The Social Media Tech-Nuclear Option: Defeating ISIS Online

Bryan Crabtree
|
Posted: Dec 08, 2015 12:01 AM
 The Social Media Tech-Nuclear Option:  Defeating ISIS Online

One of the reasons we cannot “contain” ISIS is that we don’t understand their true source of power. They are manipulating our social-media and technological-revolution for the benefit of recruiting, empowering and instructing terrorist-operatives across the Globe.

Social-media companies, such as Twitter and our Government. need to block these terrorists (or be forced to block them). But, will they?

We need to launch a tech-nuclear bomb that shuts down ISIS’ entire social-media campaign. The unprecedented threat that we face, from ISIS, will require harsh measures that, many will think, infringes on rights.

But, this is war. We can’t defeat an unfair enemy by being fair with our strategy. We can exempt American-based Twitter and social-media accounts from the tech-nuclear attack to maintain the integrity of our Constitution and honor the rights of our citizens. But, this should not extend to other countries.

According to The Brookings Institute, the largest concentration of ISIS-supporters are tweeting from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, United States, Eqypt, Kuwait and Turkey. Absent The U.S., does Twitter (or Facebook) really need these countries to operate a successful platform? They probably don’t. ISIS is using Twitter to recruit thousands of ISIS fighters by rapidly spreading its propaganda throughout the World. We can’t stop this threat with real bombs, troops and conventional warfare, nor with a President distracted by gun-control as the proposed solution.

If an IP address, in the Middle East, is determined to be ISIS-operated, it should be blocked and banned from the social-media platform. ISIS-posts from within the United States should be monitored by our intelligence agencies. These posts/Tweets are publicly visible and U.S. based surveillance would not be illegal. When warranted, court-orders could be legally obtained if it’s believed that an imminent threat is observed. These international, ISIS-posts are calls to invite hatred and perform acts of violence against Americans. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, has stated that she will prosecute American-citizens who participate in hate-speech against Muslim-Americans. Why does our government not use the same resolve to prosecute these terrorists who are recruiting for ISIS on social media around the World?

Attacking specific accounts will not be enough. We will likely have to block entire countries from using the social-media platforms until the threat is neutralized. But, how does our Government look for these suspicious accounts?

If a Muslim, based in Saudi Arabia, with a twitter profile in Arabic, is tweeting against The U.S. Government in English, then it’s likely an ISIS-fighter, operative or sympathizer. And, their message is intended to harm America. If a Syria-based Muslim, with a Twitter profile in Arabic is commenting, in English, about “White Privilege” in regards to the Ferguson-riots (or some similar event), then, they are clearly a disrupter with ill-intent for America. ISIS uses our own news-events to stir up trouble and to recruit for its cause. To combat this threat, we must either hijack their threads with pro-American propaganda and backlash to their comments, or shut down their accounts.

We should assert that shutting down entire IP addresses, taking entire terrorist-harboring countries offline (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and operating an aggressive team of online-surveillance, in the United States, to only be part of our strategy. Next, we should engage in the “tech-nuclear option.”

The NSA and CIA should hire the brightest security-experts from Silicon Valley to hack the non-American accounts, shut them down, or otherwise redirect their narratives into pro-peace, anti-terror messages. In other words, hijack ISIS-accounts and take “virtual” hostages. Then, kill the hostages (re: accounts).

The enemy is empowered through the “new media” of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and social- platforms. ISIS operatives have limitless resources and manpower to create massive online followings and to engage in anti-American and anti-West rhetoric, which serves as the foundation for radicalization and then recruitment. These online profiles can be as large and effective as many reputable media outlets.

What’s missing from this fight is a Federal Government with the understanding, acumen and resolve to disrupt the communication tools that empower groups like ISIS and allow them to be effective at accomplishing their goals. If their communication channels and recruitment resources are under constant attack, hijack and online hostage-taking, they will be forced to move from offense to defense, where we can begin to gain control of the propaganda machine that is fueling ISIS.

The Paris and San Bernardino attacks are only a sample of what’s to come until we take this social-media threat as seriously as the life-and-death reality is presents.