One of the ways in which terror groups like ISIS influences its followers and would-be recruits is via the powerful medium of social media, with Twitter at the forefront.
According to a new report carried out by Brookings Institute academic JM Berger and technologist Jonathon Morgan, ISIS controls up to 90,000 Twitter accounts around the globe, which they use to spread their propaganda with.
While the report recommends that government institutions work together more closely with social media sites to curtail the spread of ISIS propaganda, it also reveals the extent to which the Islamic State has influence over its followers, even on the internet.
As co-author of the report, Jonathon Morgan, said.
“While we do not believe that any mainstream social media platform wishes to see its services used to further acts of horrific violence, we also suspect some would rather not be bothered with the challenge of crafting a broad and coherent response to the issue. While we can sympathies with the challenges and dilemmas such a response would entail, it is clear that social media companies do feel an obligation to respond to some social standards and illegal uses of their services.”
On top of that, he added that the same type of approach, taken with child pornography or human trafficking sites should be employed against the online ISIS social media machine.
Morgan continued that, “We are not aware of any major company that takes a hands-off approach to the use of its platform to promote child pornography or human trafficking – or, less dramatically, phishing, spam, fraud, and copyright violations.”
He also concluded that ISIS manipulates people, especially teens, through social media, which makes the war against terror that much more difficult,
“Extremism, while raising thornier issues, merits attention, especially when faced with a rising challenge of violent groups who manipulate platforms to reap the rewards of spreading images of their cruelty.”
While the proper level of censure and cooperation between the government’s intelligence agencies and social media sites is not as good as it could or should be, the fact the report identified the scale of the problem is a good start in the war against online ISIS.