As the social media battle with Islamic State escalates, a report from the Brookings Institution warns that ISIS supporters may be operating more than 46,000 Twitter accounts.
The 68-page report, which was released this month, underlines the potential scale of ISIS’ social media presence, even as companies such as Twitter clamp down on the group’s twisted activities. The micro-blogging site recently took the decision to suspend at least 2,000 accounts linked to the brutal terror group and its supporters.
The Brookings Institution study estimates that, between September and December 2014, at least 46,000 Twitter accounts were used by ISIS supporters, although not all were active at the same time.
The report, however, warns that the 46,000 number is a conservative estimate. “Our maximum estimate is in the neighborhood of 70,000 accounts; however, we believe the truth is closer to the low end of the range,” wrote J.M. Berger and Jonathan Morgan, the report’s authors.
The accounts have an average of 1,004 followers, the report said.
“Much of ISIS’s social media success can be attributed to a relatively small group of hyperactive users, numbering between 500 and 2,000 accounts, which tweet in concentrated bursts of high volume,” wrote Berger and Morgan.
The Brookings Institution report is based on a sample of 20,000 accounts believed to be comprised of at least 93 percent ISIS supporters.
Typical ISIS supporters were located within the organization’s territories in Syria and Iraq, as well as in regions contested by ISIS. Hundreds of ISIS-supporting accounts sent tweets with location metadata embedded, according to the Brookings Institution.
The study found that almost one in five ISIS supporters selected English as their primary language when using Twitter. Three quarters selected Arabic.
Twitter has not yet responded to a request for comment on this story from FoxNews.com.
In addition to social media such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, the terror group and its supporters have also made their presence felt through hacking activity.
Last month military spouses were the target of the hacking group describing itself as “CyberCaliphate,” which claims affiliation to the Islamic State.
The attack was the latest in a spate of hacks by apparent cyber jihadists, which saw Newsweek’s Twitter account hacked by a group also describing itself as “CyberCaliphate.” The hackers briefly changed the @Newsweek profile picture and banner to an image of a masked man and the black standard that is the symbol of the terror organization ISIS. The profile also bore the message “Je suIS IS."
In January a “Cyber Caliphate” group seized the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts, prompting the military to tighten its social media password security.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers