A new report from the United Nations claims terrorists are using social networking sites to recruit supporters, transmit propaganda, and plan disruptive attacks.
Bloomberg is reporting that the U.N. is worried that “promotion of extremist rhetoric encouraging violent acts is also a common trend across the growing range of Internet-based platforms that host user-generated content”—especially Facebook.
The findings, from a 148-page report titled “The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes,” were released Monday at a meeting of counterterrorism officials in Vienna. U.N. officials reportedly want member countries to pass laws to target cyberterrorists and allow law enforcement agencies to collaborate across borders.
The report says that terrorists have gone high-tech and no longer distribute information via CDs or DVDs. Rather, they are using websites, online forums, social networks, and file-sharing services, like YouTube or Rapidshare, to communicate.
Users who publish sensitive information—voluntarily or inadvertently—on “popular social networking media” (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr) should be monitored, the U.N. suggests in the report.
“While the intent of those distributing the information may be to provide news or other updates to their audience for informational or social purposes, some of this information may be misappropriated and used for the benefit of criminal activity,” the report states.
In addition to disseminating information through those methods, terrorists are finding them to be an optimal tool for recruiting sympathizers.
“Terrorist organizations increasingly use propaganda distributed via platforms such as password-protected websites and restricted access Internet chat groups as a means of clandestine recruitment,” the report states.
To combat terrorists who use the Internet to their advantage, the U.N. is asking member states to draft “clear national policies” criminalizing acts of terrorism using the Internet. The UN is pushing members to bolster their intelligence-gathering and increase international collaboration to stay a step ahead of terrorists.
Photo via United Nations Information Centre/Facebook