WABI, WVII interview Sporer about research on terrorism, Twitter

WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) interviewed Karyn Sporer, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maine, about her research on the role of Twitter in terrorists’ justification of violence. Sporer began the research and analysis of the tweets when she was at the University of Nebraska, and continued the project when she came to UMaine, according to WABI. She looks for tweets posted within 24 hours of mass casualty terrorist attacks, analyzing any themes present that are used to justify violence. These include justifications also used to defend crimes such as theft and abuse, like ideology and hypocrisy. “The main point was to see how the internet played a role in that process of spreading propaganda, disseminating various information, like training guides,” Sporer said. Sporer hopes her research will raise awareness around the issue and help agencies develop strategies to counter extremism and radicalization through counter-messages. She uses the research in the classroom as well. “One thing that’s important for students or anyone in general to realize is that terrorism isn’t just Islam, radical Islam, but we have terrorism here in the U.S. Far-right extremists, drug wars, paramilitary violence, all of these fall under the threshold of what is terrorism, what is violence,” said Sporer. Phys.org and The Maine Edge carried a UMaine release about the research.