Terrorist groups, blacklisted by the US, are relying on Facebook to urge users to join and support Hezbollah, Hamas and other militant groups.
"Today, about 90 percent of organized terrorism on the Internet is being carried out through the social media. By using these tools, the organizations are able to be active in recruiting new friends without geographical limitations," says Gabriel Weimann, professor at the University of Haifa.
"The most advanced of Western communication technology is, paradoxically, what the terror organizations are now using to fight the West," Weimann said.
Over the past 10 years, Weimann has been conducting a study of encoded and public Internet sites of such terror groups, their sympathisers, forums, video clips, and whatever information relating to global terrorism is running through the network.
The shift to social media, and especially Facebook and Twitter, has not bypassed terrorist groups, who are keenly interested in recruiting new support in the new media's various arenas, chat rooms, YouTube, Myspace, and more, adds Weimann.
"The social media is enabling the terror organizations to take initiatives by making 'Friend' requests, uploading video clips, and the like, and they no longer have to make do with the passive tools available on regular websites," he notes.
Facebook platform is being used as a resource for gathering intelligence. A statement originating from Lebanon has reported that Hezbollah is searching for material on the Israeli army's Facebook activity. Many countries such as the US, Canada and the UK have instructed their soldiers to remove personal information from this network as a precaution in case Al Qaeda is monitoring it.
The following correspondence, for example, could easily be found on the open, non-coded forum belonging to Hamas's military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades: "I have a kilogram of acetone. I want to know how to make an explosive with it to blow up a military jeep." A forum member promptly responded with descriptive instructions on how to turn the explosive liquid into a destructive tool.