Social media biggest online terrorist threat says MI6

Posted on October 21, 2015


A former director for the UK’s foremost source of foreign intelligence has said that social media sites are the main weapons wielded by internet-savvy terrorists.

Richard Barrett, a counter-terrorism expert, spoke of the prowess of organisations such as Islamic State at the recent London First Global Resilience Summit 2015.

The former diplomat and director of MI6 told of the “extreme ability” of the group in using social media, citing the fact that it publishes more than 40 updates and messages per day.

He cited Mehdi Masroor Biswas, thought to have been in control of the IS account on Twitter and responsible for more than 140,000 posts and gaining 18,000 followers. Mr. Barrett said:

“Biswas is said to have had about two million views per month for his tweets, so very effective in promoting the ideas of IS[…] That is a big propaganda output, with most of it around themes that its followers are responding to[…]”

The claim comes as no big surprise for many internet marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) specialists, given the pervasiveness of social media. A recent study by the Pew Research Center showed that social media usage in the US had increase ten-fold in the last decade, so terrorists will have seen how effective it is in connecting people and businesses, and decided that it was an effective way to communicate and recruit new followers.

In formulating a response to the use of social media by IS, Mr. Barrett made a plea for legislation, claiming that worldwide conventions on what should not be allowed on sites like Twitter and Facebook are a long way off.

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