Twitter says it’s investigating threats that may be linked to extremist group

Twitter says it’s working with law enforcement to investigate a series of threats against its own employees, which surfaced over the weekend on a Twitter account linked to the extremist group known as ISIS or the Islamic State.

It can be difficult to verify the authenticity of such threats, given the murky world of extremist groups and their online sympathizers. But the micro-blogging service has previously shut down several accounts linked to ISIS after they were used to call for violence, which is prohibited by Twitter’s terms of service.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, spotted by the news site Vocativ, the @dawlamoon account called for retaliation via “lone wolf attacks” against Twitter employees here and in Europe.

The @dawlamoon account has also now been shuttered by Twitter. But Vocativ, which uses data-mining software to scour social media and other public web sources for news, reprinted several of the tweets that were originally posted in Arabic. It translated one as saying:

“#The_Concept_of_Lone_Wolf_Attacks The time has arrived to respond to Twitter’s management by directly attacking their employees and physically assassinating them!! Those who will carry this out are the sleepers cells of death.”

In another tweet, the group added:

“#The_Concept_of_Lone_Wolf_Attacks Every Twitter employee in San Francisco in the United States should bear in mind and watch over himself because on his doorstep there might be a lone wolf assassin waiting.”

Vocativ says the @dawlamoon handle is linked to a Jerusalem-based group, Al Nusra Al Maqdisia, or the Supporters of Jerusalem, that has pledged loyalty to ISIS. The account has previously posted statements and other official material from ISIS, but it’s unclear if the threats are a reflection of official ISIS policy, Vocativ added.

ISIS and other extremist groups have become very sophisticated in using social media to broadcast their beliefs and to recruit sympathizers. Vocativ reported that at least a handful of people following the @dawlamoon account were listed as American Twitter users.

Responding to an inquiry from Silicon Beat’s Levi Sumagaysay, Twitter said in a statement: “Our security team is investigating the veracity of these threats with relevant law enforcement officials.” The company did not say if it was changing any of its policies or increasing security measures.

(Photo  of Twitter logo by Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group))




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