So that beach guy doing a Facebook selfie? Add a beard and he's an ISIS warrior

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!

An ISIS jihadi poses for a chilling photo next to holidaymakers on the beach at a resort in Turkey.
Raising fears that that terror group is planning another Tunisia-style beach massacre, jihadist Pasaliasi Isde stood next to unsuspecting holidaymakers at the Black Sea resort of Amasra.
The new photos were posted on Facebook yesterday. Isde also used Facebook to 'check in' to a number of beach resorts along the coast in the last fortnight.  One million British holidaymakers visit Turkey every year, the Association of British Travel Agents said today. 

Look at the images. This is just another muscle-beach guy with tattoos, right? He wouldn't attract a second look from people looking for long beards and ISIS flags.

But he is, obviously, living a double life in cyberspace:

Clean-shaven and wearing Western-style clothing, the photographs are in stark contrast to Isde's activities over the border in Syria in recent months -- where he happily posed alongside mutilated corpses and severed heads while fighting under the sinister black banner of the Islamic State. 
His Facebook page, which has now been deleted, showed how he promotes extremist propaganda lauding the activities of the Islamic State and urging friends to behead Westerners.
Posing alongside well known jihadis in war torn areas of Syria, a bearded Isde is seen dressed in military fatigues and holding assault rifles alongside the terror group's chilling black banner. Images that appear to have been taken on a mobile phone show a row of severed heads of three Syrian regime soldiers, suggesting Isde witnessed or possibly even participated in their murders.
Elsewhere Isde urged his Facebook friends to 'cut of the heads of the Kuffar [non-believers]' and issued the stark threat: 'You are either with us or against us'. He also celebrated ISIS' leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a series of photographs, leaving viewers with no doubt where his allegiances lie.

So Facebook leaders caught this guy, as part of their attempts to be more careful with ISIS related materials? American security officials caught him, right? Some experts holed up in a secret lab at the Pentagon? How about Turkish experts?

In a chilling twist, Isde's Facebook page was not discovered by Turkish security officials but by Macer Gifford -- a British national who gave up a top job in the City last December to fight alongside the brave Kurdish forces battling ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

So what can be done? Technology shapes content, yes. But so do people and, like it or note, at this point people are more creative than the computers that try to filter out the demons that stalk the innocent, and not so innocent, online.

Enjoy the podcast. Well, is "enjoy" really the right word to use this week?

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