Twitter helped spur a 30% growth in online forums for hate and terrorism over the past year, according to a Simon Wiesenthal Center study. The study revealed that more than 20,000 “hate-spewing hashtags and handles” appeared on Twitter in 2012, up 5,000 from the year before.
NBC Terror Analyst Evan Kohlmann described the transition to social media by terror organizations on Jansing & Co. Monday. “We’re in the opening phases of it,” he said. “These groups used to have their own private communications channels, password protected, separate, you know, for al Qaeda members or Shabaab members exclusively.”
Kohlmann explained that Twitter’s public platform is both risky and beneficial to law enforcement. On the one hand, “you’re talking about thousands and thousands of followers, never mind people that are just browsing across this normally. So it really does increase their reach pretty dramatically.”
On the other hand, authorities can monitor, track, and shut down terrorist organizations’ activities through these networks. “The U.S. government does not have the capability with password protected proprietary channels that al Qaeda uses,” he said. Social media channels also allow law enforcement to see who is subscribed to the terror networks.