Social Media App “Color”
By Henry Williams, Thomson Reuters
Since its inception in 2006, Twitter boasts in excess of 140 million daily active users who help compose the roughly 340 million tweets written per day. Aside from Twitter, Facebook touts more than 525 million daily active users and YouTube advertises that over 4 billion videos are viewed on its website each day. Hence, arguably, social media has become an important element in the lives of people across the globe. Unfortunately, criminal and terrorist networks have observed the growth in social media users and have embraced the powers of social media outlets to recruit individuals across geographical boundaries and to spread propaganda. As a result, as social media continues to evolve and new mediums appear, criminals and terrorists will continue to exploit the developments made in social media in order to advance their respective agendas.
Among the social media tools that have emerged over the past year, Color has the potential of being misused by criminals and terrorists seeking to enhance their public profiles. The latest version of Color, which is currently available on Verizon Wireless’s 4G LTE network and Android devices, allows users to use the social media application on Facebook to broadcast thirty seconds of high-quality live video. As evident in the past, criminals and terrorists have documented their unlawful behavior and acts of violence, and then subsequently posted their material on social media platforms to elicit public reaction and garner widespread attention. Now imagine criminals and terrorists using Color to broadcast their illicit activities live via Facebook?
Take for instance, a terrorist organization live-streaming a bombing attack on an intended target or a group of criminals live-broadcasting their vandalistic escapades. What type of psychological impact would the live footage, as opposed to still images or pre-recorded video clips, have on the general public? What effect would it have on the efforts of law enforcement and counterterrorism officials? Conceivably, the use of Color by criminals and terrorists would transform their followers from passive spectators to participants in illicit activities. On the other hand, the live feed of criminal and violent activity could arouse strong objections from viewers, and thus, serve as a detriment to the public relations efforts of criminals and terrorists. What’s more, public outrage and fear generated from the live broadcasts may spur greater calls to reduce the footprint of criminals and terrorists on social media websites, even though in some cases, their presence has led to their apprehension and prosecution.
In the end, as social media continues to evolve, so will the discussion about the potential for criminals and terrorists to exploit new developments in the industry to further their reprehensible pursuits and the ways to mitigate their effects. What are your thoughts on the evolution of social media and its potential misuse?