Twitter’s takedown of ISIS accounts still unsatisfactory

While Twitter is making some efforts to thwart ISIS recruiting, fundraising, and planning efforts, there is still much more to be done.

A 3D plastic representation of the Twitter and Youtube logo is seen in front of a displayed ISIS flag in this photo illustration in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

A 3D plastic representation of the Twitter and Youtube logo is seen in front of a displayed ISIS flag in this photo illustration in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

The recent announcement that Twitter has taken down 125,000 counts in the last six or so months sounded like they are making substantial gains in stopping ISIS recruitment, fundraising, and planning efforts. That gives people faith that the Internet community is doing its part in protecting the nation and the world.

It is however curious as to why Twitter decided to make this random announcement given the timing of a lawsuit filed against them, three weeks prior, by Tamara Fields, the widow of Lloyd Fields Jr., who was killed in an ISIS attack. The suit contends that Twitter gave ISIS an unfettered platform to grow their terrorist network and plan attacks for several years. The lawsuit contends that Twitter violated the Anti-Terrorism Act, by providing significant support to ISIS.

We previously interviewed Wauchula Ghost, the spokesperson for GhostSec, for The Irari Report. In response to the Fields lawsuit and Twitter’s latest actions, he insisted that Twitter needs to step up the pace, if they want to do anything significant to stop ISIS’ use of their service.

He claims that GhostSec, other Anonymous supporters, and random citizens are reporting thousands of accounts, and Twitter has not been responding fast enough. There is also an apparent disconnect in how people are reporting accounts. Anti-ISIS activists are creating lists of accounts, and attempting to submit the lists to Twitter. However Twitter will apparently only investigate an account, if you go to the account on Twitter, and report that account individually through the site reporting feature.

While the lawsuit against Twitter is likely to fail, it does highlight the need to consider how Twitter and other social networks are policing themselves. Most social networks claim that they qualify as a publisher under the Communications Decency Act, so any efforts they put into removing ISIS accounts from their network is purely voluntary.

Ideally though, Twitter and other social networks will stop putting out press releases after they get sued, and proactively taking actions that significantly hamper terrorist actions.

Ira Winkler, CISSP can be reached through and Araceli Treu Gomes can be reached through

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags twitter

More about Twitter

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by By Ira Winkler and Araceli Treu Gomes

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place