The study released by the Woodrow Wilson Center's DC Commons Lab found terrorist groups have moved their online presence to outlets such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
    
"All terrorist organisations are online using many platforms," said Gabriel Weimann, a University of Haifa professor of communication and author of the report.
    
"From the point of view of a terrorist, (social media) provides an important advantage: anonymity," Weimann told a forum at the Wilson Center where the study was released.
    
Weimann said these social media have become important tools for recruitment, propaganda, fundraising and even for training - such as how to build a bomb.
    
Weimann, who has been studying communications of terrorists for years, said that in 1998 only 12 terrorist-related websites were in existence, and now the figure has grown to nearly 10,000 plus related social media presence.
    
"They have launched forums and chatrooms. They added social media," he said.
    
Weiman said the groups "never invented anything" online but have taken advantage of online freedom to create tools such as the slick online English-language magazine "Inspire" used to recruit and train sympathizers in the United States and elsewhere.
    
Social media allow terrorist groups to take a more proactive role in reaching people, and can connect more easily with a younger audience.
    
"Terrorists have good reasons to use social media," he says in the study.

 (Agencies)

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