The fundamentalist militant group ISIS has capitalized on the power of social media to spread its message and recruit new followers, but social networks and governments are fighting back. On Thursday, VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook, announced it will ban accounts affiliated with the ISIS terrorist group.
“We are shutting down all communities and personal accounts that promote ISIS and have been found by our moderators or reported by users,” George Lobushkin, VKontakte’s spokesperson, told Mashable, adding that VKontakte has identified and banned 62 ISIS-related pages as of Friday morning.
Also on Friday, the German government made it a crime to support ISIS, including posting messages of support or propaganda on social media. Violating the ban is punishable by jail time.
This is part of a growing trend to fight ISIS online. In the wake of the grisly video showing journalist James Foley’s execution, Twitter on August 20 said it would suspend accounts that shared images of Foley’s death.
Twitter also shut down an ISIS-affiliated account Monday that called for the assassination of Twitter employees, saying that if Twitter does not “stop their campaign in the virtual world, we will … bring the war to them in the real world on the ground.”
Internet users have joined the fight as well. Bellingcat, an open-source news project that got its start on Kickstarter, may have found the location of an ISIS training camp by comparing satellite images with ISIS-shared videos and photos.