How pro-terrorism accounts are circumventing moderation on social media

© Observers

Activity from terrorist organisations operating on Twitter has increased by at least 69% since multibillionaire Elon Musk took over the social network, according to researchers focused on online extremism. But these accounts have had to get creative to circumvent content moderation. From "sock puppet" accounts to coded messages and "broken" text, terrorist organisations have a wide range of new techniques at their disposal. They're putting them to use on Twitter, as well as other platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

Last March, Elon Musk proclaimed himself a "free speech absolutist". On Twitter, he put a poll out to his followers to determine whether they believed that Twitter "rigorously adheres" to the principle of free speech. More than 70% of respondents said "No".

But the billionaire's takeover of the social network on October 27 has rekindled fears that false information and hate speech – previously moderated to a certain extent – would come back in full force.

These fears are backed up by findings from researchers at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), who found that content from terrorist groups and their supporters – particularly the Islamic State (IS) group – has exploded since early November.

Although this increase coincided with Musk's takeover of Twitter, similar surges in activity from accounts close to, and in support of, terrorist organisations also took place on Facebook and YouTube.

'What they will do is whitewash official content from Islamic State [group] channels'

Others use logos from real media outlets to get their message across.


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