Connect with us

Headline

ISWAP Exploiting WhatsApp, Telegram To Destabilise Nigeria – Report

Published

on

A report by the Institute for Security Studies has revealed that the Boko Haram terrorists’ breakaway group, the Islamic State of West Africa, are skillfully exploiting digital platforms, particularly, WhatsApp and Telegram, to organise and carry out their criminal activities in the West African region.

This is as the institute urged governments across the African continent to pressure tech companies to deal with terrorism online.

The report noted that as the physical and online worlds fuse, many groups, especially Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, are embedding the internet deeper into their operations in the West African region.

Advertisement

Groups such as the Boko Haram breakaway faction, Islamic State West Africa Province, appear to rely on messaging services like WhatsApp and Telegram to communicate internally and externally because they prefer these apps’ encrypted nature. ‘Telegram is becoming the new frontline for terrorist groups in Africa,’ warns Mr Bukarti. ‘On last count, ISWAP had over 50 Facebook and Telegram accounts.’ Furthermore, ‘there’s no scrutiny; nobody seems to care in Africa.

“While larger platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp have the resources to offer a degree of content moderation, many smaller operators don’t. These are the ones terrorist groups prefer’.

“According to researchers such as Bulama Bukarti of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. What’s more, given their decentralised character, these groups are proving harder to intercept and are achieving a reach online that would not be possible in the physical world,” the report said.

It noted that a recent workshop in Ghana organised by Tech Against Terrorism laid out the expansive nature of online terrorist content in West Africa and highlighted strategies to mitigate the risks. TAT is a non-governmental organisation established by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate to forge ties between tech platforms, academia and civil society.

Advertisement

The institute stated further that violent extremist groups in West Africa, especially in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin, use the internet to deliver propaganda, recruit, radicalise and incite attacks, and finance and plan their operations.

When al-Shabaab attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013, the group live-blogged the terrifying event on Twitter, taunting the authorities who were struggling to end the siege. It represented a chilling milestone in the weaponisation of social media platforms and demonstrated the audacity and adaptive nature of Africa’s armed groups.

READ ALSO: Terrorism: There’s Boko Haram, ISWAP In Government – SDP Presidential Candidate, Adewole

“Nearly a decade later, terrorist groups in West Africa are fine-tuning their tactics to hijack social media platforms and messaging apps. Parts of the region have been home to the fastest growing and deadliest violent extremists, the Global Terrorism Index reveals. And there has been a steady rise in incidents where social media platforms and messaging apps have become an integral part of extremists’ modus operandi.

Advertisement

“A former head of Facebook’s Counterterrorism and Dangerous Organizations Policy section and now programming leader for the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, a TAT partner, Dr Erin Saltman, is a prominent voice in this field. She says greater efforts are needed to encourage tech companies to ‘prevent and respond’ to terrorism online by increasing their transparency and reporting while respecting human rights,” the September 15 report added.

It added that Anne Craanen, who monitors developments in West Africa, noted that extremists are now using smaller platforms to circumvent controls aimed at removing terrorist content,

For example, AQIM – arguably the region’s most aggressive user of online communication – uses ‘beacon’ websites to draw internet traffic to smaller sites. It also uses ‘aggregators’ designed to offer viewers a cluster of links to the same piece of terrorist content, to evade content moderation.”

Advertisement

Headline

Meta Deletes 63,000 Accounts In ‘Yahoo Boys’ Crackdown

Published

on

Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has removed 63,000 accounts associated with the notorious “Yahoo Boys” scam group, the company announced in its Q1 2024 Adversarial Threat Report on Wednesday.

The accounts, deleted over the past few weeks, were used for financial sextortion scams and distributing blackmail scripts. Meta reported that a smaller network of 2,500 accounts, linked to around 20 individuals, primarily targeted adult men in the United States using fake identities.

Meta said it identified and disabled these accounts through a combination of advanced technical signals and comprehensive investigations, enhancing its automated detection systems.

Advertisement

“Financial sextortion is a borderless crime, fueled in recent years by the increased activity of Yahoo Boys, loosely organised cybercriminals operating largely out of Nigeria that specialize in different types of scams,” the social media giant stated.

READ ALSO: Apple Challenges Meta In Virtual Reality, Unveils N1.6m Headset

It added, “We’ve removed around 63,000 accounts in Nigeria attempting to target people with financial sextortion scams, including a coordinated network of around 2,500 accounts.”

“We’ve also removed a set of Facebook accounts, Pages, and groups run by Yahoo Boys—banned under our Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy—that were attempting to organize, recruit and train new scammers,” the company explained.

Advertisement

During the investigation, Meta said it found that most scammers’ attempts were unsuccessful, though some had targeted minors. These cases were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Meta revealed that it also shared information with other tech companies via the Tech Coalition’s Lantern program to help curb these scams across platforms.

READ ALSO: FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

Further, the parent company of Facebook said it removed around 7,200 assets in Nigeria, including 1,300 Facebook accounts, 200 pages, and 5,700 groups that were providing scam-related resources.

Advertisement

These assets were found offering scripts and guides for scams and sharing links to collections of photos for creating fake accounts, it expounded.

Since this disruption, Meta’s systems have been actively blocking attempts from these groups to return, continually improving their detection capabilities.

The company noted that it has also been working closely with law enforcement, supporting investigations and prosecutions by responding to legal requests and alerting authorities to imminent threats.

READ ALSO: Top 10 Richest People In The World

Advertisement

The social media giant stated that its efforts extend beyond account removal.

“We also fund and support NCMEC and the International Justice Mission to run Project Boost, a program that trains law enforcement agencies around the world in processing and acting on NCMEC reports.

“We’ve conducted several training sessions so far, including in Nigeria and the Cote d’Ivoire, with our most recent session taking place just last month,” the firm revealed.

To protect users, especially teens, Meta disclosed that it has implemented stricter messaging settings for users under 16 (under 18 in certain countries) and displays safety notices to encourage cautious behaviour online.

Advertisement

READ ALSO: FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

Last week, Meta was fined $220m by Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for multiple violations of data protection laws linked to WhatsApp.

The investigation, initiated in May 2021, found that Meta’s privacy policies infringed on users’ rights, including unauthorized data sharing and discriminatory practices.

Meta plans to appeal the decision, arguing that it disagrees with the findings and the imposed penalty. The FCCPC aims to ensure fair treatment of Nigerian users and compliance with local regulations.

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Headline

FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

Published

on

The Federal Government has announced a slash in allowances of foreign scholars who are currently studying in Moscow, Russia.

This is contained in a letter dated July 23, 2024, issued to the scholars’ association in country by the Federal Scholarship Board under the Federal Ministry of Education.

The students are studying under the Federal Government’s Bilateral Educational Agreement Scholarship, which is for the purpose of education exchange between Nigeria and the other countries.

Advertisement

READ ALSO: Plane Crashes On Takeoff In Nepal With 19 Aboard

The letter, which was signed by the Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Ndajiwo H.A., on behalf of the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman reads, “A: FG slashes allowances of Nigerian foreign scholars over hardship”

According to the letter, the monthly allowances were slashed from $500 to $220; the graduation allowance from $2500 to $2000; and the PG research allowance was slashed from $1,000 to $500.

The total for the payments initially paid was $5,650 per student but will now be $4,370 but allowance for health insurance, pilot allowance and Medical allowance remains $200, $700 and $500 as before.

Advertisement

READ ALSO: Plane Crashes On Takeoff In Nepal With 19 Aboard

The letter reads: “The Scholars’ Association is hereby notified that due to the prevailing economic situation, the payment mandate for the BEA scholars’ allowances will be as per the new adjustment.”

“The balances for the years 2023 and 2024 owed to scholars will be paid as soon as the funds are made available,” the letter reads.

Meanwhile, reports has it that the scholars have not been paid for close to eight months and have endured financial strain due to the delay in receiving their stipends.

Advertisement

 

Continue Reading

Headline

BREAKING: SGF, NSA, Ministers In Emergency Meeting Over Planned Nationwide Protest

Published

on

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, George Akume, is currently meeting with ministers over the planned nationwide protest against economic hardship.

READ ALSO::Four Suspected Cultists Arrested With Arms In Edo

The meeting, which is taking place behind closed doors, has all the over 40 ministers in President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet in attendance.

Advertisement

Some of the Ministers spotted are Nyesom Wike (FCT), Yusuf Tuggar (Foreign Affairs), Zephaniah Jisalo (Special Duties), Tahir Mamman (Education), and Abubakar Bagudu (Budget and Planning).

Others are Wale Edun (Finance), Mohammed Idris (Information), Bello Matawalle (Defence), David Umahi (Works), and the National Security Adviser (NSA) Nuhu Ribadu, amongst others.

Recall that the President had earlier on Tuesday pleaded with Nigerians to shelve the #EndBadGovernance protest slated to commence on August 1.

The protest against economic hardship, organized by faceless persons, has gained traction on social media and is scheduled to hold across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

Advertisement

Details shorly…

Continue Reading

Trending