It’s not called the World Wide Web for nothing.
Because all of the social media outlets are easily accessible around the globe, terrorists groups have been able to use them to spread their messages. These networks have been able to create videos, memes and images supporting their message through the use of encryption coding methods.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are walking a line between allowing free speech rights and publishing terrorist propaganda. Here’s how some of the social platforms are dealing with it:
1.) Twitter. The social network recently announced that they have suspended 125,000 accounts believed to be connected with terrorism since about mid 2015. According to The New York Times, one of the suspended accounts was of @Musliiiiimah_1. A report by a group that tracks terrorist communications said the account posted a message on Twitter hours after the San Bernardino killings in December indicating that the attacks were ISIS retaliation against the United States.
ISIS is also said to use Twitter widely. Twitter has been cooperating with law enforcement investigations regarding terrorism, and has expanded their own groups that review accounts associated with terrorism.
2.) Google. A Google pilot program would involve sending anti-radicalization links to those parties who search the site for terrorist language. According to The Telegraph, the plan would offer grants to non-governmental organizations and anti-extremist groups to place links to their sites on Google AdWords.
AdWords has become Google’s top source of revenue. It shows up on Google’s search results pages.
3.) YouTube. The Google subsidiary has been working hard to counter terrorism. The video service counts heavily on its users to self-police the site for questionable content. According to CNET, in 2014 YouTube gave “super flagger” status to about 200 people to flag content that violates their community guidelines. The flaggers included a British police unit.
Google executive Anthony House that 14 million extremist videos were taken down from YouTube in 2014. YouTube also takes requests from the U.S. government to take down objectionable material.
4.) Facebook. Facebook has teams that speak a dozen local languages among those who review its content. According to CNBC, Facebook responded to 17,577 U.S. law enforcement requests for information during the first half of 2015. Those requests have gone up 53 percent since 2013.
Facebook reviews its content 24 hours a day, and employees receive specialized training to identify terrorism-related material.
5.) Instagram. Instagram suggests that users simply follow the law. The Instagram Help Center notes “Instagram is not a place to support or praise terrorism, organized crime, or hate groups.” They also don’t tolerate offering sexual services, buying or selling firearms and illegal or prescription drugs.
Better policing work on social media may be the best way to clean up terroristic content. Social media sites often don’t know about offensive content on their pages until it has been posted.
Terrorists have been holding encrypted conversations on social media for years now, and are getting better at it. The Telegraph notes that Al-Qaeda has been on the Internet for nearly 20 years, while the Taliban has been using Twitter since 2011.