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November 3, 2015

“Telegram” is Latest Platform for Terror Propaganda

ISIS propaganda on the Telegram app

ISIS propaganda on the Telegram app

Update – 11/19/2015: Telegram updated its terms of service to include a means for removing illegal public content on November 18, 2015 and has since removed multiple ISIS channels from its platform.

As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other terror groups continue to seek out new platforms to broadcast their propaganda and connect with supporters, they have migrated to using Telegram, a chat and group application available for smartphones and desktop, as their primary medium for official propaganda.

Terror supporters continue to share and disseminate propaganda on Twitter, Facebook and other traditional social media platforms. However, the terms of service on those platforms reject users who actively encourage violent extremism and the platforms have been very active in removing content and users flagged for violations of those terms of service. Official terrorist accounts have therefore found them fully inhospitable, and even the accounts of terrorist supporters are regularly removed.

According to Telegram’s terms of service, however, “All Telegram chats and group chats are private territory of their respective participants and we do not process any requests related to them.” As such, the platform does not have effective policies prohibiting extremist speech.  That environment has enabled official terrorist channels to use Telegram as the first point of dissemination for official ISIS propaganda and for Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), an Al Qaeda affiliated media organization.

Users can join groups on Telegram that function similarly to Twitter feeds, releasing a steady stream of content originated by the group’s owner. Among the groups currently operating on Telegram are more than 13 official ISIS accounts in multiple languages including Arabic, English, French and German, an official English-language account for the GIMF, and several unofficial pro-ISIS propaganda groups.

The English-language accounts created on Telegram include Khilafah News, a pro-ISIS account that boasts 2023 members; Nashir English, an official ISIS account, with 1352 members; and an official GIMF account with 1129 members.

Among the materials that have been released on Telegram are the second issue of a new English-language Al Qaeda magazine, Al Risalah, which calls on Westerners to join and fight on behalf of Al Qaeda.

The ISIS English-language Telegram account Nashir English also directs readers to find and download propaganda on a site on WordPress. Like Telegram, WordPress’s terms of service do not explicitly prohibit extremist propaganda, and so ISIS and other terrorist  groups can exploit the website without fear of being taken down. The new WordPress site linked from the Telegram account features all of ISIS’s most recent propaganda releases as well as ‘major releases,’ ‘Top 10 Videos,’ and past issues of ISIS’s English-language magazine, Dabiq. The English site also links to equivalent WordPress sites in German, Bosnian and Arabic. Additional links from the English site to equivalent sites in other languages on Blogspot, which is hosted by Google, were removed after ADL notified Google of their presence.

The WordPress site emphasizes ISIS’s ongoing presence on Twitter and lists Twitter hashtags that correspond with official ISIS propaganda material.

In addition to maintaining groups on Telegram, terror organizations are also able to engage in chats with supporters and potential recruits. The encouragement of active participation by supporters engages the supporters in dialogue with hardened extremists, furthering the supporters’ radicalization processes.

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February 12, 2015

The Right to Be Forgotten Has No Place in the U.S.

right-to-be-forgottenThe right to be forgotten—the right of Internet users to request that search engines remove links to outdated or embarrassing information about themselves from search results—is once more in the headlines in Europe. Recently, following up on a previous European Court of Justice ruling that individuals have the right to ask search engines to remove links to “inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant” information about themselves online, European regulators and judges have called for Google and other search engines to apply the Right to Be Forgotten around the world, regardless of which country the search engine serves and where the search takes place. However, the Advisory Council that Google appointed to look into the issue has recommended that Google limit its response to European-directed search services, such as google.fr (used in France) and google.de (used in Germany) and not extend it outside the European Union. That Council, in a new report, found that there is “a competing interest on the part of users outside of Europe to access information via a name-based search in accordance with the laws of their country, which may be in conflict with the delistings afforded by the ruling.”  ADL agrees with their recommendation.

Last November the Anti-Defamation League adopted a policy position that “individuals should not have the right to have links to old and/or embarrassing information about themselves removed from Internet search results.” Doing so is tantamount to taking a scalpel to library books, allowing people to tear from public record things about themselves from the past that they simply do not like. The Right to Be Forgotten could allow, for example, a white supremacist to erase all traces of his history of bigoted rhetoric before running for public office, denying the public access to make a fully informed decision.

The Internet has provided the largest and most robust marketplace of ideas in history, opening lines of communication around the world. As the Internet brings the world closer, however, countries must be cognizant of the impact that their laws and regulations have in other parts of the world. In the United States the First Amendment provides much stronger protections for free speech than the laws do in Europe. Americans, and search engines based in the United States, should continue to respect the laws and founding principles of our country, denying the right to be forgotten here.


El Derecho a Ser Olvidado No Tiene Lugar en Estados Unidos

El derecho a ser olvidado —el derecho de los usuarios de Internet a solicitar que los motores de búsqueda eliminen de los resultados de búsqueda los vínculos a información desactualizada o vergonzosa sobre sí mismos— está una vez más en los titulares europeos. Recientemente, a consecuencia de un fallo anterior de un tribunal de justicia europeo según el cual los individuos tienen el derecho de pedir que los motores de búsqueda eliminen los enlaces a información en línea “inadecuada, irrelevante o no pertinente” sobre sí mismos, los jueces y reguladores europeos han pedido a Google y otros motores de búsqueda aplicar el derecho a ser olvidado alrededor del mundo, independientemente del país del buscador y de donde se realiza la búsqueda. Sin embargo, el Consejo Asesor que designó Google para investigar el tema, ha recomendado que Google limite su respuesta a los servicios de búsqueda enfocados a Europa específicamente, como google.fr (utilizado en Francia) y google.de (usado en Alemania), y que no la aplique fuera de la Unión Europea. El mismo Consejo, en un nuevo informe, encontró que hay “un interés conflictivo de parte de los usuarios fuera de Europa por acceder a la información mediante una búsqueda basada en el nombre de conformidad con las leyes de su país, que pueden estar en conflicto con la opción de eliminación ofrecida por la sentencia”. La ADL está de acuerdo con su recomendación.

En noviembre pasado la Liga Antidifamación adoptó una posición política según la cual “las personas no deberían tener el derecho a que los enlaces a información vieja o vergonzosa sobre sí mismos sean eliminados de los resultados de búsqueda en Internet”. Hacerlo equivaldría a aplicar un bisturí a libros de la biblioteca, permitiendo a la gente arrancar de los archivos públicos cosas sobre sí mismos que simplemente no les gustan. El Derecho a Ser Olvidado podría permitir, por ejemplo, que un supremacista blanco borrara todos los rastros de su historia de retórica intolerante antes de postularse para cargos públicos, negando al público la posibilidad de tomar una decisión completamente informada.

Internet ha proporcionado el mercado más grande y robusto de ideas en la historia, abriendo líneas de comunicación alrededor del mundo. Sin embargo, a medida que Internet acerca al mundo, los países deben ser conscientes del impacto que sus leyes y regulaciones tienen en otras partes del mundo. En Estados Unidos, la Primera Enmienda proporciona garantías a la libertad de expresión mucho más fuertes que las leyes en Europa. Los estadounidenses y los motores de búsqueda con sede en Estados Unidos deben seguir respetando las leyes y principios fundacionales de nuestro país, negando el derecho a ser olvidados.

 

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July 16, 2014

Hamas’s Ongoing Social Media War

Update: July 17 – Since this blog was posted, the Al Aqsa Today, Quds TVandIzzat Al Risheq Facebook pages are no longer available.

As Hamas continues to target Israelis with rockets from Gaza, the Palestinian terrorist organization is using a range of Internet and social media platforms to disseminate its propaganda, news and updates.hamas-social-media-twitter-facebook-youtube-rockets

The following is a sampling of Twitter handles, YouTube channels, Facebook pages, Google+ pages and other online platforms being exploited by Hamas. While some Internet platforms have made efforts to curtail these efforts in the past by removing Hamas-run accounts, the terrorist group continues to actively engage on all of these sites.

In addition to these accounts, there are countless others operated by supporters of the terrorist organization and in various languages.

The ADL’s Cyber-Safety Action Guide enables the community to register concerns with Internet service providers when they encounter terrorist content such as this.

 Hamas Media Office

The Hamas press office and Information Agency. In addition to its website, it has active presence on Twitter.

  • Media Office – Hamas The Twitter handle for the Hamas Media Office.  It is cross-linked with the Twitter feeds of senior Hamas political leaders.

Izzedeen al-Qassam Brigades

The Izzedeen al-Qassam Brigades (shortened to ‘Qassam Brigades’) is the Hamas military wing. This is the wing of Hamas that has stockpiled and developed weapons including rockets and drones and is firing them at Israel. In addition to websites in Arabic, Hebrew and English, the Qassam Brigades has active presence on Twitter, YouTube and Google+.

  • Qassam Media The Twitter handle for the Qassam Brigades. Visitors are directed to this page via link from the Qassam Brigades website.
  • Al-Qassam Brigades The Hebrew-language Twitter handle for the Qassam Brigades. It is also sometimes retweeted by the Arabic Qassam Brigades feed. Visitors are directed to this page via link from the Hebrew language Qassam Brigades website.
  • Resistance MediaThe Google+ Page for the Qassam Brigades. It is cross-linked and shares content with the Qassam Brigades’ Resistance Media YouTube channel.
  • Resistance Media– The YouTube channel for the Qassam Brigades. The Qassam Brigades website directs visitors to this channel via link. Many of the videos have English titles.
  • Palestine IntifadaYouTube channel apparently linked to Hamas and the Qassam Brigades. Most, if not all videos on this channel are official Qassam Brigades videos. They have been Tweeted by official Qassam Brigades twitter accounts

Izzat Al Risheq

Izzat Al Risheq is a Hamas spokesman and senior official. There are active Facebook and Twitter accounts in his name.

  • Izzat Al RisheqThe Facebook page for Izaat Al Risheq. It features the same content as his Twitter feed.
  • Izzat Risheq The Twitter handle for Izaat Al Risheq. This is one of only two accounts that the Hamas Twitter account follows.

Al Aqsa TV

Al Aqsa TV is a Hamas-run television station that promotes terrorist activity and incites hatred of Jews and Israelis. In addition to its website, it has active presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

  • Al Aqsa Today – The Facebook page for Al Aqsa TV. The Al Aqsa TV website directs visitors to this page via link.
  • Al Aqsa TV Chanel The Twitter handle for Al Aqsa TV. The Al Aqsa TV website directs visitors to this handle via link.
  • Alaqsa TVChannelYouTube channel for Al Aqsa TV. Visitors are directed to this link from the Al Aqsa TV website.

Al Quds TV

Al Quds TV is a Hamas-run television station that promotes terrorist activity and incites hatred of Jews and Israelis. In addition to its website, it has active presence on Facebook and YouTube.

  • Quds TVThe Facebook page for Al Quds TV. The Al Quds TV website directs visitors to this page via link.
  • Quds TVSatYouTube channel for Al Quds TV. Visitors are directed to this link from the Al Quds TV website.

Alray Media Agency

The Alray Media Agency is a Hamas affiliated media agency owned by the Gaza-based Information Office of the Palestinian Government. In addition to its website, it has active presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as well as an application available on ITunes and Google Play.

  • Alray Media AgencyThe Facebook page for Alray Media Agency. The Alray Media website directs visitors to this page via link.
  • Alray Media AgencyThe Twitter handlefor Alray Media Agency. The Alray Media website directs visitors to this page via link.
  • AlraypsenThe YouTube channel for Alray Media Agency. The Alray Media website directs visitors to this page via link.
  • AlRay Palestinian Media Agency – An application for ITunes and Google Play developed by the Hamas Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology. The application claims to be for “a Palestinian media agency speaking in the name of the Palestinian government, it expresses the opinion of the glorious Palestinian people, deals with their concerns and adopts their causes and positions.” It is advertised on the Alray website.

Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology (MTIT)

The MTIT is a Gaza-based Palestinian government agency. Due to its location in Gaza, its primary affiliation is therefore assumed to be to Hamas (despite the recent Palestinian unity pact).

  • Electronic Information –An application from the Hamas Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology (MTIT) that “allows government employees in Gaza to inquire about mail payments, salaries and other services.” It is advertised on the MTIT website.
  • Dalely-Palestinian Orgs Guide –An application from the Hamas MTIT that provides a directory to communicate with various governmental and non-governmental organizations in Gaza including Hamas government apparatus.

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