ISIS has a new favorite social media network: Telegram

The Fiscal Times reports: Terror Jihadi groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda are now shifting much of their social media propaganda, recruiting and fund transferring from mainstream social media sites like Twitter to a service called Telegram, according to a new report by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC).

ISIS and other militant groups have been jumping from one social media service to another in their attempts to avoid anti-terrorism programs by governments and corporations. They appear to have settled on Telegram. “The Jihadis’ struggle to keep up with the relentless suspensions and removal of jihadi social media content may have finally run its course,” says Veryan Khan, the Editorial Director at TRAC. “The new frontier of jihadi communication is taking place on a recently launched tool, in a messaging platform that has revolutionized the social media sphere.”

Telegram was launched in August 2013 by the two Russian brothers, Nicolay and Pavel Durov, as a free encrypted instant messaging service. While reports of terror groups using Telegram surfaced months ago, a new feature called “Channels” was launched in September to let users broadcast to other members of the service. It quickly turned Telegram into the favorite social media hub of ISIS and other terror groups.

“It is this new feature that has been enthusiastically embraced by many militant groups, becoming an underground railroad for distributing and archiving jihadi propaganda materials,” the TRAC report says.

As of Nov. 2, TRAC has recorded more than 200 major jihadi channels. Half of them belong to ISIS. Other major players in the jihadi world, from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to Jabhat al-Nusra to Ansar al-Sharia in Libya to Jaysh al-Islam, are increasingly creating their own channels. The rate of membership growth for the channels has been staggering, quickly climbing to about 150,000 total members, the report concludes.

“The sheer scale and momentum of the Telegram migration is hard to fathom,” says Brian Watts, an author of the TRAC report. “The force of the numbers using Telegram channels is staggering, watching hundreds of new members in an hours’ time; thousands coming on in over a few days is commonplace for many channels.” [Continue reading…]

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