WASHINGTON: Islamic State (IS) supporters are operating a minimum of 46,000 Twitter accounts, a 92-page study by global think tank Brookings Institution has revealed.
The study also found that at least 1,000 accounts supportive of IS, and possibly many more, were suspended by Twitter from September to December last year, the New York Times reported.
The study titled "The ISIS Twitter Census" that was financed by Google Ideas is the first public attempt to measure the influence of IS members or their sympathisers on social media. "ISIS has been able to exert an outsized impact on how the world perceives it," the study noted.
The IS users include a disciplined core group that sends messages frequently and understands how to maximise its impact.
"Jihadists will exploit any kind of technology that will work to their advantage but the Islamic State is much more successful than other groups," J.M. Berger, lead author of the study and an expert on online extremism, was quoted as saying.
According to Berger, the threats against Twitter and its employees reflected the IS's increased reliance on open social media forums. Twitter is investigating threats against its employees.
"Our security team is investigating the veracity of these threats with relevant law enforcement officials," the company said in the statement recently. Twitter's user policy prohibits the posting of direct threats against other people.
Since last June, Twitter, together with other social networks, has been closing accounts of IS supporters.
The IS began posting videos of hostage executions and other atrocities last summer, generating a frenzy of media attention and speculation about its online propaganda and support, the NYT report said.
Highly active and committed IS supporters are an insignificant speck in the overall sea of Twitter's active monthly user base, the study noted.
Twitter currently has more than 288 million active users worldwide.