Technology progresses every single day, and with that comes popularity of the usage of social media. Social media has taken the world by storm, with hundreds of it available online to try and use by anyone and everyone around the globe. However, with the seemingly endless war that’s present in some parts of the world, this piece of milestone in the world of modern-day technology has become the latest medium for terrorism.
Twitter has been a host several times for terror tweets. Terrorist organizations have embraced Twitter as a sure-fire way to spread their message and “connect” with like-minded people. Al Qaeda had their account suspended after gaining 1,800 followers, and publishing 29 tweets that mentioned death tallies and religious proclamations. An African militant group related to them, Al-Shabaab, had three accounts suspended after publishing a photo of a French commando they allegedly killed, for claiming responsibility for the deadly Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as tweeting real-time updates of the siege, and for threating to execute their Kenyan hostages, as well as Somalia’s president.
Facebook, on the other hand, is being used as a tool to recruit new members in Indonesia, targeting young people. Over the past two years, Islam extremists have recruited 50-100 militants in the country directly through it. According to Taufiqurrohman, an analyst who works closely with Indonesian anti-terrorism officials, there are at least 18 radical groups present on Facebook, and one of them has 7,000 members.
An Indonesian anti-terrorist agency also reported catching a group uploading a propaganda video on YouTube.
Twitter hasn’t released any official statements regarding the matter; however, it’s their policy to censor accounts used “for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities”. Facebook’s spokesman, Fred Wolens, said the company bars promotions of terrorism and direct statements of hate. Both websites suspends and deletes these kinds of accounts only when prodded by external reports of their existence.
The Associated Press, “Social Media Sites Now Recruiting Tool for Terrorists”, The Asahi Shimbun, June 21, 2013, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/asia/south_east_asia/AJ201306210097
Agence France-Presse, “Twitter Suspends Al-Shabaab Account After Terrorists Live Attack”, Raw Story, September 21, 2013, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/09/21/twitter-suspends-al-shabaab-account-after-terrorists-live-tweet-attack/
Prasant Naidu, “Increased Presence of Terrorist Organisations on Social Media: Challenges for Social Networks”, Social Media Today, October 2, 2013, http://socialmediatoday.com/prasant-naidu/1786511/terrorist-organizations-social-media-challenges-social-networks
Student Researcher: Jessica Fuentes (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)