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Monday, March 2, 2015

Twitter Founder Threatened As ISIS Supporters Protest Social Media Censorship

Oh, the irony. Supporters of the Islamic State (ISIS) are up in arms over the crackdown by western governments and social media sites on their online campaigns saying these moves violate their right to free speech. 

According to online newspaper The Daily Dot a "day of action" is being planned to protest Twitter's bans on using the hashtags #IslamicStateMedia and #الحملة_العالمية_لنصرة_الدولة_الإسلامية."  As of February 26, over 20,000 accounts were also closed with more expected to follow.  Other social media sites are following suit with Youtube and Facebook suspending jihadist channels, accounts and pages since late last year.

Propaganda and recruitment tool 

The internet, particularly social media sites, is a vital recruitment and propaganda tool for the self-styled Islamic State. It also serves as communication backbone for many jihadists worldwide. The group has proven time again to be very astute and savy internet users. Pro ISIS users even managed to hack the official Twitter account of the US Central Command (CENTOM) last January, a feat that embarrassed and unnerved several people in the US government.

According to the Brookings Institute, a US-based non profit policy group, there were as many as 45,000 Twitter accounts are used by ISIS supporters. However this figure went down when Twitter started suspending users by the hundreds, if not thousands last October 2014.

Death Threats Vs Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey

The campaign to rid the popular micro blogging site seems to be gaining a lot of success that even some ISIS supporters have turned their ire on Twitter's founder, entrepreneur Jack Dorsey 

JM Berger of Brookings Institute told the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs that as many as 18,000 Twitter accounts were suspended from late 2014 to January 2015. In the same testimony, Berger also said that these suspensions have certainly affected the social media activities of ISIS sympathizers. Even more so, anti-ISIS groups have gained ground in degrading the extremist group's online message.

Anonymous Wages War Against Jihadists

Pro ISIS social media accounts are also facing cyber attacks from the hacker group Anonymous who launched Operation Ice ISIS & OpCharlieHebdo in response to the the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. Just last month, Anonymous claimed to have shutdown 800 ISIS-linked Twitter accounts and staged attacks on dozens of jihadi websites.
Hacking group Anonymous declared war against jihadists in response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre

The online war between ISIS and it's enemies goes on and it looks like there's no end in sight yet. Just as bombs, missiles and gunfire are exchanged between the parties, cyber warfare among the major player is expected heat up so more.

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