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ISIS is waging a terrifying web propaganda war

ISIS is waging a terrifying web propaganda war


The militants' social media savvy may be inflating the group's numbers and intimidating Iraqi soldiers

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As Iraq is roiled by militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), eyes have fallen on the terrorist group's propaganda network, a dark corner of the web that the militants hope to exploit for recruitment and intimidation.

Another video shows insurgents machine-gunning Iraqi vehicles

A new report in The Guardian highlights the militants' internet savvy. There is a YouTube film series from ISIS called The Clanging of the Swords, the latest entry of which includes drone footage and apparently real rocket launches. Another video shows insurgents machine-gunning Iraqi vehicles.

But maybe more crucial to ISIS's takeover of the country — it's now sanctioned off large swaths of territory — are the group's social media tactics, which may have artificially inflated their numbers before strikes. The in-house app The Dawn of Glad Tidings, when downloaded, automatically posts updates on ISIS from the user's personal Twitter account, resulting in a stream of violent images and videos when searching for the group online. One, a picture of a bloodied gun posted to Instagram, includes the text, "YODO. You only die once. Why not make it martyrdom[?]"

The result is pervasive propaganda. ISIS Photophopped an image of a militant in Baghdad with the words "Baghdad, we are coming," while fears of an attack on the nation's capital were high. As The Atlantic noted at the time, it was impossible to search "Baghdad" on Twitter without the image appearing in the stream. Anecdotally, at least, as reports of fleeing Iraqi soldiers come in, the strategy may be having an effect.