Tech & Terrorism: Facebook Accounts Hijacked To Spread Pro-ISIS Propaganda

(New York, N.Y.) – Hackers have hijacked Facebook accounts of prominent individuals to post ISIS propaganda. Australian journalist Julia Baird became the most recent victim this week, when her Facebook profile was compromised by unknown individuals. Baird’s profile was altered to feature an ISIS flag as the profile and cover photos, and her account was subsequently deleted by the platform after the ISIS content was uploaded.

The Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s report, Spiders of the Caliphate: Mapping the Islamic State's Global Support Network on Facebook details how ISIS followers work to exploit Facebook to host meetings, link to terrorist propaganda, and organize online. CEP observed and documented ISIS supporters’ activities in the report, such as the posting of full-length propaganda videos that were viewed thousands of times before removal and the hacking of non-ISIS accounts to share ISIS propaganda and post hateful and threatening messages.

Typically, when a pro-ISIS individual hacks a Facebook user’s account, the individual posts a message on that account profile stating that it “has been hacked by supporters of ISIS.” The Facebook profile info section is also changed to contain a similar message. These hacked profiles are then used to post hateful and threatening messages. In some cases, the Facebook profile info section is changed to include the phrase “we promise to slay him soon,” referring to the owner of the account. Often when posting such content, several of the account’s original friends are tagged in an attempt to achieve a greater impact. Several of the hacked profiles are then used to spread ISIS propaganda.

To read CEP’s resource, Spiders of the Caliphate: Mapping the Islamic State's Global Support Network on Facebook, please click here.

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On October 27, 2018, domestic terrorist Robert D. Bowers carried out an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He fired on congregants as they gathered for worship, killing 11 people and wounding six others.

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