European police remove 26,000 pieces of Islamic State content from social media

Accused terrorists long have exploited algorithms to capitalize on users’ attention.
Telegram app, WhatsApp
(Getty Images)

European police agencies in recent days have removed a number of servers that the Islamic State terrorist group relied on to communicate internally, and amplify propaganda.

In a statement Monday, Europol said it worked with internet companies like Google and Twitter to remove messaging from the group. Authorities said they eliminated 26,000 pieces of content from several sites, such as videos, social media accounts, communication channels and posts. Police have described the takedown as a major blow to the extremist’s radicalization efforts.

Police in Spain’s Canary Islands also arrested one suspect accused of being “part of the core disseminators” of the group’s recruitment and radicalization efforts.

“Prevention is a crucial part of the fight against terrorism because, when we disrupt the propaganda machine of terrorist organizations, we also disrupt radicalization, the recruitment of potential terrorists and also further spreading of the message that could lead to terrorist attacks,” said Ladislav Hamran, president of Eurojust, an agency of the European Union, during a press conference Monday.


Google, Twitter, Instagram and Telegram all participated in authorities’ effort to remove this content. A “significant portion of key actors within the IS network” were operating on Telegram, an encrypted messaging service that European law enforcement officials praised for helping to “root out” content of this kind.

The Islamic State is effectively “not present on the internet anymore,” Belgian Federal Prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt said during the same press conference.

Some IS-linked accounts have insisted they will regain their presence on Telegram while others have suggested moving to alternative services like Riot or RocketChat, according to the BBC.

Accused terrorists long have exploited algorithms to capitalize on users’ attention. U.S. authorities have alleged that Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American man, was a senior recruiter and motivator for the militant group Al Qaeda, and primarily spread his message via YouTube. The video streaming site for years has worked to remove tens of thousands of videos from its search results.

Jeff Stone

Written by Jeff Stone

Jeff Stone is the editor-in-chief of CyberScoop, with a special interest in cybercrime, disinformation and the U.S. justice system. He previously worked as an editor at the Wall Street Journal, and covered technology policy for sites including the Christian Science Monitor and the International Business Times.

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