A lot has been said about the Islamic State’s use of social media for propaganda and recruitment, with the militants urging fellow jihadists to join its fight and boasting, in some detail, its exploits as it tries to seize large swathes of Iraq and Syria.
However, it now appears that the group has perhaps been too forthcoming with its online presence, having liberally disseminated photographs showing their supposedly opulent lifestyle while threatening violence, despite social media sites knowing valuable information about the users, and their messages holding important data on their whereabouts.
Pictures of severed heads and tweets by the Western women who’ve left their homes behind have all provided rich intelligence for America’s National Security Agency (NSA) or Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Financial Times has said.
According to the paper, an Arabic-language guidebook has been sent to Islamic State (Isis) fighters telling them to remove the metadata from anything they post online, including PDFs and other documents.
“A number of security gaps have appeared that have benefited the enemy and have helped expose the identities of some brothers or identify some sites used by the mujahideen with ease,” the handbook reportedly states.
Metadata tracks details such as the time, date and location of digital communications in actions such as the sending of an email or posting of a tweet, but they can be limited by simple commands such as turning off an app’s access to location data.
Some fighters are, however, being banned from putting content on social media altogether.
Isis is waging an online war with a dedicated enemy – the US government’s Centre for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), whose ‘Think AgainTurn Away’ campaign aims to “expose the facts about terrorists and their propaganda”.
The group’s paranoia is not unfounded, after it was revealed today that the British government is to demand more key information on extremists posting online from sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
They will be asked to hand over, amongst other thing, names and IP addresses on an 'automatic' basis, rather than simply when requested.
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