Hamas is barred from most social media platforms. But its following has surged on popular messaging app Telegram since its October 7 terror attack on Israel.
One account belonging to the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, has seen its following triple, and there has been a ten-fold increase in the number of views of videos and other content posted by the account.
Hamas is a designated foreign terror organization in the United States, and new internet laws in the European Union mean large social media platforms can face penalties for hosting terroristic content.
Meta and Google prohibit Hamas accounts, but Telegram, a company founded by a Russian-born entrepreneur which is now based in Dubai, has decided to allow the group to continue use its service.
X, formerly Twitter, says it also has a ban on Hamas and has removed “hundreds” of “Hamas-affiliated accounts.” Last week, however, the European Union announced it was opening an investigation into the company about disinformation and illegal content about the conflict on its platform.
Hamas’ growing audience
The Telegram channel for Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, had about 200,000 followers at the time of the attack. The channel’s following has since more than tripled, according to an analysis by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.