Subscribe

In ongoing war with Islamic State, Twitter suspends 2,000 accounts (+video)

The Islamic State is well known for its savvy use of social media to spread threats and propaganda. But social media companies in the United States, including Twitter, are fighting back.

Twitter has launched its own war against the Islamic State (IS).

A brutal organization that has succeeded in conquering large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, IS is also well known for its savvy use of social media to spread threats and propaganda. But social media companies in the United States are fighting back.

Over the past several days, Twitter has suspended about 2,000 IS-affiliated accounts.

"Twitter has been doing a whole lot over the past week. They've slammed them pretty hard, including the official media distribution guys," J.M. Berger, a terrorism analyst who monitors IS online messaging, told ABC News.

As part of the private-sector effort to combat IS, Google Ideas commissioned a study by Mr. Berger and others in which they created a system to track pro-IS messages on social media. The group recently reported its findings to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a full report will be published by the Brookings Institution's Project on US Relations With the Islamic World early this month.

According to Berger, 13 of the 16 major IS distribution accounts were removed from Twitter this week. Since IS began using social media to target Western audiences last summer, tens of thousands of IS-affiliated accounts have been suspended, analysts estimate.

YouTube and Facebook have also expanded preexisting processes to identify and remove terrorist content. But while Facebook has succeeded in making it nearly impossible for IS supporters to maintain fan pages or online groups, YouTube has struggled to keep up with the volume of IS-related videos. About 300 hours of video material is uploaded to YouTube every minute, Verity Harding, a Google public policy manager, told the Associated Press last month. (Google owns YouTube.)

Often the job of removing offending IS videos is like a game of whack-a-mole, with new content popping up faster than it can be removed.

Twitter has been taking a proactive approach and suspending IS-affiliated accounts before they post offending material.  

“It has never happened before that Twitter suspends randomly and without graphic photos or attack on individual or threat,” reporter Elijah Magnier told the Daily Dot, which covers Internet issues. “Some accounts were suspended 3-7 times within one single day.”

The efforts are taking place without the encouragement of the US government, which would sometimes prefer that IS-affiliated accounts remain active for intelligence-gathering purposes, according to ABC News, which cited an anonymous source.

Meanwhile, private companies aren’t the only ones stepping up their efforts to squash IS’s cyberpresence. The hacktivist collective Anonymous has recently launched an initiative to track and hack IS-affiliated social media accounts. While Twitter and Facebook have not confirmed whether the hackers alerted them to some of the offending content on their sites, the majority of the material identified by Anonymous has been removed from both sites, CNN reported.

The increased effort to combat IS’s online presence has not gone unnoticed by the group. On Monday, IS representatives called for the death of Twitter employees.  

“Your virtual war on us will cause a real war on you,” read a post on the media-sharing site JustPaste.it.

The post, which was written in Arabic and addressed to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, featured an image of Mr. Dorsey with crosshairs over his face.

Twitter’s security team is investigating the veracity of the threat.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK