ISIL supporters are hacking into people’s dormant Twitter accounts to hijack them to promote jihad and celebrate their dead leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
They are circumventing email and identity checks by taking over accounts that range from individuals’ in the UK and across the world to a local cricket club in Australia.
The posts celebrate Isil killings, battles and individual jihadists as well as Al-Baghdadi, often posted against a backdrop of Isil iconography on flags or posters.
Typical is one with images of armed Isil fighters which declares: “With God almighty, soldiers in the caliphate targeted officers in a prison, using a pistol, and which led him to perish, thanks be to God.”
Others feature armed soldiers digging graves, preparing fortifications and marching to the frontline with Arabic script urging people to join the jihad.
The hacking has been uncovered by Eric Feinberg, founder of the Global Intellectual Property Enforcement Center who has developed technology to detect communications of terrorists in Arabic and other languages and thus trace material that might be missed by the platforms.
“This is a hacking of dormant accounts to spread propaganda via hashtagging ‘dog whistle’ words like #Afghanistan #Iraq and # alBaghdadi in Arabic,” said Mr Feinberg.
“It’s hidden in plain sight. They are using existing accounts as Twitter has a system that requires certain details like an email address to open an account. They don’t need to provide those details.
“They are using it to radicalise and recruit, taking their inspiration from the death of al Baghdadi. It’s a badge of honour to incite.
“What concerns me is that I can find this but the companies don’t seem to be taking a proactive enough stance against it. There needs to be more technological analysis by the companies. It needs to be prevented from happening in the first place.”
Damian Collins, chair of the Culture Committee, said: “We should have a zero tolerance on accounts like this. This is another example of why we need a legal duty of care placed on social media companies so that they are responsible in law for the removal of content like this.
“Twitter needs to be doing more to identify and remove accounts that are being used to spread vile ISIL propaganda. These messages can be used to radicalise others into joining ISIL or committing atrocities in their own communities.”
Twitter has suspended all the accounts identified by The Daily Telegraph for violating its terrorism policy.
"We have a zero tolerance policy on terrorist content. We are committed to eradicating content from our platform that violates the Twitter Rule prohibiting the promotion of terrorism," said a spokesperson.
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