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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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October 20, 2015

This Intifada is in Your Social Media Feed

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This article originally appeared on The Times of Israel Blog

The knife, brandished in the air and dripping with blood, is the icon of the current wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis. This visual is the new symbol celebrating the seemingly non-stop proliferation of attacks by Palestinians against Israelis – many of them stabbings – and incites more hate, more terror, more violence to an audience primed to act on it.

“The Social Media Intifada” is the title being used for the current spate of terror attacks, featured on Facebook and other social media platforms, where Palestinian attackers are celebrated as martyrs, heroes and even as victims of Israeli brutality. On Twitter, potential terrorists are exhorted to stab and kill Jews. Videos of Muslim preachers calling for attacks on Jews (one while holding a knife),even instructional videos on how to stab effectively, go viral. Proliferating on social media are cartoons of attacks on Israelis and allegations of a Jewish/Israeli conspiracy to take over the Al Aqsa mosque.

Palestinian incitement to violence isn’t new, but the medium and the method is. During previous periods of Palestinian violence – such as the Second Intifada – we saw calls for violence and widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Public squares, parks and schools were named in honor of those who perpetrated terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. Popular songs celebrated the attackers. But behind most of the prior violent chapters of the conflict, it was the Palestinian leadership – the PLO, Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, and others – who were promoting and enabling the hate-filled messages and the violent action. Last Autumn, while social media emerged as a means of celebrating and encouraging violence against Israelis, its impact was limited.

To be sure, in this current period, PA President Abbas and other leadership are poisoning the atmosphere with incendiary rhetoric. His fantastical allegation last week that Israel had “executed” a Palestinian boy – who was in reality being treated in an Israeli hospital after stabbing a 13-year-old riding his bicycle near his Jerusalem home – is only the most recent example.

However, at present, Israeli security experts say social media – not Palestinian leaders – is the primary force driving the violence. The incitement, the misinformation, and the hate that inspire the stabbings, shootings, rock throwing and car ramming attacks are spreading via smart phone — and constantly. Terrorists who were killed mid-attack are upheld as heroes and martyrs, their deadly actions ignored.

And, yes, there are also Israelis who are posting hate-filled incendiary messages, including calls for “death to Arabs” and a “second Nakba.” While there have been only a handful of violent attacks by Israelis against Arabs in recent weeks, the risk of more Israeli violence increases as this crisis goes on.

Social media can mobilize for good and for evil. Democratic forces in the Jasmine Revolution and Tahrir Square used Twitter and Facebook to organize against authoritarian rule in the Arab Spring. Viral videos of people dumping ice water on their heads raised millions to find a cure for ALS. Social media has raised public awareness of a plethora of social justice issues – from #BringBackOurGirls to #BlackLivesMatter. But social media has also enabled ISIS and other extremist terrorist groups and their supporters to recruit youth from around the world to join their violent cause. And on this side of the ledger, we can add the current wave of violence.

ADL promotes two approaches to address this problem: removing incendiary speech and challenging hate speech with good speech. For years, we have been working with social media companies to improve policies and protocols for the removal of content that incites violence or bigotry, content that is contrary to the companies’ terms of service. But we also promote counter-speech, where activists and all concerned people use social media to condemn violence, to urge moderation, and even to try to dissuade potential terrorists before they move to action.

The reality is, what happens online reflects what’s going on in society. In order for counter-speech to be an effective tool addressing the “social media Intifada,” those with influence, whether in the online world or in world capitols, need to condemn Palestinian incitement and terrorism clearly and unequivocally. Internet users who come across calls for violence online, should report it immediately to the internet provider (see our guide to learn how). In many cases, such content violates their terms of service and the page will be removed.

The social media companies we work with are making good faith efforts to enforce their policies, but the content that appears online cannot be divorced from real-world hate. It is still too early to know how this current chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will develop. Let’s hope responsible voices and action prevail.

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October 15, 2015

Instructional Content On How To Stab Jews Spreads On Social Media

Update – 10/20/15: After alerting Google, Facebook and Twitter to the problematic material cited in this blog post, all the items have been removed by those services in a prompt manner. 

As violence escalates in Israel, content has emerged across social media platforms—including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter—not only urging people to stab Jews, but providing instructional information on how to stab people and which knives to use.

The following is a sampling of Arabic-language posts ADL has identified in the past several days specifically providing information about how to stab victims. While such content is available is many languages, the Arabic language content seems geared toward Arabic speakers in Israel.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is alerting various social media companies about this content. ADL continues to work with the industry to improve policies and protocols for the removal of content that triggers violence or promotes bigotry, content that is contrary to the companies’ terms of service.

ADL continues to encourage the public to report such content. ADL Cyber-Safety Action Guide provides quick and easy access to company policies and complaint forms.

  • A video featuring two masked men demonstrating several stabbing techniques is available on several YouTube channels. The video, posted on October 5, is listed under several titles, including “Learn how to stab a Jew.” The video is also circulating on Facebook and Twitter.YouTube stab image
  • A number of Twitter users started posting a graphic last week describing what type of knife should be used for stabbing attacks in Israel. The image includes the following instructions: “Circulate: Regarding the Youth in the occupied lands, they must use serrated knives in stabbing so the air can enter the body of the target, which leads to immediate death, and the destruction of organs when the knife is pulled.”

“[Right side, in red] Use this”    “[Left side, in green] don’t use this”

Twitter stab image

  •  Other Twitter users using an Arabic hashtag “Slaughtering the Jews” posted a message that reads: “Don’t hesitate in using this quality (vegetable knife) as it’s the strongest in causing pain #SlaughteringtheJews.” Below is an example from October 8.Twitter 2 stab image
  • Several Twitter users recommend attaching a camera to the knife to record the stabbing in HD. For example, the tweet below from October 5 includes an image of a GoPro camera attached to a knife and hashtags that translate to  “West Bank is uprising” “Stab a soldier with a knife to liberate Palestine” and  “Intifada started.”Twitter 3 stab image
  • The following image posted on Facebook on October 14 shows a diagram of the circulatory system with suggestions of areas to stab. The image was included with an Arabic Facebook hashtag “Stab.”Facebook stab image.
  • The following image posted on Instagram on October 12 reads, “When you stab, put poison on the knife or soak the knife in vinegar. Stab with a screw driver and insert it in the neck….stabber stabber stab correctly.”Instagram stab image

 

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