By Noah Shachtman December 18, 2008 | 4:53:03 PMCategories: Info War
Online jihadists have already used YouTube, blogs and other social media to spread their propaganda. Now, a group of internet Islamic extremists is putting together a plan for "invading Facebook."
"We can use Facebook to fight the media," notes a recent posting on the extremist al-Faloja forum, translated by Jihadica.com. "We can post media on Facebook that shows the Crusader losses."
"We have already had great success in raiding YouTube," the poster adds. "American politicians have used Facebook to get votes, like the house slave Obama."
Groups like al-Qaida were pioneering users of the internet — to train, share ideas and organize. But some observers, like George Washington University professor Marc Lynch, see a reluctance to embrace Web 2.0 tools like Facebook. "One of the biggest problems for a virtual network like AQ today is that it needs to build connections between its members while protecting itself from its enemies. That's a filtering problem: How do you get your people in, and keep intelligence agents out?" he asks.
But as Jihadica.com author and West Point Combating Terrorism Center fellow William McCants notes, the proposed Facebook invasion "is not an attempt to replicate [existing] social networks." Instead, "the members of the campaign want to exploit existing networks of people who are hostile to them and presumably they will adopt new identities once they have posted their material."
The al-Faloja poster suggests seven "brigades" work together within Facebook. One will distribute videos and writing of so-called "martyrs." Another will spread military training material. Most of them will work in Arabic, presumably. But one of the units will focus just on spread English-language propaganda through Facebook.