Ironic – How Western world media and tech benefit Islamic State


Whatsapp, Facebook, Youtube, Video games – All products of our Western society which are ironically used by Islamic State (IS) for their modern warfare. In 2014 IS recruited around 3400 potential terrorists per month with their successful media campaign (Business Insider, 2014). Geopolitical conflicts in the Middle-East have been going on for ages but IS’s media use is something new.

The last striking recruitment campaign developed by IS was the use of the popular video game ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ to show how ‘cool’ it is so fight alongside IS fighters. Videos of the game were released in which IS fighters bombed military trucks and shot their rivals. Those videos were shared using Whatsapp, Telegram, Youtube etc. (The Guardian, 2014)

Why is this ‘marketing campaign’ not disrupted by taking down their accounts and websites? According to Business Insider there are two reasons for this. The first one being that IS does not only recruit via these technologies and accounts but also coordinates their operations. US intelligence services need the information spread through these channels to be up to speed on what IS’s plans are and disrupt the physical operations.

The second reason IS is still able to recruit and communicate via social media is the increased difficulty for governments to shut down accounts and decode messages. After the revelations of Edward Snowden many of the tech-giants devised better encryption services in order to make monitoring of messages, emails, passwords etc. by US and British spies harder (DailyMail, 2015). New messaging apps like Wickr and Telegram even claim to offer encryption that cannot be decoded by government officials, making it even easier for IS to communicate and recruit.

As a result IS is still able to recruit today and through the development of new encryption apps private communication just got a whole lot easier.

How do you think this issue will develop in the future? Will IS only get stronger through the development of better encryption nowadays or will governments like the US government be able to disrupt IS’s online strategy?

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One response to “Ironic – How Western world media and tech benefit Islamic State”

  1. 360107kf says :

    You can see that Social Media has developed rapidly the last decade, but also that is being used for many different purposes. From the business purposes (e.g. marketing and PR) to, what you described, propaganda. During the Arabic Spring, you saw that Social Media was being used to update everybody about what was going on instead of getting the news via official channels.

    As you mentioned, it is very hard to disrupt these kind of online strategies as Social Media is open for everybody. Unless we want to become like China (blocking Google and Social Media), I don’t think it would be possible to disrupt. The only thing the government could do is getting better at filtering these account/ social media posts.

    Furthermore, the government will eventually find a way to encrypt the messages that are being sent via these tech-giants. But after they found out that the government can encrypt these messages, they will encrypt it differently again. So it is an never ending battle.

    http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2015/07/23/west-cant-ignore-islamic-state-social-media-war

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