Analysing social media

Foreign terrorist fighters use social media for recruitment, radicalization, planning and funding.

In a joint project with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT), we analyse the terrorist use of social media platforms to help gather open-source intelligence on terrorist groups, their propaganda and activities.

We run regular workshops for investigators, covering four main areas:

  • detecting terrorist-related activities online;
  • collecting e-evidence;
  • requesting e-evidence across borders;
  • engaging with the private sector to advance investigations by law enforcement agencies.

The workshops also serve to enhance participants’ understanding of the phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) more generally, such as gender stereotypes and the increasing involvement of women in terrorist activities.

Facial recognition technology can also be applied to social media. It offers new opportunities to share and compare data in order to identify terrorists, unknown persons of interest, and subjects who may appear in posts on social media channels.

One of the ways in which we support counter-terrorism investigations is by searching social media platforms in order to identify potential witnesses. We did this following the London Bridge attack in the UK in 2017, and the attack at a hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya, in January 2019.