Sunday, January 17, 2016

Quotable: David DeVoss on ISIS social media

Saturday, January 16th 2016
Today, thousands of jihadists prowl the web promoting their brand of Salafist Islam while trying to persuade young Muslims to travel to Syria and Iraq,” wrote David DeVoss in an article, “Meme Wars,” in the January 18, 2016, issue of The Weekly StandardThe editor and senior correspondent at East-West News Service discussed the role of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter,, Tumblr, WhatsApp, Kik, Paltalk, and Telegram, Tails, and TOR in “an online battle for Muslim hearts and minds.”

  • . . . ISIS supporters operate between 46,000 and 70,000 Twitter accounts, with an average of 1,000 followers each—far higher than the typical average of around 200 followers. Several security companies believe ISIS sends out more than 90,000 messages a day.

  • About 20 percent of terrorist messaging is in English, the language used by Huda Muthawny, an Alabama woman who targets Muslim girls in the United States with the message that the "caliphate" is a utopian state where they will find status and belonging.

  • ISIS YouTube videos are horrific, but its messaging on Facebook and Instagram is weirdly compelling. Steely-eyed soldiers in tailored fatigues almost look daring as they vow to accept martyrdom.

  • By contrast, Washington's counterterrorism program called "Think Again, Turn Away" features blurry photos, jumbled typefaces, and inept prose.

  • "I know something about memes," Cory Booker (D-N.J.) sputtered at a meeting last summer of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "Look at their fancy memes compared to what we're not doing."

  • In a rare show of bipartisanship, committee chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was in full agreement on ISIS messaging. "We invented the social network sites," he said. "We've got Hollywood. We've got the capabilities to blow these guys out of the water from the standpoint of communications."

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