A Facebook-style website and a Twitter account launched by supporters of the Islamic State group went offline Monday, a day after their launch. The website, 5elafabook.com, which showed ISIS flags pinned to the United States in a map of the world, was reportedly “temporarily shut down in order to protect the info and details of its members and their safety."
It was not clear who created the page, which was reportedly done using Socialkit, a program that lets users produce do-it-yourself social networks, Reuters reported. The page’s Twitter account was also suspended. ISIS, which has posted several beheading videos on social media, is known to have a well-oiled online propaganda machine that is constantly trying to expand its network by trying to recruit online. However, it has run into roadblocks of late as social media sites like Twitter have started taking down ISIS-related content.
“We reiterate that the purpose of launching the site was to clarify to the whole world that we do not only carry guns and live in caves as they imagine ... we advance with our world and we want advancement to become Islamic," a post on the website said, after it went offline. “If we are to die then martyrdom is our path and generations behind us will fight until victory or martyrdom,” the message on the website added.
Meanwhile, ISIS supporters had started online discussions on whether similar platforms could be used by ISIS to gain intelligence against its enemies, Reuters reported, citing the militancy watchdog SITE Intelligence Group.
"There is no secure website, even if it did belong directly to the Islamic State, because the servers are controlled by the governments, which can take all the IP addresses of those who visited the website," a user, who identified himself as Taqni Minbar, said, according to Reuters.
The move comes as a study last week by the Brookings Institution showed that ISIS supporters operate at least 46,000 Twitter accounts. The report also added that typical ISIS supporters, who were active online, were mostly located in Iraq and Syria, large parts of which are controlled by the group. The study also said that 18,000 Twitter accounts linked to the group were suspended in recent months, Agence France-Presse reported.
"Jihadists will exploit any kind of technology that will work to their advantage," J.M. Berger, a co-author of the study, said, adding that ISIS "is much more successful than other groups."
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Some social media users also questioned why the website's background information depicted the site as being hosted by the Arizona-based web-hosting company Go Daddy.
— ̶̲̅͠м̶̲̅͠ª͕̲͗̅͠ĵ͕͗ (@CyberRog) March 9, 2015
— CyraH (@CyraHrn) March 9, 2015