‘Internet Archive’ Used By IS Supporters To Hide IS Propaganda: Research

While multiple online platforms are trying to delete Islamic State online propaganda, the militant organization’s supports are using the Internet Archive to bypass those efforts according to a study.

The extremist group used two hidden forums and the report examined hundreds of thousands of links that were posted there.

In the last two years, both of the forums, the type of links that were found to be the most common is archive.org.

Pages which could otherwise be erased from the net are allowed to be saved by users by this US-based service.

It was taking steps to address the issue, a spokesman for the Internet Archive told the media.

Cyber-security firm Flashpoint had carried out the research.

The firm claimed that the “deep web” – which are sties that do not normally appear in search engine results but are accessible by a normal web browser, is the location of the two forums.

The names for independent verification were not provides to the media.

The time period of the posts that the researchers examined were from the beginning of 2015 till the end of 2017 and they gathered a of over 730,000 web links from one of the forums while 290,000 were collected form the other.

14.3% of the harvested links that were on the larger forum in 2017 and 11.4% of those on the smaller forum was accounted for by archive.org, the research claimed.

The second most common forum was YouTube links and the third were Google links.

Examination of the data that the Flashpoint research team had gathered and some of the forum comments that it had read led them to conclude that in March 2016, IS supporters identified the Internet Archive’s website-recording service and began intentionally posting links there.

Apparently, the reason for this was partly because of the efforts by Twitter and other services of deleting offending accounts and extremist content.

“The use of [the Internet Archive] has allowed the group to achieve persistence whenever content posted to a site such as justpaste.it is removed for violating terms of service,” wrote Ken Wolf, senior analyst at Flashpoint.

“In addition, the data suggests that rather than waiting for these pages to be archived by the service’s web crawler, members are actively archiving pages after creating them.

“This is evidenced by links to archived sites appearing in the same post as the link to the original content.”

“Digital library”, a not-for-profit organization supported by users’ donations run the Internet Archive.

Therefore, there is not the requisite funds available with it to finance R&D to develop search-and-destroy efforts based on artificial intelligence.

“Much of this content is taken down promptly upon our being made aware of it, for example content with executions or personal threats,” explained Chris Butler.

“Other extremist material may be sequestered and/or placed behind barriers to deter the use of our site for promotional, propagandistic purposes while keeping it preserved, which various journalists, academics, law enforcement officials, and other researchers have all let us know is important and useful in their work.

“We find that this intervention tends to reduce the number of views of these materials dramatically.”

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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