MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Airstrikes and ground forces are not the only way to fight the war on ISIS.
Twitter announced Thursday it suspended 235,000 accounts for promoting terrorism over the past six months.
That brings the total number of frozen users to at least 360,000 since last year.
This announcement is especially significant in Minnesota, where a number of terror suspects arrested have used Twitter to communicate with extremists abroad.
Twitter said it is committed to suspending accounts for violating the company’s “prohibition on violent threats and the promotion of terrorism.”
“It is a fairly significant effort when corporate entities make these types of decisions,” said Kyle Loven, chief division council with the FBI.
He says while the agency defends the First Amendment, this type of corporate action aids law enforcement.
WCCO’s Esme Murphy monitored a number of Twitter accounts with ties to terror. Some, including those of Minnesotans, are now suspended.
“It helps to quell or helps to quash the messaging,” Loven said. “Social media, especially when it comes to encrypted social media, is very difficult for law enforcement.”
Terror recruitment is active in the Twin Cities.
“The FBI continues to labor with the impression we are still having our young people recruited and trying to get them to travel overseas on behalf of terrorist organizations,” Loven said.
During the terror trial of three Somali-American men last spring, an FBI agent testified that another Minnesotan used his Twitter account to encourage others to travel overseas and fight with him for ISIS.
Abdi Nur is believed to have died in Syria. Another local man was arrested after using Twitter to threaten federal agents last year.
“It’s the hope that this type of effort will prevent these types of communications, or at least make it more difficult for some of these actors to communicate with each other,” he said.
Now Loven says if Twitter is taken out of the equation, recruiters will find another way.
We have locally seen Twitter accounts suspended or deactivated, only for users to open new accounts under different names.
The move by Twitter does not mean the end of online recruitment, but this should disrupt it.