Twitter has been working along FBI to identify accounts related to the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations who use the platform to propagate their agenda and target recruits. Twitter has been “very cooperative,” FBI Director James Comey said on Thursday.
Twitter praised for cooperating with FBI
Talking on how the terrorist operates on the social media, Comey said if someone signs as a follower for one of the ISIL feeds, then one the ISIL tweeters will follow that person back, and thereafter there will be frequent direct messaging between them on Twitter. Then from there, they move to a more encrypted and secure forum, says a report from Huffington Post.
“Obviously Twitter is in the clear, direct messaging is not. But it’s not encrypted,” Comey said. “So we can, through the legal process, get access to it and see it.” The FBI director praised the micro-blogging site for its efforts to close the suspicious accounts, but said there is an ongoing debate among the counter terrorism community whether or not closing ISIS-related Twitter accounts is the right move, as by allowing them to operate, more information can be gathered.
To make its platform secure for its users, Twitter has been active in deleting suspicious accounts. A few months back, a report from The New York Times claimed that the micro-blogging site had closed 10,000 accounts that were hinting at violent threats. Citing a company representative, the report said that the micro-blogging firm closed the accounts for “tweeting violent threats.”
Terrorist groups are “good at what they do”
Documents filed by FBI agents involving recent terrorism cases suggest that the persons charged under in cases were first noticed by the FBI from their Twitter activity. Comey said ISIS and other groups have been using social media very efficiently to spread their message and contact new and potential recruits. Acknowledging their skills by saying that they are “actually quite good at what they do,” Comey noted that they use modern-day tools and techniques to propagate their ideas through social media.
Such activities by terrorists groups has given rise to discussions of whether or not tech firms should come up with a way to bypass their encryption to allow access to law enforcement officials. Comey said he has been making efforts for a discussion on such matters, and even testified before the Congress over the challenges that encryption presents for law enforcement.