Extremists are turning Twitter and Facebook into theatres of War

New Scientist

IN NOVEMBER 2015, an ISIS operative shot and killed two US military contractors in Amman, Jordan. Last week, their families filed their third lawsuit against Twitter.

They are blaming the social network for the attack. “For years, Twitter knowingly and recklessly provided ISIS with accounts on its social network,” they claim in their complaint. “Through this provision of material support, Twitter enabled ISIS to acquire the resources needed to carry out numerous terrorist attacks.”

Twitter and Facebook have become theatres of war. In a report released earlier this year, the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence outlined how social networks allow states and militant groups to “blur the distinction between peace-time and war-time activities”. Thanks to social networks, they now have not clear if this is coming from them or us. If it’s us, could make this a new paragraph new ways to share propaganda, recruit people to their cause and steal information.

Some of this activity is carried out by people with fake identities, some by bots that make spam posts. For example, they can flood popular hashtags with messages promoting a particular cause or ridiculing opponents.

The report also documents incidents of “catfishing”: the use of fake profiles of attractive women to befriend people. The Taliban has reportedly used this trick to tease information out of Australian soldiers on Facebook. But it is ISIS that exemplifies this modern approach to extremism, relying heavily on social media to spread its message and recruit supporters around the world.

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