In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the hacktivist group Anonymous pledged to hunt and chase the terrorists from the Islamic State throughout the internet.
So it is refreshing to have people solid enough to keep their promises.
Indeed, true to their word, they have been producing results which have been published already since March 16, then on March 30 and yesterday, April 5 of this year 2015.
March 16, Anonymous released 9200 pro Islamic State Twitter IDs and alleged that Facebook is pro-Islamic State biased.
All Anonymous releases are part of their #OpISIS campaign and thus far they have successfully brought down many websites stating affiliation to the Islamic State or ISIS and released Twitter, email VPN account details belonging to them have also been disclosed.
Their goal is to get Twitter to suspend those accounts for promoting hatred and terrorism online.
The fact that Islamic State terrorists are social networking in the open, means a radical, strategic change even for them.
Indeed, in the words of a member of Anonymous his organisation seems to be the worthy contender of such sophisticated and murderous enterprise as are the Islamic State barbarians: “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.”
Here is their video explaining how Facebook simply deleted Anonymous page, where they were distributing information to bring down Islamic State online and recruiting any informants that could contribute to the task:
The list of the websites published yesterday is appended at Ghostbin with a message from a member of the Anonymous legion.
All websites listed below are frequently used by the Islamic State through
Twitter and other social media platforms for transmission of propaganda,
religion, recruitment, communications and intelligence gathering purposes.
Next to the URL you will find the company hosting content for that website.
Verification can be done by visiting http://check-host.net and entering the
website URL. It is our sincerest hope that the media use this as a tool
to show the world that the Islamic State is everywhere in some shape or form
and that companies are unaware of their customers content or they turn a blind
eye for easy profit and choose to accept bloodmoney. CloudFlare is by far the
largest offender on this list and they have been made aware of the specified
content they are protecting but chose to block us from contacting them rather
than addressing the issue. Together we can stop this from spreading and hold
these companies accountable for their less than ethical business practices.Anonymous is taking #OpISIS to the next level with the release of 70 pro Islamic State websites and 14000 Twitter ids belonging to Islamic State affiliates and supporters.
Continuing their efforts to bring down websites and Twitter accounts of IS and their supporters, the online hacktivist group, Anonymous today released a list of 70 websites believed to be operated by supporters of ISIS.’
Then, on March 31, 2015, Anonymous released 26,000 ISIS supporter Twitter ids including those already banned.
Their goal? As part of the campaign #OpISIS their goal is to show the gravity of the Islamic State problem online to world notice. The March 31 list contained 26,000 Twitter handles including 10,408 active accounts, and it was shared by their member xrsone who made the date base public with the following tweet:
The current list which contains 26000 Twitter handles including 10408 active accounts has been posted here. Anonymous member xrsone made the data base public.
If you are on Twitter, feel free to view that tweet and judge by yourself:
So that my readers be comfortable with the information given by Anonymous, here is a New York Times article showing the seriousness and professionalism with which this group is working to protect the general public.
How can anyone oppose a group that is trying to dismantle Islamic State activities and influence on social media?
They troll Twitter for suspected accounts of Islamic State fighters, recruiters and fund-raisers. Then they pounce.
In what has become a cyber analogy to the battles in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere between governments and the Islamic State, online vigilantes, some of them with diverse agendas, have united in a common cause to subvert the militant group’s aggressive use of social media, particularly Twitter.
They expose suspect accounts that they post on blacklists via Twitter, and encourage other Twitter users to report the accounts to the social media network’s violations department, a prerequisite for suspension or deletion.
“Basically our work not only cripples their ability to spread propaganda, but also wastes their time,” said a Twitter vigilante who goes by the screen name The Doctor.
Like others, The Doctor communicated through private online chats. All asked that their real identities be withheld for their safety, as many have received death threats.
Some vigilantes are affiliated with loosely knit hacking organizations like Anonymous, known more for infiltrating computer networks of governments and corporations to make political statements or for the “lulz” — the hacker term for laughs. Others are lone operators.
“I do this because the atrocities I see from these ISIS scum on a daily basis enrage me,” said a user who identified herself as TouchMyTweets and continued, “ This is my airstrike.”
A loosely organized effort by computer hacking collectives aimed at disrupting the Islamic State and other violent jihadist causes began last year after the extemists posted images of beheaded captives. It gained momentum after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January, according to experts who study online jihadists.
Critics, including cybersecurity experts and some members of Congress, contend Twitter has done little to stop the abuse. Twitter disputes that.
By some estimates, 70,000 to 90,000 Twitter accounts are used by the Islamic State to spread images of beheadings and other brutalities, lure recruits and even relay battle positions — all with relative impunity because the system is free, enormous and, to a large extent, according to critics, unsupervised.
“There is a massive usage of Twitter underway by ISIS,” said Michael S. Smith II, principal and chief operating officer of Kronos Advisory, LLC, a security consulting company.
This month Anonymous and two related hacking groups,CntrlSec and GhostSec, have sought to take matters into their own hands, publicizing Twitter accounts that they say are operated by the Islamic State in violation of Twitter’s policies on unlawful use. In recent days they posted a list of 9,200 suspect accounts.
“We won’t stop spamming ISIS accounts until all members/supporters of ISIS are off Twitter,” said a hacker identified by the screen name IS Hunting Club.
The hackers exhort other users to report the accounts to Twitter, and Twitter, which says it does not censor or proactively monitor message traffic, then decides whether to terminate the accounts.
When a suspect account is terminated, vigilantes celebrate by posting the account name and affixing the term “#TangoDown” — the same language used by antiterrorist commandos when they score a kill.
How many Twitter users are reporting suspect accounts because of this collaboration is unclear. Whether this vigilantism is significantly suppressing the use of Twitter by the Islamic State also has yet to be understood.
Asked for comment about the vigilantism, Twitter said in an emailed statement: “We review all reported content against our rules, which prohibit unlawful use and direct, specific threats of violence against others.”
But with the increased focus on use by the Islamic State, Twitter has suspended accounts at the rate of 2,000 per week recently, a company official said on condition of anonymity.
If the size of a Twitter account’s following is any indication, the hacking group GhostSec has a considerable force of activists behind it, with 6,274 as of Tuesday. CntrlSec had 2,039.
The Islamic State’s own cyberactivists have been anything but passive. They have threatened Twitter’s founder, Jack Dorsey, and his employees with death, posting ominous messages including a decapitated blue Twitter bird, the company’s icon.
People working on behalf of the Islamic State have taken countermeasures like distributing lists of hackers to help avoid detection and urging followers to change account names if they suspect an impending complaint.
In late February, jihadist accounts on Twitter began circulating a manual for bypassing Twitter requirements for the phone numbers and email addresses of users, the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors Islamic militancy online, reported a few weeks ago.
J.M. Berger, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution who recently completed a study of Twitter use by ISIS, said the campaign by vigilantes might be having some effect, although it was impossible to measure. The recently posted list of 9,200 ISIS accounts, he said, is “the biggest catch they’ve put down.”
Mr. Smith of Kronos expressed skepticism, asserting that the Twitter system still has thousands of Islamic State users.
A few weeks ago, senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a bipartisan letter to Twitter’s chief executive, Dick Costolo, urging him to increase efforts to combat groups like the Islamic State. “Companies need to ensure that their social media services are not being hijacked for terrorist use,” wrote Representative Ed Royce, the committee chairman.
Twitter’s general counsel, Vijaya Gadde, responded in a letter, saying that the company had expanded its mechanisms for terminating accounts that violate its rules while preserving “the ability of users to share freely their views — including views that many people may disagree with or find abhorrent.”