The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, has been operating internationally and garnering support on the internet. By creating more online accounts than they have members, they’ve also made themselves appear larger than they are. Alphabet believes that that they have a plan to limit ISIS’ communication efforts online. While it would be impossible to keep anybody, including ISIS and their members and supporters, from operating on the dark web via TOR, Google’s Idea Director Jared Cohen has proposed a targeted campaign to disrupt their recruitment and propaganda efforts by eliminating them from the open, searchable web that most people use.
In order for ISIS communications to be blocked from the open web entirely though, a concerted effort would have to be made by the higher ups of all the platforms they operate on. For Cohen, this step is essential as he states that “ISIS is the first terrorist organization to occupy and hold both physical territory and digital territory,”. Naturally, since most of the channels ISIS operates through are made locally, the preservation of free speech as a human right presents a bit of an issue for companies and entities in the United States when trying to run any sort of pacification or target specific content. Since ISIS has produced videos that have garnered massive amounts of viewers, as well as hijacked social media trends and creating their own to spread their influence, those who want to see them gone view this as a necessary evil of sorts.
In order to accomplish this, not only must accounts be taken down as fast as they can be made, but Cohen did state that members posting in support of ISIS should have a fear of some sort of retribution beyond merely having their account closed, which is seen as honorable in some circles. ISIS has been known to use encrypted apps such as Telegram, or simply develop their own, in order to communicate over the web, however this communication is not easily available to the masses. Many factions have made vows to see ISIS fall and a good number of elements, including Alphabet, believe that the first front in doing that is to take away their support channels on the internet. Cohen does warn, however, that this alone won’t be enough.