ISIS has been broadly threatening the U.S. because of its airstrikes against the group that scandalously lead to killing of two American journalists. The group has also threatened to behead a British citizen as retaliation to the United Kingdom’s contribution to stop the group’s growth.
In a more recent social media strategy, ISIS fanatics have posted a string of threats to Twitter employees using a Twitter account associated with the group. The post said that if Twitter management does not stop its campaign in the virtual world, they will be bringing the war in the “real world.”
The account was immediately suspended by Twitter as other accounts associated with the group have been. Just hours after the series of threatening tweets, the company deleted the accounts and is doing an “official investigation” on the issue. The social network has been suspending accounts that depict extremism and hate speech, as well as post gruesome photos and videos of executions in Syria and Iraq.
The threatening tweets posted using the handle @dawlamoon urged “lone wolves” to target Twitter employees in its San Francisco headquarters.
After Twitter removed the accounts, fanatics have been sharing on forums how to get back to Twitter and avoid censorship. The tip, according to their posts on JustPaste.it forum, is to slightly change usernames and open new accounts. The forum is frequently visited by ISIS-associated groups.
British citizens who went to Syria and joined ISIS use Twitter to try and recruit other UK Muslims to join the group as well.
This incident has signified a couple of things. Number one, social media plays an integral part to the cause of ISIS, to the extent of making threats along with a hashtag, which translates to #attacking_twitter_employees, according to Vocative. Number two, Twitter has the resources and technical ability to take action against serious threats – something that the social network failed to do in some instances. It seems that the company is able to respond a lot quicker when its employees are involved.
Twitter has made it clear in the past that it prioritizes credible threats where the person/s making threats are not anonymous. However, users have been complaining that the company is taking long just the same to respond to threats, whether the threats are “merely” harassing or more credible.
There have been incidents were Twitter was not quick enough to respond to threats, one is a woman who was a victim of rape and death threats through the social network. Some of the threats even include the woman’s home address. It took days for Twitter to “verify” the complaints and even took longer time to finally remove the malicious accounts.
Twitter is both a corporate entity and a social network so it can be expected that there will be some differences. Twitter may have taken a shorter time to verify the threats since they came from a group of people who are known to carry out that kind of thing. However, the company proves that it can take immediate action against serious abuse reports – just not against all abuse reports.