Anonymous launches attack on ISIS Twitter followers

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Hacker group Anonymous has launched an attack on ISIS sympathisers on Twitter by publishing more than 750 usernames on the Pastebin website.

Many of these accounts had upwards of 10,000 followers, demonstrating the support ISIS is getting from users of the social network.

To draw attention to the accounts, it bombarded them with pictures of the ISIS-Chan anime character to try and draw search engines to the accounts and block them from search results. Many of the accounts were suspended or closed down as a result of Anonymous' actions.

The group also attacked other social media accounts of sympathisers as well as blogs, websites and web proxies and requested that users of Twitter report accounts that seemingly support ISIS for being "being abusive or harmful", "engaging in harassment", and "threatening violence or physical harm" via Twitter's Report feature.

Rashad Ali, a senior fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue told the BBC: "The action is both positive and negative. Practically speaking, you are getting rid of a whole host of people from the public domain," he said, adding that such a large takedown can undoubtedly have an impact.

"However, it's not a solution because what we now need to do is not just take down accounts but actually provide new narratives for people," he added. "This is where we are failing. We have not had a strong, thought-out counter-argument to IS's message."

Twitter already has a policy of deleting accounts it thinks are linked to terrorist organisations such as ISIS, but Anonymous' efforts will surely help boost its efforts.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.