Sociology Publications

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Working Paper

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terrorism, research, online, Islamic State, deception


This paper explores the problem of deception in online terrorism research. While conducting research into the growing phenomenon of female migration to Islamic State-held territory by Western females, we began following a Twitter account exhibiting suspicious activity. The account owner – believed to be a Canadian teenage female – indicated interest in learning more about joining the IS. We tracked this account for three weeks in order to discover more information about its activities and thus to develop a set of key indicators that might help predict future migration risk. We subsequently learned it was a fake account (‘sock puppet’) established to fool IS recruiters. The operation of such ruses and the problems they create is discussed here.

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