At its height, al-Qaeda had mastered how to amplify the effect of real-world attacks with virtual representations—videos, audio recordings, and articles reproducing its mayhem online. But as the Web has transformed into a more social entity, the terrorist organization is " stuck in 1.0," writes analyst Daniel Kimmage in the New York Times. If America and its allies want to win the war on terror, they should look to YouTube.
The early web was a haven for "anonymity and accessibility," the central elements of al-Qaeda's distribution. But a social web that "can unite a fragmented silent majority" has been far less kind to Islamic extremists, blasting their propaganda on YouTube, social networks, and blogs. It's unfortunate, then, that many Mideast countries censor the Internet; free access is "a very practical means of countering al-Qaeda."