The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has confirmed that a number of terrorist groups – including Al Qaeda – are exploiting Facebook to recruit new members.
“Social networking interfaces whose purpose is to virtually connect people based on such common social bonds clearly lend themselves to extremist use and recruitment efforts,” the DHS explained in a recently published report obtained by FoxNews.
According to the report, jihadists use Facebook as a platform to share operational and tactical data, including bomb preparatory techniques and weapons maintenance protocols.
The popular social networking site is also employed by terrorist organizations to disseminate propaganda, while serving as a source of remote reconnaissance for targeting purposes.
Specifics examples cited by the DHS report include:
- Informational videos titled “tactical shooting,” “getting to know your AK-47” and “how to field strip an AK-47.”
- A discussion page featuring IED recipes for explosive ammonia and poisonous smoke bombs.
- Instructions on how to prepare nitric acid, which is used to make explosive mixtures.
“A concerning factor here is the speed at which an entire demographic can be located and communicated with. DHS mentions the use of social media to find groups with similar interests,” said Steve Graham, senior director for EC Council, a cybersecurity certification membership organization.
“Fact is, what used to take months to get a few recruits who meet the right criteria is now on a harvested mailing list. Groups are being communicated to in the hundreds, speeding up recruiting efforts.”
But Jeff Bardin, chief security strategist at security firm XA Systems, notes that such Facebook recruitment campaigns are often closely monitored by tech-savy counter-terrorist officials.
“The youth who come to Facebook looking for jihadist information are the Generation X and Y youth who also don’t worry too much about the security of their profiles and what they post.
“[This] provides easy prey for intelligence agencies worldwide to access, infiltrate and fully penetrate those wishing to learn.”
Meanwhile, a Facebook rep told FoxNews that the site takes its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) very seriously and reacts quickly to reports of inappropriate content and behavior.
“Groups that threaten violence towards people are taken down, as are groups that express hatred towards individuals and those sponsored by recognized terrorist organizations.
“The goal of these policies is to strike a very delicate balance between giving people the freedom to express their opinions and viewpoints – even those that may be controversial to some – and maintaining a safe and trusted environment.”