The Use of Social Media by Terrorist Fundraisers and Financiers

Financiers and fundraisers for al-Qaida and Islamic State (ISIS) are active
users of popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter,
YouTube and Instagram, in some cases even after being placed on a
United Nations or US government sanctions list. Terrorist financiers
and fundraisers have utilized social media to attract and direct funding
to procure weapons, pay salaries, strengthen infrastructure and operate
civil and social services. While the amount of funding raised via social
media is far less in comparison to revenues from oil sales or taxation,
al-Qaida and ISIS fundraisers have taken credit for millions of dollars
raised using social media-based campaigns—significant amounts by
any standard.
Terrorist financiers and fundraisers for al-Qaida and ISIS have relied on
social media services to communicate with colleagues and supporters,
attract new followers globally, and promote aligned causes and
organizations. With their potential to spur viral content growth, social
media services enable fundraisers to more quickly and effectively solicit
support and reach larger audiences.
Social media companies have actively terminated the accounts of
terrorist facilitators—including a number of designated terrorist
fundraisers and financiers—citing violations of their respective terms
of service restrictions that prohibit support for violence or hate speech
[see pg.12]. For example, in early February 2016 Twitter announced the
closure of more than 125,000 accounts “for threatening or promoting
terrorist acts, primarily related to ISIS,” noting that social media platforms
are “forced to make challenging judgment calls based on very limited
information and guidance.”1 Facebook has also stepped up its efforts
to remove users who back terror groups, and YouTube has taken down
content and terminated users who post terrorist material.2

Tags: Al-Qaeda, Fundraising, ISIS, Social Media