Amid growing concern about social media’s role in enabling terrorist recruitment and planning, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer is proposing legislation that would establish a minimum reward of $25,000 for any social media tip that helps foil a terror attack in the U.S. – and larger rewards up to $25 million for more important tips – the New York senator’s office announced over the weekend.
In the official announcement from Schumer’s office, the Senator stated, “There is no doubt about it, ISIS actively uses social media as one of their main weapons,” referring to the terrorist group and self-proclaimed caliphate behind multiple terror attacks in Europe. “We need the public’s eyes to alert authorities if they see someone they know writing things they know spell trouble. And we need to offer a minimum reward for this information if it actually does prevent an attack.”
In the announcement Schumer’s office noted that while U.S. Department of Justice currently offers a Reward for Justice Program, the policy does not explicitly state that tips pointing to social media clues also qualify for the anti-terror rewards. It also does not set out a minimum reward amount. Schumer also called for more publicity for the anti-terror rewards.
Schumer noted that the dangers presented by social media aren’t limited to recruitment, but also extend to the much more diffuse threat of self-radicalization: “With ISIS using social media to recruit and plan terror attacks reaching disaffected lone wolves, the feds must do more to increase the number of public eyes on social media to prevent attacks.”
Recent examples of self-radicalization by terrorists include the San Bernardino terror attacks, in which an Islamist extremist couple were apparently inspired to carry out the attacks on behalf of ISIS despite lacking any real connection to the group.
Last month U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee began considering a Senate bill ordering the executive branch to present a counter-terror strategy coordinating the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and FBI, among other agencies.
The bill will also require the White House to deliver an update on its social media counter-terror strategy within three months, as well as a report on how social media has served to facilitate radicalization and terrorist recruitment, and the resources and training available to investigators involved in counter-terror efforts on social media.