Activists operating under the Anonymous banner and other groups including GhostSec and Ctrlsec, have released a list of Isis-linked Twitter accounts, in the hope of pressuring the social media platform into banning the users from the site.
It is the latest public release from the group, which includes members affiliated with Anonymous, after a run of attempts to out Isis supporters using the site. It hopes to encourage users to report the listed accounts, and encourage Twitter to take them down.
Isis experts have previously said that while taking down accounts is useful in stopping the floods of propaganda on the site, it does little to hit the actual core of Isis activity. And such campaigns have occasionally had counter-productive effects — taking down users that aren’t affiliated with Isis at all, for instance.
The organisation “declared war” on jihadist websites and social network users in the wake of the Charlie Hedbo shootings in January. Most of the work since then has involved releasing lists of Isis-supporting users on social networks — though the group also claimed to have been disrupting communications channels and networks used by Isis.
The new list features 9,200 names, most of which do superficially appear to be linked to Isis. But many of the accounts have since been taken down, so it’s impossible to tell whether the users were genuine supporters of Isis.
In a post announcing the list, online group XRS One said that it had been “created by hundreds of users and compiled by #CtrlSec”. Another group called GhostSec is thought to have been part of the effort, alongside those affiliated with Anonymous.
A member of Anonymous involved in the operation told IBTimes: "This is historic amongst the digital world as it’s the first time these groups have come together for something this large.
"Usually they are very closed off and not willing to work outside of their circles but this has become so large of a problem they’re willing to form an alliance for what is seen as a greater good. The outcome of hundreds of hackers across all three major groups is the largest compiled and verified list ever to be released to the public."
While Anonymous and other groups are often referred to as hacktivists, using computer hacking to get their results, it’s just as likely that the group assembled the list by searching through sites using certain keywords.
“We’re releasing it to hold Twitter accountable,” the group wrote.
“I encourage you all to do your duty not only as a citizen of the world but also as a member of the internet community and re-post this on social media.
“The more attention it gets the more likely it becomes Twitter takes action in removing these accounts and making a serious impact on the ability of ISIS to spread propaganda and recruit new members.”
While Twitter appears to be taking down all of the accounts on this and similar lists, its rules do not actually outlaw being a member of Isis or supporting the group. But the site’s terms of service do prohibit direct threats of violence.
“We review all reported content against our rules, which prohibit direct, specific threats of violence against others,” Twitter said in response to previous requests.
At the beginning of the month, ISIS threatened to behead Twitter employees for disabling ISIS supporter accounts.