Twitter Under Attack


Twitter is under attack after its suspension of accounts affiliated with the Islamic State (IS). Affiliates of the extremist group have allegedly sent indirect threats to the staff of Twitter for suspending such accounts, and these reports are being taken very seriously. Meanwhile, Twitter is continuing to suspend accounts which post threats or propaganda related to IS.

Michael Walsh of New York Daily News reported that “death threats” were made to employees of Twitter by IS affiliates. Translated tweets indicate that IS affiliates have responded to managerial decisions to suspend IS accounts by calling for “assassination” of their employees. Twitter responded to such news by saying their security department is checking on the “veracity” of such threats with law enforcement.

The threats made to the corporation included other tweets, some of which stated  that IS supporters know the location of their San Francisco headquarters and that employees should “watch over himself because on his doorstep there might be a lone world assassin waiting.” The account affiliated with such tweets reportedly belongs to Al Nusra Al Maqdisia under the screen name @dawlamoon, who have “declared” IS supporters in Jerusalem.

The tweets were first reported by website Vocativ. A group of reporters not only included the translation of four threatening tweets, but stated the account making the threats may not have had official IS permission to do so. Even so, the website stated that the Al Nusra Al Maqdisia account is prominent on IS forums found on the internet and that 11 percent of its interaction within the last 30 days on Twitter were with accounts based in America, which does not only include the U.S. area.

Vocativ also stated that IS affiliates have found clever ways to re-open accounts, including using similar usernames and pictures but changing one letter with either a symbol or number. According to the website, the tactic is not new, but now includes more aggressive initiatives, such as “spamming” Western and American accounts.

Washington Post has its own take on Twitter’s coming under attack, including stating that the social media company takes threats to its employees seriously, but not towards its users. Caitlan Dewey reported that Twitter had suspended the Al Nusra Al Maqdisia account within hours and launched “an official investigation.” Dewey also noted that other users had noticed their own complaints of being threatened or harassed were not taken as seriously.

Dewey noted that both Twitter employees and law enforcement officials may notice the difference between accounts which “troll” other accounts to harass and even threaten users, but do not take it as seriously as accounts affiliated with a notorious group known to carry out threats. Dewey reported users who had complained to Twitter about threats and harassment made toward them found Twitter either dismissed the complaint or took days to verify it. Twitter is under attack and criticism for these types of policies and how their employees tend to react, or not, to threatening tweets continues to be directed their way.

By Liz Pimentel

N.Y. Daily News
Wash. Post

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