Terrorism using Social Media

Social media is often used by companies for adverting or sharing new information with the world. It gives companies access to the global world, instead of the local areas. The global accessibility of social media van be seen as a big advantage, but also as a disadvantage. What to think about terrorism, which uses social media platform in order to share their thoughts about the world.

The use of social media by terrorists was also recognized by Robert Hannigan, the head of GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarter). He gave a several examples which were used by terrorists in order to spread their ideas or covering their identities. Terrorists now have access to encryption tools, which they use to cover their identities.

Isis uses many social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr. They share their ideas and even videos of prisoners who are getting tortured or killed. Even blocking these terrorists account does not help, because Isis uses thousands accounts in order to be always online and active on social media. This problem has even been on the CNN News where they have discussed about Twitter which has been used multiple times by terrorist to spread their message.


Even Al-Qaeda is using social media platforms in order to influence other people to follow their thoughts or by sending manipulative texts or images. There is a slight different between the use of social media by Al-Qaeda and Isis. Isis has more a directive approach by even sending beheading videos to the world.

The use of social media as a marketing tool for companies and government is a well known example, but what can we do to stop or minimize the use of social media by terrorists. Only by blocking accounts of terrorist we won’t stop terrorism, because it’s easy to make another account. Should some social media platform block their platform for certain countries? Another solution could be by making some social media platforms more personal by asking for your passport numbers for example. It sounds crazy but you could minimize the use of social media by terrorism through this action. What other ideas do you have to solve or minimize this problem?


(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11207681/How-terrorists-are-using-social-media.html, 04 November 2014)


2 thoughts on “Terrorism using Social Media

  1. Great, interesting and relevant post about social media and terrorism groups. I do see those pictures/post of ISIS and Al-Qaeda on Facebook very often nowadays but I have never really thought about the way those groups use social media to spread their ideas (in a despicable way, ofcourse).

    As you’ve discussed in your post. The terrorist groups use those social media platforms to spread their ideas, the same way that companies use social media to advertise those products. Though they’re two ends of a spectrum, they do have the same goal and that is: influencing other people (One does it in a very despicable/disgusting manner, I think we can all agree to that).

    You gave great solutions to stop or reduce this problem. You suggested that social media should block their platform for certain countries, which is a great solution. But I dont think that platforms like Youtube, Facebook or Twitter are willing to block their platform for certain countries cause as you have already said, the terrorist could just create a new account and the fact that ISIS-followers are spread over the entire world wouldn’t really diminish the problem.

    Another solution you gave was that social media platforms should ask people their passport number. This is a very good solution and I think that this would actually reduce the problem. The only problem is that I don’t see people giving their passport number to platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Now those sites only ask for your email-adres (and giving your name is optional). A passport number might be linked to you bank account nummber your school and other personal stuff that some people would rather not give to social media. So I don’t think that a lot of people are willing to give their passport number to social media platforms.

    The main solution ofcourse would be to stop those terrorist groups from doing any harm to people but as you see in the news, that might be a hard thing to do.

    I’ve read this newspaper article (by Smith-Spark, L., 2014),which is almost the same as yours, that gave a possible solution to this problem. This article discusses Robert Hannigan’s suggestion that big tech firms must help cooperate in the fight against terror. This is a quote taken from Robert Hannigan about the social media use of ISIS:

    “They are exploiting the power of the web to create a jihadi threat with near-global reach. The challenge to governments and their intelligence agencies is huge — and it can only be met with greater co-operation from technology companies,” – Robert Hannigan

    I do have to say that he doesn’t give specific solutions. How will those tech companies combat terrorism? So this problem still bears discussion

    (http://edition.cnn.com/2014/11/04/world/europe/uk-intelligence-tech-firms/index.html, 04 Novermber 2014)

  2. These (global) tech companies have greater resources and more intelligence than the government has. If they cooperate, these encrypted terrorist accounts can be brought down and even traced with the help of worldwide organizations such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

    For example, the posted terrorist pictures and videos can be used to expose their location. I suppose everyone has heard the story of a terrorist who took a selfie and 22 hours later their headquarters where bombed by the US Air Force. (New York Post, 2015)

    Another example of catching terrorists via social media is that of the ‘Boston Bombers’, where the government and the people themselves started sharing pictures of the suspects on all kinds of social media, like Reddit. Thanks to this action the terrorists where caught. “It’s a phenomenon called crowdsourcing or crowdsleuthing.” (CBS, 2013)

    (http://nypost.com/2015/06/05/us-bombs-terror-hq-after-isis-moron-takes-selfie-there/, June 5, 2015)
    (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/social-media-and-the-search-for-the-boston-bombing-suspects/, April 24, 2013)

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