This report is from Phase 1 of GIFCT’s research network initiative. Please note that during this time the network was known as the Global Research Network on Terrorism and Technology (GRNTT) and was delivered by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
This paper looks at how social media platforms have been instrumentalised for a variety of purposes by terrorist organisations in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and how the governments of those countries have tackled the issue. It aims to draw lessons from past cases and presents recommendations that might help mitigate the harm caused by such use. The paper focuses on these countries as, in addition to the increasing proliferation of the internet, they have experienced significant terrorist activity, either over a protracted period, as in the case of Pakistan and Bangladesh, or more recently, as in the case of Sri Lanka. India, another South Asian country which shares these characteristics, is the subject of another paper in this series and was thus not taken up here.8 The paper is based on a study of academic and grey literature, official documents and journalistic coverage. Owing to the fact that there is limited academic literature on this topic in South Asia, the latter three categories of literature provided more relevant information. Further, the research for this paper examined only English-language sources, so material in other languages, particularly, Urdu, Sindhi, Baloch, Tamil, Sinhala and Bangla, was not examined. This paper is therefore intended to provide a basis for future research using fieldwork and primary and secondary sources in local languages.Read full report