Advertisement

Web Search pp 151-175 | Cite as

‘Googling’ Terrorists: Are Northern Irish Terrorists Visible on Internet Search Engines?

  • P. Reilly
Part of the Information Science and Knowledge Management book series (ISKM, volume 14)

In this chapter, the analysis suggests that Northern Irish terrorists are not visible on Web search engines when net users employ conventional Internet search techniques. Editors of mass media organisations traditionally have had the ability to decide whether a terrorist atrocity is ‘newsworthy,’ controlling the ‘oxygen’ supply that sustains all forms of terrorism. This process, also known as ‘gatekeeping,’ is often influenced by the norms of social responsibility, or alternatively, with regard to the interests of the advertisers and corporate sponsors that sustain mass media organisations. The analysis presented in this chapter suggests that Internet search engines can also be characterised as ‘gatekeepers,’ albeit without the ability to shape the content of Websites before it reaches net users. Instead, Internet search engines give priority retrieval to certain Websites within their directory, pointing net users towards these Websites rather than others on the Internet. Net users are more likely to click on links to the more ‘visible’ Websites on Internet search engine directories, these sites invariably being the highest ‘ranked’ in response to a particular search query. A number of factors including the design of the Website and the number of links to external sites determine the ‘visibility’ of a Website on Internet search engines. The study suggests that Northern Irish terrorists and their sympathisers are unlikely to achieve a greater degree of ‘visibility’ online than they enjoy in the conventional mass media through the perpetration of atrocities. Although these groups may have a greater degree of freedom on the Internet to publicise their ideologies, they are still likely to be speaking to the converted or members of the press. Although it is easier to locate Northern Irish terrorist organisations on Internet search engines by linking in via ideology, ideological description searches, such as ‘Irish Republican’ and ‘Ulster Loyalist,’ are more likely to generate links pointing towards the sites of research institutes and independent media organisations than sites sympathetic to Northern Irish terrorist organisations. The chapter argues that Northern Irish terrorists are only visible on search engines if net users select the correct search terms.

Keywords

Search Engine Internet User Search Query Terrorist Group Computer Mediate Communication 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bar-Ilan J (1999) Search engine results over time–a case study on search engine stability. Cybermetric: International Journal of Scientometrics, Informetrics and Bibliometrics 3. Online. Available www.cybermetrics.cindoc/csic.es/pruebas/v2i191.html (accessed 23 October 2004)
  2. Bodard K (2003) The free access to information challenged by filtering techniques. Information and Communication Technology Law 12: 263–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bowyer Bell J (2000) The IRA 1968–2000: analysis of a secret army. Frank Cass, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Gerhart S (2004) Do web search engines suppress controversy? First Monday, 9 Online. Available http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_1/gerhart/index.html (accessed 10 June 2004).
  5. Hindman M, Tsioutsiouliklis K, Johnson JA (2003) Googlearchy: how a few heavily linked sites dominate politics on the web. Online. Available www.princeton.edu/ mhindman/googlearchy–hindman.pdf (accessed 30 October 2004)
  6. Independent Monitoring Commission, First Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission, http://www.independentmonitoringcommission.org/documents/uploads/ACFA6C2.pdf (accessed 10 June 2004)
  7. Institute for Counter-Terrorism (2004) Terrorist group profiles. Online. Available www.ict.org.il/inter_ter/orgdat (accessed 10 June 2004)
  8. Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (2005) Google, the world’s most popular search engine enabled Hamas to place an advertisement linking to the Izzedine al-Qassam Battalion website, Tel Aviv: Center for Special StudiesGoogle Scholar
  9. Margolis M, Resnick D (2000) Politics as usual: the cyberspace revolution. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Negrine R (1994) Politics and the mass media in Britain. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Noveck BS (2000) Paradoxical partners: electronic communication and electronic democracy.In: Ferdinand, P (ed.) The Internet, democracy and democratization Frank Cass, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Ntoulas A, Cho J, Olson C (2004) What’s new on the web? the evolution of the web from a search engine perspective. Proceedings of the Thirteenth WWW Conference, New York, USA, Online. Available http://oak.cs.ucla.edu/ntoulas/pubs/ntoulas_new.pdf (accessed 04 November 2005)
  13. O’Dochartaigh N (2003) Building new transnational networks online: the case for ulster unionism. Development Gateway Online. Available http:// topic.developmentgateway.org/ict/rc/ItemDetail.do 346057 (accessed 17/02/2006)
  14. Reilly P (2006) Civil society, the Internet and terrorism: case studies from northern ireland. In: Oates, S, Owen, D and Gibson, R.K The Internet and politics: citizens, voters and activists, Oxford: Routledge, pp.118–136Google Scholar
  15. Richards A (2001) Terrorist groups and political fronts: the IRA, sinn fein, the peace process and democracy. Terrorism and Political Violence, 13: 72–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Search Engine Yearbook (2003) Search engine statistics 2003, Online. Available http://www.searchengineyearbook.com/search-engines-statistics.shtml (accessed 17 October 2004)
  17. Silke A (1998) In defense of the realm: financing loyalist terrorism in northern ireland–part one: extortion and blackmail. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 21: 331–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Softsteel Solutions (2003) Improving your search engine rating. Online. Available www.softsteel.co.uk/tutorials/search/searchIndex.html (accessed 10 June 2004)
  19. Spears R, Lea M (1994) Panacea or panopticon: the hidden power in computer mediated communication (CMC). Communication Research 21: 427–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Submit Corner (2004) Search engine guide. Online. Available, www.submitcorner.com/Guide/Se (accessed 14 September 2004)
  21. Sullivan D (2005) Share of searches: July 2005. Search Engine Watch, Online. Available www.searchenginewatch.com/reports/article.php/2156451 (accessed 10 November 2005)
  22. Thelwall M (2001) The responsiveness of search engines. Cybermetrics: International Journal of Scientometrics, Informetrics and Bibliometrics, 5. Online. Available www.cybermetrics.cindoc.csic.es/pruebos/v5i1p1.html (accessed 14 October 2004)
  23. Walker J (2002) Links and power: the political economy of linking on the web, Baltimore: ACM Press. Online. Available www.cnc.uib.no/jill/txt/linksandpower.html (accessed 20 October 2004)
  24. Webopedia Computer Dictionary (2004) What is a meta tag? Online. Available http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/m/Meta_tag.html (accessed 10 November 2005)
  25. Weinmann G (2004) WWW.terror.net: how modern terrorism uses the Internet, washington DC: United States Institute of Peace. Online. Available http://www.usiporg/pubs/specialreports/sr116.html (accessed 10 October 2005).
  26. Wouters P, Gerbec D (2003) Interactive Internet? studying mediated interaction with publicly available search engines. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 8. Online. Available http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol8/issue4/wouters.html (accessed 16 November 2005)
  27. Wouters P, Helsten K, Leydesdorff L (2004) Internet time and the reliability of search engines. First Monday 9. Online. Available www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_10/wouters/index.html (accessed 16 October 2004).
  28. Zittrain J, Edelman B (2005) Localized google search result exclusions. Online. Available http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering/google (accessed 10 November 2005).

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Reilly
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PoliticsUniversity of GlasgowGlasgow

Personalised recommendations