Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

How ISIS Wins At Twitter

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 17 2014

The ISIS flag. (Wikipedia)

These days everyone, even (or especially) vicious terrorists groups, is all about social media optimization.

Gilad Lotan wrote a piece earlier this month about the real world advantages of fake Twitter followers (for example, purchasing a crop of fake new followers earned him a higher Klout score which in turn boosted his placement in Bing search results). Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Barack Obama are just a few of the celebrities with artificially high followings. Even the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a famed Twitter-hater, has a Twitter bot army of at least 18,000. Yet with morbid ingeniousness, it seems the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has topped them all with an app called The Dawn of Glad Tidings.

The Dawn of Glad Tidings, or Dawn for short, is an official ISIS app billed as a way to keep up with the Sunni militant group. The kicker is that users give the app permission to post tweets. With real Twitter accounts posting the same material (automatically, but at different times to avoid being labeled as spam), ISIS can ensure that their links, hashtags and tweets go viral.

This is in addition to hashtag campaigns in which hundred or thousands of activists post under the same hashtag to make it trend.

"Big corporations wish they were as good at this as ISIS is," J.M. Berger, an author and social media analyst, told CBS News.

Berger wrote about the sophistication of ISIS's social media strategy for The Atlantic.

Yesterday Facebook, Twitter and YouTube users in Iraq reported the websites had been blocked by the Iraqi Minister of Communications, allegedly to prevent the spread of ISIS's graphic social media content.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

For a round-up of our weekly stories, subscribe to the WeGov mailing list.

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

GO

More