ISIS Online

The Project

Digital communications technologies have become a critical tool for modern terrorist organizations. Not only do groups like the Islamic State utilize the internet to disseminate their propaganda and communicate their aims to supporters, various virtual platforms have also been used to recruit members and facilitate terrorist plots around the world. Analysis of the "digital toolkit" used by violent extremist organizations can illuminate the overall functions, goals, and ideologies of specific groups, their supporters, and the broader movements behind them.

Following the release of the report ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa, in December 2015, the Program on Extremism spearheaded an initiative tracing extremist digital communications over time. At present, the project focuses data collection on multiple platforms, including Twitter and Telegram, with the aim of understanding how activity on these platforms links to  online networks and trends. As a result of this intiative, the Program on Extremism has collected one of the largest time-bound databases of pro-Islamic State English Twitter accounts and a complementary database on Telegram. 

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The American IS Twitter Scene Inside the IS Echo Chamber- Twitter Inside the IS Echo Chamber-Telegram  About the Telegram Tracker

 

Telegram Tracker

Telegram Tracker Spring 2018

 

From June 1, 2017 to May 1, 2018, Program on Extremism researchers tracked, analyzed, and coded 689 pro-Islamic State (IS) channels containing English-language content on the messaging application Telegram.

  • The average number of channel members was 156.
  • The most popular channel had 3,891 members.
  • 65.2% of channels were private channels, 34.8% were public channels.
  • On these channels, IS supporters shared: 
    • 56,230 photos,
    • 23,048 files and documents 
    • 18,161 URL links, 
    • 10,084 videos,
    • 3,308 audio recordings, 
    • 622 voice messages.
  • IS' military activities in Syria and Iraq were discussed in English on 57% of channels, while 43% discussed IS affiliate activities, 12% discussed IS non-military activities, 16% discussed news and events in North America and Europe, 14% discussed cybersecurity and 10% discussed IS attacks in North America and Europe.
  • 37% of channels shared links to other channels, and 35% shared religious material in English.
  • The most frequently used external filesharing site was Archive.org.

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