D.P.S. report states social media plays role in mass attacks - FOX34 Lubbock

D.P.S. report states social media plays role in mass attacks

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"The internet changed the way we learn, the way we relate to each other, the way we love, the way we have relationships with both organizations and individuals," Assistant professor at Texas Tech, Lisa Dubois Low said. 

Although no one single "mass attacker" definition has been created yet, the new D.P.S. reports identify similarities among past cases of domestic terrorism, including the role of social media.

Low specializes in digital and social media.

"Like any tool it's just as good as the human using it," Low said.

Governor Abbott created the "Domestic Terrorism Task Force" in the days after the El Paso shooting.

"The governor has asked this task force to think about ways that we can prevent the actual mass attacks from occurring, " Lubbock County D.A. Sunshine Stanek said.

Stanek is the only representative from our area to serve on the task force.

The accused shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, allegedly posted a manifesto online just minutes before the attack was carried out. 

"With social media, that can bring out our baser traits. Greed, hatred, anger, being very frustrated of what we think life should be like," Low said. 

Online platforms can function a lot like a car rear view mirror, making things seem "closer than they appear."

The internet also creates "echochambers" providing easy access to like-minded people or communities, sometimes ones that fixate on hate.

"These kinds of communities can really... manipulate. They serve to manipulate and hype and whip up that hatred," Low added.

One report states on page 45: "Mass attackers will continue to harness increasingly secure online communication platforms.... to communicate, disseminate propaganda, generate a virtual environment conductive to radicalizing and mobilizing themselves and others to violence."

This creates an unprecedented challenge for law enforcement.

"The smartest people on the planet can't figure out or stop these mass attacks," Low said.

"We're way beyond Facebook and Myspace at this point right...we have to think of ways to catch up with that and implement laws that are able to keep up with the changing social media apps," D.A. Stanek said.

At the moment, there is no domestic terror statute in the state of Texas.

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