December 28, 2022 | Balkan Insight

Salafi-jihadist groups adapt to social media security measures in order to keep up online propaganda

ISD’s Senior Manager for the Strong Cities Network, Simeon Dukić, spoke to the Balkan Insight about how Salafi-jihadist groups are changing their online propaganda tactics to target Albanian speakers in North Macedonia.

“Instead of public content, sharing and communication is done through closed groups and encrypted platforms that are not easily visible and that are more difficult to access,” Simeon said, adding that any openly shared message also includes adjusted language to avoid hate speech classification and content removal from platforms.

Simeon, who also authored a study on online extremism in North Macedonia, explained that extremist groups, like Islamic State and al-Qaeda, are using social media to reach ‘larger audiences, share narratives and mobilise support for their political agenda’.

While it seems that religiously-motivated extremism online may be on the decline due to new social media security tactics and the introduction of algorithms, Simeon said this is not “the whole story” and that supporters are simply changing the way they operate.

“It is important to note that within the religiously motivated radical groups that have an online presence are movements that use Christian symbolism also,” he said.

“For example, the Christian Brotherhood, though it can be primarily classified as a right-wing group, uses Christian symbols and rhetoric in its content. Although there are large differences between groups like the Christian Brotherhood and Salafi-jihadist organisations, the way they use social media is similar.”

The full article is available in the Balkan Insight.