ISIS publishes a ‘how to’ outfox Twitter guide

Terrorist group also expands to more Web platforms.

November 20, 2016 17:39
2 minute read.
Social Media

A 3D plastic representation of the Twitter and Youtube logo is seen in front of a displayed ISIS flag . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Islamic State’s presence on social media is here to stay even as it loses ground in Iraq and Syria and after a serious crackdown by Twitter. The terrorist entity has published a guide on how to outfox Twitter’s efforts, according to an advance copy of a report by the Jihadi Websites Monitoring Group of IDC’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism obtained by The Jerusalem Post.

The Amaq media group, which Islamic State uses to “raise awareness about safe and secure Internet use,” recently published several graphs on its Telegram instant messaging-service account regarding the organization’s activities on social networks, according to the report.

Amaq’s data includes some staggering statistics, namely that last month alone, 5,994 new Islamic State-linked accounts were opened, including 732 on Facebook, 5,162 on Twitter and 100 on Telegram, along with 50 virtual telephone numbers to be used to open fictitious accounts on social networks.

This means a 25% increase from September in its use of social networks.

Besides those published graphs, the ICT report said that Islamic State announced that it intends to expend “significant efforts on the wide distribution of the organization’s propaganda materials in light of the Twitter administration’s systematic removal of IS[IS] supporters’ accounts.”

To accomplish its goals, Islamic State provides several “tips on how to outfox the Twitter management and continue to publish propaganda materials,” and recommends that its supporters join the group’s efforts to distribute materials on social networks.

In another exclusive ICT advance-copy document obtained by the Post, it is reported that “Horizons” (Afaq), an Islamic State-affiliated media outlet, released a guide titled, “Introduction to I2P and the Darknet and how to use them,” providing instructions in Arabic on installation of I2P (Invisible Internet Project, an overlay network and Darknet that allows applications to send messages to each other pseudonymously and securely) on Android devices.

The guide was published on November 9 on a website that allows registered and anonymous users to store texts and images and distribute them using a public web page.

This platform is an overlay network part of the Darknet, a parallel online world to the Internet that can assist users in masking their identities.

According to the user guide described in the ICT report, “I2P provides a better solution than Tor [another Darknet-related program] as this network is faster and less vulnerable to cyberattacks” from the West as it tries to limit Islamic State’s online presence.

I2P was also mentioned as the encryption software recommended for the safety of Islamic State supporters in Belgium after the March 2016 attacks in Brussels, said the report.

Up until now, the I2P network was “used mainly for cyber-criminal activities,” and, unlike Tor, had not attained major popularity among jihadists.

But in late October, the report noted that the supervisor of the top-tier jihadi forum Shumukh al-Islam warned users about uploading links to Darknet sites as being overly vulnerable to Western hacking.

The organization’s push for using I2P reflects its attempts to adapt to new situations by adopting new technologies.

Using these social media and other platforms, Islamic State continues to distribute propaganda materials that frame its battles in terms of its fighters having the upper hand. The ICT report added that the organization attributes considerable importance to the conceptual aspect of its struggle with the West and others, leading it to prioritize “displaying a presence and visibility on social networks.”

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