Twitter Inc vs. ISIS – An Ongoing Battle


Twitter has been doing all it can to limit the spread of ISIS on its platform, but so far, the results have not been very successful. Though Twitter is quick to block ISIS-related accounts, supporters keep opening new accounts almost as promptly as digital gatekeepers delete them, says The Wall Street Journal.

New account surfaces after one is closed

A notorious Islamic State operative posted a Twitter message hours after the Brussels terror attacks.

Abu al-Walid, a presumed nom de guerre, posted, “We promise black days for all crusader nations allied in their war against Islamic State,” on behalf of the extremist group that took responsibility for the slaughter.

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Twitter closed his account, but he kept making a new one. He circulated photos of sweets handed out to “celebrate” the attacks using his 464th account. Twitter condemns the use of its platform to promote terrorism and has deleted 125,000 accounts since mid-2015 for threatening or promoting terrorist acts, the micro-blogging giant said earlier this year.

In response, Islamic State operatives send a tweet of a bullet-riddled version of the company’s bluebird logo. Also the group distributed a video mocking the shutdown efforts by social media platforms and a banner reading, “Is that all you can do?” at the video’s end.

Twitter vs. ISIS – an unending war

Accounts and posts that once stayed up for weeks now last for as little as a few hours. This battle has emerged as an important front against the spread of Islamic State extremism and its recruitment, ideology, and financing. Every day, Islamic State supporters send tweets that promise paradise for believers and brutal death to all who oppose their brand of religiosity.

According to analysis conducted for The Wall Street Journal by Recorded Future, a threat intelligence firm based in Somerville, Mass., Twitter ramped up its anti-terror fight last summer and closed more than 26,000 suspected pro-Islamic State accounts in March–nearly four times the number erased in September. But IS supporters established more than 21,000 accounts in March, compared with about 7,000 in September, the analysis suggests.

Twitter is not alone in this war. Other U.S. companies such as Facebook and YouTube have aggressively battled the spread of Islamic State material online for months with help from hackers and similarly-minded groups. Even private intelligence firms and crowd-sourcing organizations such as CtrlSec, which attracts online hunters worldwide to watch for suspected terrorists on social media, have joined the battle. CtrlSec said it has identified about 120,000 Twitter accounts in the past year.