Following the news that Mohammed Mohsin Ameen, from Dagenham, sent more than 40,000 tweets encouraging people to join ISIS in this blog we take a look at the dangers posed by extremism online.
The 23-year-old is accused of using 42 separate Twitter accounts and sending over 40,000 tweets to urge fellow Muslims to pledge allegiance to ISIS in an eight month hate campaign on social media.
Described as a ‘gateway drug for extremists’, there are at least 43,000 active pro-Islamic State Twitter accounts, sending approximately 200,000 tweets a day, according to data from the Counter Extremism Project.
Although, Twitter has updated its policy to ban violence promoted by terrorist groups like ISIS and has suspended around 10,000 accounts linked to the group, Twitter has fallen behind in the fight against Islamic extremism online.
ISIS and its supporters see social media platforms as an important tool in recruiting young impressionable people to their cause. They know that an increasing number of people depend on it for their news and see it as a vital tool in their propaganda machine.
Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, who studied at the Bethnal Green Academy, in East London are believed to have travelled to Syria after making contact with extremists on social media platforms.
Abdullah, a Finnish teenager revealed in an interview with Newsweek earlier this year that he had disseminated propaganda for ISIS using social media. “The Internet is such a huge part of recruiting these days,” he told the American weekly. “For the kids who do this, it’s easy to conceal.”
Countering Extremism Online
Humza Arshad, the British Muslim comedian and actor with a YouTube channel that has attracted more than 60 million views, has been working to help prevent the radicalisation of young people by holding workshops in 30 schools and collages across the country.
He is not alone.
A group of university students in Ottawa is gaining international attention for their YouTube series that pokes fun at extremist groups and its ideologies.
The show, which is shot in English and Arabic, aims to battle the violent militant group that has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria with humour. Its sketches poke fun at ISIS through its use of slick production, jokes and pop culture references.
At FAST, we have also been working hard to stem the threat of violent extremism online. As part of the Stay Safe Over Summer campaign, we worked with Humberside Police to urge parents to keep a check on their children’s activities on social media and private messaging applications such as Kik and WhatsApp.
It’s not always easy to keep track of what your children are doing online. But every parent needs to be aware of the risks posed by the internet, which can be a platform for those seeking to exploit young an impressionable people.
If you are concerned about a family member or loved one travelling to Syria or being radicalised online then please click here for our free and impartial advice.