Terrorist groups have reportedly using social media to communicate for long period. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have been believed to frequent Facebook and Hamas has been a well-known devotee of Twitter. Now, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is thought to also be quite active on social networks through more than 46,000 twitter accounts. ISIS supporters are believed to have operated at least 46,000 Twitter accounts between September and December 2014, according to a new study by the Brookings Institute think tank.
ISIS "has exploited social media, most notoriously Twitter, to send its propaganda and messaging out to the world and to draw in people vulnerable to radicalization," J.M. Berger and Jonathan Morgan, the study's authors, wrote in the report. The group is "using social media to attract new recruits and inspire lone actor attacks," they said.
ISIS is known as one of the world's most brutal terrorist groups for its members beheading hostages and putting those videos on YouTube. Brookings wanted to get to the bottom of how ISIS used Twitter and just how far it was able to cast its net on the social network. Besides pinpointing 46,000 Twitter accounts associated with ISIS supporters, the think tank was also able to locate where many of those accounts originated, including Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, United States and Egypt. While the majority of the accounts used Arabic as their primary language, one in five of the accounts designated English as their main language.
"Much of ISIS's social media success can be attributed to a relatively small group of hyperactive users, numbering between 500 and 2,000 accounts, which tweet in concentrated bursts of high volume," Berger and Morgan wrote.
"Your virtual war on us will cause a real war on you," read one post by alleged ISIS supporters. "We told you from the beginning it's not your war, but you didn't get it and kept closing our accounts on Twitter, but we always come back."