#FailedRevolutions: Using Twitter to study the antecedents of ISIS support


  • Walid Magdy Qatar Computing Research Institute
  • Kareem Darwish Qatar Computing Research Institute
  • Ingmar Weber Qatar Computing Research Institute




ISIS, ISIL, Terrorism, Twitter, Social Media,


Lately, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has managed to control large parts of Syria and Iraq. To better understand the roots of support for ISIS, we present a study using Twitter data. We collected a large number of Arabic tweets referring to ISIS and classified them as pro-ISIS or anti-ISIS. We then analyzed the historical timelines of both user groups and looked at their pre-ISIS period to gain insights into the antecedents of support. Also, we built a classifier to ‘predict’, in retrospect, who will support or oppose the group. We show that ISIS supporters largely differ from ISIS opposition in that the former referred a lot more to Arab Spring uprisings that failed than the latter.

Author Biography

Walid Magdy, Qatar Computing Research Institute

Scientist at the Qatar Computing Research Institute. His research interest is in information retrieval, social computing, and data science in general. He received his PhD from Dublin City University in Ireland. Before his PhD, he worked at IBM then Microsoft as a research Engineer. Walid has over 50 peer-reviewed publications and nine patents.




How to Cite

Magdy, W., Darwish, K., & Weber, I. (2016). #FailedRevolutions: Using Twitter to study the antecedents of ISIS support. First Monday, 21(2). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v21i2.6372