ISIS’ New War Front, Your Twitter Feed

An ISIS propaganda photo posted on several social media sites

Photograph: Internet

An ISIS propaganda photo posted on several social media sites

Authorities like the FBI and State Department have recently reported that about 20 American citizens were detained last year attempting to travel to Syria to join militant groups aligned with ISIS. Many more people are recruited abroad through social media like Facebook and Twitter.

Obviously people are demanding that social media companies do more to stop the terrorists, yet they’re also being asked by some western government agencies to *keep some ISIS propaganda up* in order to track the group.

One notable scenario in which social media was used to lure people to the group was that of 19-year-old Mohammed Hamzab Khan and his two younger siblings. The trio was apprehended by the FBI at O’Hare National Airport in October. Khan was charged with providing materials to promote a terrorist organization, which means money or other supplies, usually.

Social media is crucial to the recruitment front, and terrorist organizations are surprisingly good at it. Their backward ideals regarding say, women’s rights, has in no way handicapped their way with technology or the subtle psychology of their message.  Between glorification of military operations and specially-chosen soundtracks, the videos resonate extremely well with the target audiences.

ISIS also manages hundreds of active Twitter accounts, which makes it easy for their posts and hashtags to become trending.

ISIS even went so far as to publish an online magazine, The Islamic State Report, which describes ideal life in the Islamic State, and even–wait for it–sell specially made T-shirts.  What’s a good media campaign without those?

The problem, however, is the outside pressure on social media networks.  One side of the argument is ‘ban the propaganda,” which is possible, as privately-owned websites don’t have to abide by the First Amendment. But on the other side, some experts say that taking down the content might not be all that useful either.  A recruiting effort that we can’t see might be worse than the one we do see.

This is a very delicate situation, and there really isn’t a right solution. On one side, social media companies could ban the material, and lose the opportunity to analyze and track the terrorist organizations. Or they could keep the material, and put more people at risk. The best solution might be to control it, begin limiting content, but not all content, to allow for further analyzation and tracking.

Nobody really knows what’s going to happen, but everybody recognizes that something has to be done soon.  Teenagers joining terror cells because it looks like just an edgy way to rebel is going to end badly.