Since October 7, 2023, when Hamas launched an attack on Israel, much has been made about Hamas and its supporters’ exploitation of social media to further their violent aims. Indeed, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and X, formerly Twitter, have banned accounts linked to Hamas, as well as removed hundreds – if not thousands – of posts expressing support for the group.
The platform X, in particular, has come under scrutiny for the scale and scope of content glorifying the Hamas attack, which is viewable on the platform. For example, on October 10, European Commissioner Thierry Breton wrote to X owner Elon Musk, expressing the commission’s concern that the platform “is being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation in the EU.”
In response, Musk touted X’s “open source and transparent” policy, urging Breton to “post [his] concerns explicitly on this platform.” X CEO Linda Yaccarino defended the platform’s content moderation efforts in an October 11 letter to Breton, in which she highlighted that the platform has “taken action to remove or label tens of thousands of pieces of content” since Hamas’ attack on Israel. She also reaffirmed that “There is no place on X for terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups and we continue to remove such accounts in real time.”
Nevertheless, dozens of U.S.-designated terrorists have long operated openly on X, and – since Hamas’ attack on Israel – many of them have used the platform to glorify the group’s operation and incite more violence. These terrorists have further amplified the reach of official Hamas propaganda to audiences of millions, enabling the group to evade targeted moderation efforts.
As such, in the following report, MEMRI JTTM undertakes a survey of terrorists which maintain accounts on X, documenting selected posts by these accounts between October 7 and October 10 – the first three days after Hamas’ attack on Israel.
The report supplements previous MEMRI JTTM reports, which compiled reactions to the attack, and seeks to expand on these efforts with the aim of shedding light on the scale and scope of terrorist use of social media.
Foreign terrorist organizations with a presence on X which are mentioned in this report include Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Lebanese Hizbullah (LH), Iran-backed militias in Iraq, such as the Al-Nujaba’ Movement, Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haqq (AAH), and the Hizbullah Brigades, and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF). Yemen’s Ansar Allah Houthi Movement is also included, although the U.S. delisted the group in 2021. Other non-designated organizations are also included in this report, such as Iraq’s Sayyed Al-Shuhada Brigades and the Imam Ali Brigades.
The report focuses its analysis on foreign terrorist organizations, leaders, and media outlets on X which are affiliated with the so-called Axis of Resistance – an Iran-led network of state and non-state actors in the Middle East. The possible involvement of elements of the resistance axis in planning and coordinating Hamas’ attack on Israel has been noted. Thus, posts by such groups are of particular concern, given the prospects of their future involvement in an expanded regional conflict.
Among the report’s key findings:
- MEMRI JTTM identified and surveyed 25 accounts on X associated with eight Iran-backed terrorist groups across the Middle East.Iran-backed terrorists maintain a visible presence on X.
- Iran-backed terrorists have access to a sizeable audience on the platform. These 25 accounts command a cumulative following of more than 5,308,525 users, as of this report.
- Iran-backed terrorists actively propagate violent content to millions of users. Between October 7 and 10, these 25 accounts shared a total of 2,521 posts, which were viewed more than 26,476,089 times.
- U.S.-Designated terrorists operate openly on X despite sanctions. At least 10 U.S.-designated terrorists have accounts on X, despite their designated status.
- Iran-backed terrorists maintain a presence on X, despite previous suspensions. A majority of accounts have faced previous account suspensions on X but evade moderation efforts by opening new accounts on the platform.
- Some Iran-backed terrorists are verified on X. Roughly 30 percent of accounts associated with Iran-backed terrorist groups have received verified status on the platform.
This report surveys Iran-backed terrorist groups on X, providing account summaries and metrics gauging their estimated reach during the first three days following of Hamas’ attack on Israel. Subsequent reports will further analyze posts by these accounts.
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RELATED POST ON X:
The 401st Brigade has eliminated approximately 150 terrorists and gained control over Hamas terrorist strongholds in northern Gaza.
🎯 Arms production site
🎯 Launching stations
🎯 An underground network pic.twitter.com/GHevfhPQyi
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) November 10, 2023
EDITORS NOTE: This MEMRI report is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.