#TerrorismAndTwitter: How Terrorists are Utilizing Social Media and What it Suggests for National Security

Twitter Logo According to a new report by Gabriel Weimann of the Woodrow Wilson Center, “Twitter has recently emerged as terrorist’s favorite Internet service, even more popular than self-designed websites or Facebook, to disseminate propaganda and enable internal communication.” In his report titled “New Terrorism and New Media”, Weimann states that the use of new media such as social media is not a new trick in the terrorist’s handbook. Establishing a cyber presence was a logical step in the modernization of terrorism, and with this presence terrorist organizations can reach out to thousands of followers at one time. Websites and webpages can promote their messages and activities and serve as a platform for propaganda, radicalization, recruitment, and planning. Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Flikr, and more 

…are by far the most popular with [the terrorists’] intended audience, which allows terrorist organizations to be part of the mainstream. Second, social media channels are user-friendly, reliable, and free. Finally, social networking allows terrorists to reach out to their target audiences and virtually “knock on their doors”—in contrast to older models of websites in which terrorists had to wait for visitors to come to them.

Twitter is the network of choice for many terrorists. It is used to disseminate terrorist publications, practical communications, and propaganda. “Twitter has increasingly come under criticism for hosting terror feeds,” said Weimann. Though Twitter holds fastidiously to the concept of free speech, it has pulled certain antisemitic or anti-Islamic tweets and even shut down numerous accounts due to public pressure. Twitter is the most popular media for terrorist organizations, but “YouTube is among the most important media platforms” for jihadi support purposes.  

To read more about new media (social media) and terrorist activity, please click here to view the resource by Weimann in the HSDL collection (login required). Click here to read Twitter is the Preferred Social Media Platform Among Terrorists.

Documents can be found on the HSDL site regarding Social Media and Terrorism. Please note that log-in may be required.

Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/terrorismandtwitter-how-terrorists-are-utilizing-social-media-and-what-it-suggests-for-national-security