What should you do if you find terrorist content on your social pages?

Reporting terrorist content on social mediaIn the fall-out from the horrific ISIS attack on Manchester Arena on Monday, the UK terror threat has been raised to its highest level of ‘critical’ as authorities fear that more attacks are imminent. Whilst MI5 is working round the clock to keep us safe from this, terrorist supporters are celebrating their victory and spreading extremist views in any way they can, especially on social media.

Brands are seeing increased numbers of posts on their social media pages containing terrorist propaganda.

Social media is a key place for ISIS and other terrorist groups to recruit people for their cause, gather support for their actions, and broadcast their intentions to carry out attacks like the one on Manchester Arena. This makes it crucial that brands and individuals start to carefully monitor their social media pages for content relating to terrorist activity so that the nation can help authorities combat and prepare for further attacks.

We’ve put together our top tips for brands and individuals to make it easy to spot terrorist content, and what to do when you do find it on your social media channels.

What does terrorist content look like?

There are normally two types of terrorist content: 

Terrorism Propaganda: Posts containing no specific threats to harm, but that express sympathy to terrorist causes or promote terrorist causes via text or imagery.

Terrorism Threat: A post that contains a threat of action on behalf of a terrorist organization that would bring certain physical harm or death to the wider general public.

To spot both types of content, look out for combinations of words and phrases such as ‘crusaders’, ‘soldiers’, ‘in the name of’, ‘revenge in response to’, ‘shameless’. In the case of ISIS content, you may find a combination of ‘Allah’s permission’, ‘God Akbar, Allah Akbar’, ‘Iraq’, ‘Syria’, ‘God willing’, ‘Islamic State’, ‘just terror’.

It’s reported that the terrorist who bombed Manchester Arena posted tweets like these ahead of the attack:

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What should you do if you find terrorist content?

1. Start by taking a screen grab of the post and saving it. This is important, so that you have evidence of it should the poster later delete it.

2. For content appearing on your Facebook or Instagram pages you should then ‘hide’ it from your followers. This means only the poster and their friends will see it, so their message is not being spread further to your followers. You then need to report it to Facebook or Instagram (see point 4).

3. For the other social channels you manage e.g. LinkedIn, YouTube (but not Twitter), where ‘hide’ is not an option, you can report the item (see point 4) and then delete it.

4. If you see something that's not on the pages you mange but on the wider web you cannot delete someone else’s post, so your only option is to report it to the platform. The platform can then remove the post and gather intelligence for the proper authorities. You can read some guidelines here on how best to report content to make sure you capture the full context of the offending comment, video or image.

Every platform has its own reporting procedures, here are links to the major social platforms’ reporting procedures.

If you find extreme propaganda or a severe threat, you should also report it to the US authorities at: https://tips.fbi.gov or to UK authorities: https://www.report-terrorist-material.homeoffice.gov.uk/report who will review your report quickly.

If the threat is imminent and credible, call 911 in the US or 999 in the UK.