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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.

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