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Anonymous Takes Down Thousands of ISIS-Related Twitter Accounts In a Day (softpedia.com) 320

BarbaraHudson writes: Softpedia is reporting that Anonymous, along with social media users, have identified several thousand Twitter accounts allegedly linked to ISIS members. "Besides scanning for ISIS Twitter accounts themselves, the hacking group has also opened access to the [takedown operation] site to those interested. Anyone who comes across ISIS social media accounts can easily search the database and report any new terrorists and supporters. The website is called #opIceISIS [slow right now, but it does load] and will index ISIS members based on their real name, location, picture, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts." Anonymous crowdsourcing their operations... welcome to the brave new world, ISIS. An article at The Independent reminds everyone that this information has not been independently confirmed, and that Anonymous is certainly capable of misidentifying people. It's also worth exploring the question of why Twitter hasn't already disabled these accounts, and why intelligence agencies haven't done anything about them, if they're so easy to find.
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Anonymous Takes Down Thousands of ISIS-Related Twitter Accounts In a Day

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  • and using what they find for targeting information.

    at this point, all civilized nations appear to have decided that since ISIS wants to live in 600 AD, we can help by bombing them there. that does not need pinpoint targeting.

    • Exactly. Think of it this way:

      A dumb cop that discovers a black market operation's stash house kicks in the door, makes a few arrests, and gets some B-roll on the news with drugs and guns on a table.

      A smart cop that discovers a black market operation's stash house will sit on the location watching who and what goes where, and build cases on all of it and take the whole operation and it's suppliers at the same time.

      • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @03:55PM (#50950189)

        So at what point does the "smart cop" decide to stop them? After they've killed 129 people?

        That makes a good movie plot but it doesn't work in real life.

        The problem is that our "intelligence" agencies are more focused on electronics than on intelligence. It's easier. It's cheaper. It can cover a lot more "suspects". And it can be easily abused.

        Stopping an attack makes you look good for one day.

        Having a fearsome enemy that can attack any where, any time means you have funding for life.

        • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @04:23PM (#50950435)

          They've killed a lot more than 129 people (along with many other atrocities). There have been thousands dead already but I guess they don't count since they weren't in a first world country.

          Not that the West really has the stomach to stop ISIS. All we want to do is send planes over there to drop bombs and let the smaller countries from the area do the fighting on the ground. Getting rid of them is going to take putting troops over there but the people here don't want to deal with the casualties that would come with that.

          • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @04:58PM (#50950717)

            They've killed a lot more than 129 people (along with many other atrocities). There have been thousands dead already but I guess they don't count since they weren't in a first world country.

            More like it is a bit more difficult to arrest someone who is part of an armed organization in a different country.

            Why would they be using social media to communicate with each other when they're bivouacked together?

            Not that the West really has the stomach to stop ISIS.

            It's not that they do not have the stomach for it.

            They see advantages in having a scary enemy to distract from other issues.

            All we want to do is send planes over there to drop bombs and let the smaller countries from the area do the fighting on the ground.

            Because once a bomb is used, a replacement has to be purchased. Which means a LOT of money flowing from taxes to vendors.

            Getting rid of them is going to take putting troops over there but the people here don't want to deal with the casualties that would come with that.

            That is what created them the last time.

            At this point there is no clean/easy way to deal with the mess we created. And we aren't willing to spend the money/years helping them if our vendors do not see a cash ROI.

        • The governments have already said that their best intelligence is from people, not the internet. You've got to figure that the flow of refugees who have no love of ISIS are going to be primed to give up whatever they know.
          • Where would you find these?

            Because the most recent wave exhibited some quite aggressive hostility against the western countries and seemed quite sympathetic towards ISIS.

            • If they are "quite sympathetic towards ISIS", why are they risking death by running away from them? I'm not buying that millions of refugees are all fleeing the war zones because they want to be ISIS sleeper agents.
      • I completely agree. Of course, there's also the case to be made that if a community activist posts a map to all of the drug dens in the neighborhood, it may finally encourage the community to take matters into their own hands, making the neighborhood inhospitable to the criminals. Get enough neighborhoods doing it, and it becomes pretty hard to do illegal business.

        If the community actually responds, then great. But if they don't, which is what we'd typically expect, then the smart cop does exactly what you

      • It's more like a cop finding pamphlets with "do drugs, it's cool!" written on them and do nothing because he hopes to find vital secret information on them, which he of course never will since it's only propaganda.
    • It's mixed indeed. Now if anonymous screens a bit and removes the twitter accounts that are the least interesting, while leaving alone the ones that are too talkative, then maybe there's a value. Not much though. It's more a feelgood operation.

      As for bombing them to 600 AD, yeah right. I read somewhere that there are 10 million people living under ISIS rule. Guess who will suffer most. I'm not saying don't do it, but it's nothing to go bragging about.

    • Find what? This is propaganda channels and not secret information channels. It's like the Nazis in WW2 would eagerly collect the British "what your wife is doing at home while you are away to fight this war" pamphlets in order to collect vital intelligence information on the allied war effort. The ISIL Twitter accounts serve no purpose what so ever for intelligence agencies.
  • It's pretty easy actually, better to keep tabs on the enemy by letting them continue to use accounts that we know about rather than drive them to ones that we don't.
    • Taking them down seems like a futile approach, as they'll only reappear with a different identity. Clever trolling would be more effective--poison the well instead. Problem is, to be effective requires considerable language skills and cultural expertise, which one wouldn't necessarily expect from a hacker community.
    • by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @04:12PM (#50950355)

      If you only fight them in a war like scenario then this is correct. However, we can only win when we stop to produce young people who become willingly the tools of IS. Therefore, we have to cut the communication links of IS. And we must help those young men in school, university, and society to find another way to get recognition in life.

      See also: http://www.theguardian.com/pro... [theguardian.com]

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Problem is you push people on to the dark web. The people reading this stuff will quickly get instructions to download Tails and their reading habits will become much harder to monitor.

        Actually, that may be a good thing. Force GCHQ/NSA to target individuals instead of relying on bulk collection. Oh man, what a moral dilemma, which bad guys do we help?

    • Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Twitter, BAH! If you want to be effective, follow their finances and arms deals, but be careful, you will find out things you don't want to know. Or you could file an FOIA request for the receipts at the state department [telegraph.co.uk]. There you will find what makes this ride go 'round and 'round.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @03:30PM (#50949961)

    There is literally nothing in the world harder than creating a Twitter account. I know, I tried. Couldn't read the damn CAPTCHA without my spectacles.

    Anonymous has completely ruined the infrastructure of terror. It will take centuries to rebuild.

    Great work kids. I hope you all get medals for you bravery.

  • >> Anonymous Takes Down Thousands of ISIS-Related Twitter Accounts

    Call me stupid but why doesn't Twitter shut off terrorist/childporn/etc. accounts regularly? Isn't there a TOS for that? Is there ANY way to get kicked off of Twitter?

    • You say that like there is an infinite number of moderators at twitter that are reading every single feed. There isn't, and they're not.
      • >> You say that like there is an infinite number of moderators at twitter

        No, I say that like there are a FINITE number of anonymous members who were able to make the necessary distinctions.

        • Yes, well, and what was the accuracy rate of anonymous?

          It's all well and good to say they've done something ... it's another to know how good of a job they've done at it.

          If they shut down thousands of accounts, and 99% of them had nothing to do with ISIS, that's hardly some great success now is it?

          Those "necessary distinctions" have yet to be validated as anything other than Anonymous saying they've done so.

          The proof is in the proof, not in the press release.

        • No, I say that like there are a FINITE number of anonymous members who were able to make the necessary distinctions.

          The crucial difference is, Twitter didn't have to pay them anything.

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @03:36PM (#50950033)
    http://thehill.com/policy/cybe... [thehill.com]

    I was able to infiltrate this ISIS help desk and here is the prompt I heard when calling into it (translated from Arabic):

    Welcome to the Daesh hotline. Please listen carefully to the following message as our options have changed.
    Press 1 for information on how to encrypt messages sent to members of your terrorist cell
    Press 2 if you're a suicidal bomber and are having trouble detonating your device
    Press 3 if you're an oppressed female who would like to sign up for our next Perl Programming Bootmap
    Press 4 for tips on how to write terror and/or hate messages in 140 characters or less
    Press 5 to voice your displeasure with systemd
    Or Press 0 to speak with a member of the Bush family for further assistance
  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @03:39PM (#50950067)

    So the will stop ISIL from sawing off people's heads, raping, slaughtering, stealing, being pedophiles, vandals, shooting up discos in foreign countries etc.?

    It will keep the really stupid ones, such as certain known ones from the USA for instance, from bragging as much I suppose.

  • Dumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poity ( 465672 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @03:39PM (#50950071)

    So they just reported them and drove them to new accounts or more obscure platforms?
    Why not infiltrate them, honeypot them, phish them, throw in some trojans, etc? They could have caused a lot more trouble. Are these even the 4chan Anons from yesteryear? Where is the chaotic element?

    • It's also worth exploring the question of why Twitter hasn't already disabled these accounts, and why intelligence agencies haven't done anything about them, if they're so easy to find.

      ...

      Why not infiltrate them, honeypot them ... ?

      Maybe that's why the accounts weren't actively shut down before -- they're something like low-hanging fruit when it comes to surveillance.

    • They could have caused a lot more trouble. Are these even the 4chan Anons from yesteryear? Where is the chaotic element?

      They largely aren't. 4chan is a shell of its former self. Don't get me wrong, it can still be a terrible place, but it's not nearly as bad as it used to be. I'd guess a lot of the former members either grew up, got busy with other stuff in life, or moved to other sites.

  • Did they really have to wait for ISIS to strike in Paris? The group's earlier:

    was not enough? If Anonymous had this capability of hurting ISIS' (impressive) online propaganda, why did they not use it before the attack on Paris?

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Its not really racism, it's mostly that no one feels invested in it unless it happens to them. Sure, they may think to themselves, "let the brown people blow each other up," but what they are really saying is, "no bombings here, not my problem."

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        it's mostly that no one feels invested in it unless it happens to them

        Given the wide scope of their earlier attacks [wikipedia.org] — from Sarah Palin to Tunisian government — they do "feel invested" in whole lot of locations and happenings. It is just that the ISIS — easily the most evil organisation of the 21st century so far — that avoided their wrath despite having a large collection of very juicy online targets [quora.com].

        Whether it is racism or whatever, that Anonymous hasn't done anything until now

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      We have drawn a line in the sand.

      Cross it and we shall draw another.

  • Because intelligence agencies use them to infiltrate terrorist groups and to network through terrorist organizations to the guys calling the shots. By shutting down these channels they are actually making the job harder for intelligence groups as they push terrorists to use more obscure forms of communications like the PSN which are harder for analysts to track. Not that terrorists aren't getting wise and doing this already but not all terrorists are as clever and we certainly want to keep them and their co

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @04:18PM (#50950403) Homepage
    do not want to close them down, they want to monitor them and cross reference them till they can identify the ISIS members. We care far more about that than the minor PR advantages they gain from their existence.

    Twitter, etc have financial concerns and will not put that much money into identifying them, especially when the governments don't push it. But they will be happy to take them down if we do the work of identifying the bad actors.

  • Anonymous is on the job now. Man, they really showed us.

  • FTA "It's also worth exploring the question of why Twitter hasn't already disabled these accounts, and why intelligence agencies haven't done anything about them, if they're so easy to find."

    It's not just Twitter accounts, it seems to be a common pattern whenever most perpetrators of hate or terrorist attacks are analysed - at least some of the those involved have been under surveillance, known to law enforcement, or otherwise under suspicion already. I can understand this being the case once in a while, but it seems like pretty much every time.

    Why is this? It is fear of false positives? Wanting to use known suspicious actors to reveal accomplices? Lack of police resources on the ground? What?

    • I can understand this being the case once in a while, but it seems like pretty much every time.

      Because hindsight is 20/20. Intelligence agencies almost always own the information about an attack before it is committed. But they don't have enough reason to believe that attack is real vs. teh 300 other ones they also have indications of.

  • If any of you happen to have taken over an ISIS Twitter account, please do not post the following to it:

    \_( `.`)_/
    |
    _ /\_

    Although it is not - I repeat NOT - a cartoon of The Prophet Muhammad, some folks might accidentally mistake it for one and become deeply offended. So let's have a little respect and consideration for the religious beliefs of others - after all, wouldn't the ISIS folks do the same for you?

  • "...why Twitter hasn't already disabled these accounts, and why intelligence agencies haven't done anything about them...."

    Because NSA analysis - and possible hexing with fake tweets - of working Daesh accounts is better strategy?

  • by shocking ( 55189 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @06:57PM (#50951629)

    Daesh is about to get screwed by 72 virgins...

  • by Kargan ( 250092 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @07:09PM (#50951709) Homepage

    That legitimizes them. They should be referred to as "Daesh".

    http://www.ibtimes.com/isil-is... [ibtimes.com]

    • by Jack Griffin ( 3459907 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @11:58PM (#50953027)
      Don't even call them that. Call them The Tiny Penises, and every time you see them on TV, or someone mentions them at a dinner party, laugh out loud and say "It's the tiny penises!". Then make lots of tiny penis jokes.
      Being tough guys with a tough sounding name is working in their favour. I suspect ridicule will assist in reducing possible future recruitment.
      Akbal: "Hey Ahmed, I'm thinking of joining ISIS".
      Ahmed "Haha you want to join The Tiny Penises?! Why do you have a tiny penis?"
      Akbal reconsiders and joins goes back to playing Counterstrike instead.
  • I'm sure Anonymous made no mistakes, taking down ONLY accounts that were truly connected to ISIS. The problem with vigilantes is that they shoot first and ask questions later.

  • It is interesting that Anonymous is taking this on at the same time that the group is moving their operations to the dark net.

    http://motherboard.vice.com/re... [vice.com]

    It all seems all too convenient to the larger narrative that is shaping up around the need to crack down on encryption, Tor and other privacy measures. Here we have Anonymous serving as a tool of the powers that be, driving the "bad guys" to encryption through their vigilantism.

    In an effort to do something good, they are inadvertently making things w

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