As ISIS established its caliphate in 2014, its supporters flooded mainstream social media platforms to share propaganda, plan attacks, and recruit future members. Realising the substantial threat posed by these online jihadists, social media companies developed new tools to clamp down on ISIS supporters, largely pushing them out of the mainstream and onto alt-tech platforms or encrypted messaging apps like Rocket.Chat and Telegram. Unfortunately, in more recent years, ISIS supporters have adapted and used new tactics to seep back onto mainstream platforms once again.
The re-emergence of pro-ISIS accounts on mainstream platforms poses a significant security risk. Many of the tools that were developed to detect and remove pro-ISIS accounts in the past are no longer sufficient to counter their evolving evasion tactics. Thousands of pro-ISIS accounts have developed new ways to operate relatively freely on mainstream platforms while remaining undetected. Over a nine-month research project, the author found that more than 50% of the pro-ISIS accounts on mainstream platforms that were identified at the beginning of the study remained online & active throughout.