Earlier this week, I pled with readers to pay attention to a Washington Post feature about the problems -- that seems like such a weak word in this case -- the Islamic State is causing for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and other companies in the freewheeling world of social media.
What's at stake? Well, obviously, there are thousands and thousands of lives at stake. The future of ancient Christian communions are at stake, along with other minority religious groups in the Nineveh Plain and elsewhere in the region.
Oh, right, and the First Amendment is at risk, too. That's all.
I'm happy to report that readers responded and, apparently, passed the URL for that post (here it is again) around online, because it was one of our most highly read articles so far this month. Thank you. It will not surprise you that this topic also served as the hook for this week's "Crossroads" podcast, as well. Click here to tune in on that discussion.
Now, several times during the discussion, host Todd Wilken asked me what I think social-media professionals should do in this situation. What should First Amendment supporters do, as ISIS keeps managing to stay one or two steps ahead of attempts to control their use of technology to spread both their images of violence and, in some ways even worse, their emotionally manipulative and even poetic messages that target the emotions and faith of potential recruits to their cause?
The bottom line: I have no idea. This is one of those times when free speech liberals, such as myself, face the negative side of the global freedoms that digital networks have unleashed in the marketplace of ideas. How do you ban twisted forms if Islam, when other forms of this world faith use the same terms and images in different ways? How can a search engine detect motives and metaphors?
And what about the ability of individual ISIS members to use social media, while acting as individuals? I mean, look at this amazing, horrifying case as reported in The Daily Mail!