Call it "anti-"social media. While you may be using Facebook to rack up friends, many of the world's most dangerous terrorist organizations are using it to build a following of fanatics, according to an Israeli professor who studies terrorist organizations.
"Today, about 90 percent of organized terrorism on the Internet is being carried out through social media," said Gabriel Weimann, a professor at Haifa University in Isreal, who has studied the Internet use of terrorist organizations over the past 10 years. "By using these tools, the organizations are able to be active in recruiting new friends without geographical limitations. Social media is enabling the terror organizations to take initiatives by making 'friend' requests, uploading video clips, and the like, and they no longer have to make do with the passive tools available on regular websites."
Alarming as that news may be, perhaps even more alarming is the fact that these terrorist organizations are using social media as a means to gain intelligence about enemies. According to Weinmann, this has already happened -- notably in Israel, where terrorist group Hezbollah searched for information on the Israeli military by monitoring the Facebook activity of soldiers. Additionally, in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, soldiers have been instructed to remove personal information from social media sites as a preventative measure in case al-Qaida similarly is searching for information.
"The most advanced of Western communication technology is, paradoxically, what the terror organizations are now using to fight the West," Weimann said.