According to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report “Terrorist Use of Social Networking Sites: Facebook Case Study”, Terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda are using Facebook to share operational information and to target, recruit and radicalize 500million members of Facebook.
Th DHS report reveals that terrorists are using social networking sites especially facebook for quite some time.
The report also revealed the way terrorists and jihadists use facebook for their purpose. Some of them are:
1 – A way to share operational and tactical information, including bomb recipes and weapons maintenance.
2 – A gateway to extremist forums. In this way, Facebook acts as a gateway or launching pad for further radicalization and for easy access to sites where explosives recipes and IED information are regularly posted.
3 – A media outlet for propaganda.
4 – A source of remote reconnaissance for targeting purposes.
According to report investigators also have found some thread on radical forums regarding the need to make “serious efforts to optimize Facebook usage” and “Use Facebook as a platform for reaching a wider, younger audience”
Steve Graham, senior director for EC Council, a cyber security certification membership organization, said: “Every person who connects to the Internet with a computer needs to take this issue seriously. Reports like this show we are figuratively sitting next to terrorists. So are our friends, our kids and anyone else who types www”.
Graham added: “Concerning factor here is the speed at which an entire demographic can be located and communicated with. DHS mentions the use of social media to find groups with similar interests. Fact is, what used to take months to get a few recruits who meet the right criteria is now on a harvested mailing list. Groups are being communicated to in the hundreds, speeding up recruiting efforts.”
Jeff Bardin, chief security strategist at security firm XA Systems, said: “The youth who come to Facebook looking for jihadist information are the Generation X and Y youth who also don’t worry too much about the security of their profiles and what they post, providing easy prey for intelligence agencies worldwide to access, infiltrate and fully penetrate those wishing to learn.”
A Facebook spokesman said: “We react quickly to reports of inappropriate content and behavior. Groups that threaten violence towards people are taken down, as are groups that express hatred towards individuals and those sponsored by recognized terrorist organizations.”
But the report pointed out that the information is not screened before being posted, and can be seen by those waiting for it before it is removed.