Publication:
Social Media Exploitation by Covert Networks: A Case Study of ISIS

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Authors
Freeman, Lee
Schroeder, Robert
Everton, Sean F.
Subjects
Social Media
Covert Networks
ISIS
Social Media Analysis
Social Media Exploitation
Intelligence Gathering
Case Study
Advisors
Date of Issue
2017-08
Date
8-2017
Publisher
Language
Abstract
Social media has quickly become a dominant mode of professional and personal communication. Unfortunately, groups who intend to perform illegal and/or harmful activities (such as gangs, criminal groups, and terrorist groups) also use it. These covert networks use social media to foster membership, communicate among followers and nonfollowers, and obtain ideological and financial support. This exploitation of social media has serious political, cultural, and societal repercussions that go beyond stolen identities, hacked systems, or loss of productivity. There are literal life-and-death consequences of the actions of the groups behind these covert networks. However, through tracking and analyzing social media content, government agencies (in particular those in the intelligence community) can mitigate this threat by uncovering these covert networks, their communication, and their plans. This paper introduces common social media analysis techniques and the current approaches of analyzing covert networks. A case study of the Syrian conflict, with particular attention on ISIS, highlights this exploitation and the process of using social media analysis for intelligence gathering. The results of the case study show that covert networks are resilient and continually adapt their social media use and presence to stay ahead of the intelligence community.
Type
Article
Description
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.17705/1CAIS.04105
Series/Report No
Department
Defense Analysis (DA)
Other Units
Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.)
Identifiers
NPS Report Number
Sponsors
Secretary of Defense Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO)
Funder
Format
25 p.
Citation
Freeman, Lee, Robert Schroeder, and Sean F. Everton. "Social Media Exploitation by Covert Networks: A Case Study of ISIS." Communications of the Association for Information Systems 41.1 (2017): 5.
Distribution Statement
Rights
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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