Twitter is one of the popular social media providing people with a platform to communicate with billions across the globe easily. While social media platforms have been put to several good uses, their misuse is also rampant, especially by ISIS, which has been making use of these sites for several purposes, including for hiring and recruiting.
First public study to quantify ISIS Twitter accounts
ISIS has several accounts created on Twitter for several of its group members, who use them to spread messages to the group’s members spread around the world and for other purposes. The number of accounts operated by ISIS was a matter of speculation, but now the first public attempt has been made for measuring the reach of the group on Twitter.
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Brookings Institute released a study last week quantifying the influence of ISIS on the social media platform, according to a report from The New York Times. The number of accounts run by Islamic State supporters was determined in the study called “The ISIS Twitter Census,” which used the data from September to December last year.
The authors of the study, J.M. Berger and Jonathan Morgan, monitored the proxies of the official ISIS accounts suspended by Twitter in the summer of 2014. They tracked “friends” of the seed accounts. Keeping in mind the fact that ISIS is an insular community, only the accounts with fewer than 500 followers were tracked by the authors. According to the authors, these accounts were not likely to follow non-supporters and were more optimally focused.
As per the authors, “Our guiding analytical principle was that an ISIS supporter online could be best defined as someone who was followed by at least one other ISIS supporter, rather than someone who tweeted specific kinds of content within a particular time frame.”
Based on their methodology, the authors determined that the number of accounts run by ISIS supporters on Twitter ranged from 46,000 to 70,000. At the same time, the authors noted that the actual number could be at the lower end. Morgan and Berger maintain that their study should be viewed as more of a “starting point for future research.”