Trend Watch

'Terrorism' Lookups Follow Las Vegas Shooting

“The use of violent acts to frighten ... as a way of trying to achieve a political goal”

Lookups for terrorism spiked on October 2, 2017, following the Las Vegas shooting.

There was discussion on social media about whether mass shootings constitute terrorism (or “domestic terrorism”) regardless of known motive or the race or religion of the attacker. At the same time, there were news reports that authorities did not consider the shooting to be a terrorist attack and reports about how terrorism is defined by Nevada law.

Terrorism is defined as “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.” The word terrorism was first used to refer to political violence perpetrated by the revolutionary government of France during the French Revolution’s “Reign of Terror.” Its use to refer to terrible violent acts without a clear political motive may constitute an emerging new sense of the word.

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