Terror on Facebook

free essaySocial media is the effective way of communicating not only for ordinary citizens but also for terrorists. Among all social networks, the largest one is Facebook. The aim of this paper is to focus on how terrorist organizations, specifically ISIS, use Facebook for terrorist purposes, particularly in such unstable regions as Syria. The way terrorists use social network is compulsory to discover as this issue is new and not yet well studied; moreover, Facebook is the easiest way to approach the largest number of people in the world. The results of investigation may be particularly interesting to security experts, cyberterrorism experts as well as politicians. There are several more questions to study: is Facebook the only means with the help of which terrorists communicate; are the benefits from Facebook greater than harm in the world’s hot spots; for what target audience do terrorists use Facebook?

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The issue of using the Internet for the terrorist activity is of particular interest as it is vital for the security of humanity in general. In 2012, this question was actively discussed on the highest level, in the United Nations. Later, the report on this discussion was presented at a meeting in Vienna. It was prepared within the framework of the ratification of international legislation to combat cyber-terrorism and to improve transnational cooperation between law enforcement agencies (The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes 18). Besides, the representatives of the anti-terrorist organizations attended that United Nations meeting. The head of the Federal Security Service of the constitution of Germany Hans-Georg Maassen said that social networks like Facebook are becoming increasingly important (Fürstenau 1). Additionally, Maassen claimed that the presence of these social networks could lead terrorist organizations to the creation of relations that do not depend on the geographical position (Fürstenau 1).
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The report also stated that the terrorist organizations were actively using the Internet to promote extremist ideas. Thus, extremist rhetorics that encourages violence is increasingly applied through various Internet sites. This dissemination of ideas that justify violence is very popular in a variety of social online services. In addition to Facebook, terrorists are using YouTube, Telegram and Twitter. Reactions from these services on the report of the United Nations were unknown or absent. This is not the first time the question about the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes was raised. Earlier, in September 2012, the Ministry of Defense of Australia published a report, according to which the “Taliban” movement members created fake social networking site Facebook pages, allegedly belonging to a very attractive woman (Axe 1). That was the method of attracting attention and scouting Islamists soldiers.

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To solve the problem and lessen the risk of terrorism activities through Facebook, the US senators in July asked Facebook, Google and Apple to support the proposed legislation on cyber security. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also said on October 12 that the Pentagon and the US intelligence agencies observed an increase in cyber threats that can actually threaten national security if the criminals are not stopped (Bumiller and Shanker 1).

Terrorists can easily collect personal data of people and know about their plans. To confirm that, in summer 2010, Ron Bowes, a specialist in the field of cybersecurity, has published personal information of 100 million Facebook users on the Internet (Jamieson 2). Its initial purpose was to compile a list of user logins for the Ncrack project (computer systems vulnerability analysis system). Later, however, he decided to draw everyone’s attention to the carelessness with which most people publish their personal data on the Internet. This information is very important for me personally as I am an active Facebook user who rarely thoroughly thought about the contents of my posts.

Furthermore, terrorists utilizing Facebook for purposes violate cybersecurity. There is even a term “cyber-jihad” (Facebook and Other Social Media ‘used for Cyber-jihad). By some estimates, every year the global economy loses $ 114 billion due to cybercrime (Facebook and Other Social Media ‘used for Cyber-jihad). In recent years, cybercrime has become more organized and gained business form. Actions by hackers focused on generating long-term revenue. Moreover, companies’ losses can be attributed not only to the direct damage from hacker attacks, but also to spending on defense against cyber-attacks.

Recently, the ISIS terrorists marketing techniques in social networks became striking. Up to this point, no terrorist organization or group has used social networks and their capabilities as it does ISIS. They use Facebook for a variety of purposes that include raising money and recruiting supporters, as well as for the coordination of their action. Along with this, ISIS terrorists actively spread in social networks their films, appeals and threats. ISIS experts have even created a mobile application to spread their news and a shop where people can buy all sorts of “souvenirs” with symbols of ISIS. All this suggests that the world is dealing with quite a serious opponent, a well-organized, with good infrastructure, communications and equipment.

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Some experts believe that the fight against terrorists in the social networks is a limitation of freedom of speech. Terrorists, who have more time to influence society minds using its activities in social networks, can effectively use that unnecessary referring to freedom of speech. Social networks have to respond adequately to the current situation. Moreover, the critics of the terrorists use another argument claiming that it is useless to block and close the pages in the social networks of terrorists as they create new ones. Thus, the fight against terrorists in social networks and in the global information space should not be limited to deleting accounts, sites and pages from Facebook. They need to achieve full and unconditional elimination of these resources from the search engines. The responsibility related to these issues lies on the media. Actually, the media should avoid advertising terrorists’ accounts in social networks. Moreover, media does not need to specify the clickable links that lead to sites or pages terrorists. Since February 2010, over 95,000 pieces of terrorist content have been removed from the Internet (How Social Media Is Used to Encourage Travel to Syria and Iraq).

I would like to show how terrorists used Facebook while preparing operations in Syria. Essentially, Facebook in this country was the way of communicating with the rest of the world. Social media gave the Syrians a chance to tell the world about their suffering. Nevertheless, at the same time they have become a target audience of propaganda and information war. Moreover, all parties of the conflict that included the supporters of Bashar al-Assad and the ISIS terrorists used Facebook. This social network is multinational, so terrorists could hire both local and foreign fighters. Besides, ISIS used propaganda to encourage people to travel to Syria. They could reach special people saying that war in Syria is a Muslim’s duty or that ISIS is meant to defend the Sunnis from the Assad regime (How Social Media Is Used to Encourage Travel to Syria and Iraq). The risk is also that Facebook’s progress against the actions of terrorists and ISIS is slow.

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In conclusion, social networks such as Facebook are becoming more and more relevant because now terrorists can develop the ties regardless of frontiers. They can easily access the audience they require. The most activities of terrorists, particularly ISIS, are connected with recruiting, spreading information, propaganda, posting video, and communication. Unfortunately, Facebook is not very successful in elimination the terrorist content. The examples of threat because of ISIS using Facebook was obvious in Syria where even attacks were planned through that social network.