In response to The Economist's article "Tech Giants are Under Fire for Facilitating Terrorism".
The danger is real. But the danger of radicalism or learning things that could upend the way of life are not new. From pamphlets like Common Sense to the Anarchist's Cookbook, information that proposes beliefs and capabilities not in keeping with the norm have proliferated. Regardless of whether it was the government or the mob that burned books and destroyed printing presses, the knowledge and the ideology persisted. Even today, the Gnostic Gospels stand as a testament to the inability of the Catholic Church to destroy "heretical works" after almost a millennia.
Today, modernity and western values are coming into increased conflict with values and a way of life that are anything but modern or in keeping with western values. The first gut reaction is always to take away or destroy that which threatens you. Our desire to upend the belief of good ideas to win out over bad ones and our values to win out over those that motivate terrorists is strong. However, it is only in reinforcing our values and cogently presenting our beliefs that modernity and western values will win.
Rather than relying on YouTube and Facebook to create 1984's Thought Police and become the arbiter of what is right and good, we should be actively and consistently fighting the jihadist ideology with our ideology. As simplistic as the expressed arguments were for democracy over communism, democratic values were reinforced throughout the United States (and the West), and we unhesitatingly took umbrage with the Soviet Union and the ideology of communism that they pushed throughout the world. Rather than being buried, as Gorbachev promised the United States and our democratic allies, it was the Soviet Union and communism that were buried in the ash heap of history. Our values and way of life won.
Now, none of this should be taken as a statement that the west should not fight ISIS, nor try to disrupt terrorist networks. We should. However, using Facebook and YouTube to police a non-radical population and become the Thought Police will have an abhorrent effect on the freedom of speech, thought, and transmission of ideas that is the foundation for our society and our democracy. If sunlight is the best disinfectant, than forcing a shadow that covers the entire world will not only harm jihadists, it will also harm us.