Social media platforms enabling radicalisation: US Ambassador

Social media platforms are enabling radicalisation, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said on Monday.

Mumbai: Social media platforms are enabling radicalisation, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said on Monday.

"Social media platforms are enabling radicalisation, recruitment, and networking among like-minded individuals from afar," Verma said during his address at the Megacity Security Conference here.

"The return of foreign fighters from places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria also casts ominous shadows. More so than ever before, small groups and individuals have access to lethal and even military-grade technologies that give them the ability to attack a city's functioning.

Communications and transportation networks essential to the daily livelihood in cities also can serve as enablers that allow groups to recruit and maintain networks with relative anonymity. Even smart cities, which offer the promise of a greener and more sustainable future, can be vulnerable to cyber attacks", he said.

The second potential security challenge comes from the

inability of mega-cities to uphold their end of the social contract through effective governance and service provision, the US Ambassador said.

"Some of our most famous philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Machiavelli argued that cities would provide greater justice, order, and provision of services. But the historical record is rather mixed," he said.

"Often, mega-cities are home to youth unemployment, internally displaced, international migrants, ethnic and religious tensions, and vast public corruption. Environmental and health challenges can be immense.

"Daily news reports and social media content reveal a cautionary tale about what happens when rapid and massive urbanisation outpaces infrastructure development and the provision of government services," he said.

"Joblessness grows, resources become limited, populations congregate in sub-standard housing, and environmental problems are exacerbated. Research shows us that people living in urban slums are more likely to be affected by child mortality, acute respiratory illnesses, and water-borne diseases, as sewage goes untreated," Verma added.

"Air pollution is often pervasive, as I see each day in Delhi, which is said to have the worst air conditions of any major city in the world. Some mega-cities even have life expectancies that are considerably lower than the national average, yet continue to act as magnets attracting rural populations," he said.  

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