ISIS and Social Media

By Rebecca Taylor


Social media and terrorism don’t seem like they go hand in hand, but with the rise of ISIS it’s association has become clear. Terrorism through twitter became known to the public around 2014, and they found an estimated 46,000 personal accounts connected to ISIS. Twitter continuously shut down terrorist accounts, but the suspended accounts were continuously replaced. The most significant ISIS twitter accounts tweeted at a high volume, and out of the 46,000 only 500-2,000 were making the biggest impact. These accounts were most likely to get suspended, and were dealt with quickly by twitter.

Since 2015 there have been six terrorist acts in the US. These attacks were carried out by home grown terrorists, normal people who had been brainwashed by ISIS through the internet. The most significant of these was the San Bernardino attack and the Pulse nightclub attack.

The issue with social media is that it is accessible to everyone. That’s a great thing, and it’s also a terrible thing. The ISIS terrorism movement spoke to the disheartened, and brainwashed them into doing awful crimes against humanity. All the propaganda was at their fingertips, and for the first time ever terrorism could be retweeted. There are no walls that can be built to keep them out. The communication is digital, and containing it is proving to be a major challenge. It’s not just in the US either. It’s all over the world. ISIS groomed an Indian student to commit the first ISIS attack on Indian soil, and they taught him and encouraged him from Syria. Attacks are being carried out all over the world, and they come from just one source. This is the danger of social media. Social media spreads big ideas, and unfortunately it can spread evil ones too.

A manual called “Oh Media Correspondent, You Are The Mujahid”  was discovered, that teaches the ISIS members on how to spread the message through social media. Some tips include following your followers, and following trending hashtags. It urged its followers to not focus on getting followers, just to focus on publishing as much content as possible, and to us trending hashtags on the posts. They also had guides on what posts should look like. The jihadists have social media wrapped around their finger, and this manual is especially scary.



Callimachi, Rukmini. “Not ‘Lone Wolves’ After All: How ISIS Guides World’s Terror Plots From Afar.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 Feb. 2017. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

Berger, J.M., and Jonathon Morgan. “The ISIS Twitter census: Defining and describing the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter | Brookings Institution.” Brookings. Brookings, 28 July 2016. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

Shiloach, Gilad. “”Monitor The Media For Lies”: Inside ISIS’ Social Media Strategy.” Vocativ. Vocativ, 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

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UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism