Islamic State has finally had enough of being blacklisted by popular social media sites and has decided to take matters into its own hands. Just weeks after warning Twitter founder Jack Dorsey that ISIS “lions” were “coming to take [his] breath,” it appears the group may be plotting to carry out their revenge the way any good capitalist would: by launching a competing product.
Islamic State supporters, facing regular bans and blockages on Facebook and other social networks, have launched their own CaliphateBook to spread their militant message over the Internet.
The site 5elafabook.com, which resembled Facebook but appeared unfinished, went live on Sunday then went offline again a day later and its linked Twitter account was shut down (ZH: Jack Dorsey apparently wants to protect his market leader position)...
It was unclear who created 5elafabook.com -- a name based on an English transliteration of the Arabic word for caliphate 'khelafa' -- or how many members it attracted.
The group, known for its slickly produced videos, demonstrated a bit less in the way of technical expertise with this effort, turning to “Socialkit,” a DIY product available for the bargain price of $40.
As Reuters notes, members were initially split on whether the group should make the always tricky leap from Caliphate to social network proprietor, but in the end, the opportunity to clear up mainstream misconceptions about what the group is all about outweighed more general concerns about security:
Islamic State supporters held a debate in a separate web forum on whether platforms like 5elafabook could be trusted or whether they could be used by IS's enemies to gain intelligence, according to the militancy watchdog SITE Intelligence Group.
"There is no secure website, even if it did belong directly to the Islamic State, because the servers are controlled by the governments, which can take all the IP addresses of those who visited the website," said a user calling himself Taqni Minbar.
The message on 5elafabook.com said the site's main purpose "was to clarify to the whole world that we do not only carry guns and live in caves as they imagine ... We advance with our world and we want advancement to become Islamic."
Although the site is “temporarily shut down in order to protect the info and details of its members" — which presumably robs us of the best chance we had at identifying those “recruits and people who may carry out attacks” that the FBI recently told us to be on the look out for — we would note that thanks to a new 70-page study by The Brookings Institute, we finally have a profile of the archetypal terrorist Twitter user. Behold:
ISIS supporters are not Apple fanboys…
...generally lean towards mentioning ISIS in hashtags (makes sense)...
...prefer terror-related avatars but in a bind will settle for the generic “white egg on green background”...
...like being where the action is but don’t mind Hawaii and Arizona…
… and generally send between 0-50 tweets per day…
Here’s a an overview of what Brookings thinks are the key talking points:
And while New Yorkers are busy looking over their shoulders for suspicious-looking, murderous ISIS terrorists who may or may not be plotting (from their Brooklyn apartments) to assassinate a diplomat, Brookings can tell you exactly where the bad guys are based on their tweets:
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This exhaustive study would appear to validate the concerns some ISIS supporters had about their whereabouts being determined based on their use of social networks.
While we’re not sure if CaliphateBook (screenshot below) will ever catch on, we do advise you to be suspicious of anyone eating Nutella while tweeting.