A new initiative from ISIS may have ended before it even began. The terrorist organization had allegedly rallied its online members to bombard Facebook and Twitter with propaganda supporting its operations.
According to hackers who are dedicated to fighting ISIS online, the new initiative barely caused a ripple.
There are two things ISIS can’t do well, said WauchulaGhost, a hacker with Anonymous: “One is hack and the other is troll,” he said. “I believe they are understanding that now.”
Several members of ISIS use the messaging app Telegraph to plan their online operations, Vocativ reported on April 17. It said ISIS established a channel several weeks ago on the app, and was using it to give orders.
Vocative reported that in a recent order, ISIS called on its online trolls to “attack” Twitter and Facebook. It is also using the platform to distribute propaganda videos and other materials that ISIS supporters can post online, and to coordinate which online platforms its members will target.
Vocative gave an example of a recent order where ISIS supporters were told to comment on an RT post on Facebook about a taxi driver and ISIS recruiter who was arrested in Moscow. The ISIS channel declared “Attack begins..Now! Everyone go FULL force on this post,” and the Facebook post was quickly filled with comments praising ISIS.
WauchulaGhost said he didn’t see any increase in the online operations of ISIS, and that the terrorist group has actually been losing ground on websites like Facebook and Twitter.
Hackers with groups including Anonymous and others launched a campaign called #OpISIS around February 2015, which intended to put an end to ISIS operations that were targeting social media for recruitment and to spread their messages.
Some of the hackers report ISIS accounts to Twitter or Facebook to have them banned, others launch cyberattacks against ISIS online networks. After taking control of the accounts, they sometimes use the accounts to cause confusion within ISIS ranks, or they will release private information on the former account holders including their locations and phone numbers.
“With the amount of reporting everyone is doing accounts are going down steady,” WauchulaGhost said. “Accounts that we see spreading propaganda and graphic images are reported right away.”
More recently, hackers including WauchulaGhost have taken the operations a step further. They are now hacking and seizing control of ISIS accounts, which they’ve sometimes quietly held control of to post counter-propaganda within ISIS ranks to confuse its members.
WauchulaGhost said that with all the operations working together against ISIS, they’ve “pushed their trolling effort back to nothing,” and he noted that many ISIS supporters are “upset.”