and too many parents aren't, right? – you're going to fail,” Johnson said. “That individual level is where it's going to stop.”