The Social Network That Can't Stop ISIS

Why Diaspora says it can't stop ISIS from using its network.

August 21, 2014, 2:41 PM
PHOTO: A post on the Diaspora blog warning of possible ISIS using their site.
A post on the Diaspora blog warning of possible ISIS using their site.

— -- While Twitter cracks down on ISIS propaganda following the execution of journalist James Foley, another social network admits it can't stop militants from migrating to its site.

The team behind Diaspora, a social network without any central leadership, said they were "concerned" about propaganda on their social network, but added that there is little they can do to stop it.

"There is no central server, and there is therefore no way for the project's core team to manipulate or remove contents from a particular node in the network (which we call a 'pod'). This may be one of the reasons which attracted IS activists to our network," a post on the social network's website said.

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The site runs on free open source software and allows groups to be divided into pods. Each pod has an administrator and full autonomy to use it however they choose.

Diaspora's creators said they have made a list of accounts related to ISIS fighters and are talking to the administrators of each pod. The diplomatic approach has worked so far for the larger pods, which have followed up by removing ISIS related accounts and posts, according to Diaspora.

With ISIS related content dispersed over "a large number of pods," it remained unclear if there was anything else the site's creators could do to stamp out propaganda.

Diaspora was launched in 2010 after a crowd-funding campaign spearheaded by four students in New York.

Twitter had previously been a popular place for ISIS fighters and supporters. However, after gruesome images of journalist James Foley's beheading spread on Twitter earlier this week, the social network said it was actively suspending accounts that showed the graphic imagery.