Islamic State's media empire

Islamic State's media empire

There's a war being fought against Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East - but an equally important battle against the terrorist group is being waged online.

If it weren't for social media, IS might not have been so effective at recruiting its estimated 20,000 fighters from more than 50 countries.

A 2015 study found the group releases an average of 38 pieces of media per day, including high-definition videos filmed with drones, topped off with graphics to target digital native youngsters.

Twitter is a valuable platform due to its 320 million active users worldwide. Over the past year the social network has deleted 200,000 accounts linked to IS - but new ones pop up just as quickly.

Terrorism hasn't always been like this, says Otago University international relations expert Professor Robert Patman. Contrast al-Qaeda's post-9/11 propaganda videos - grainy, unedited pieces filmed in hiding.

They often featured Osama bin Laden clutching an AK-47 - his main purpose to boost the morale of his fighters and convince more people to sign up.

At its peak, Mr Patman says, al-Qaeda only reached a maximum of 3000 recruits.

But IS doesn't need its fighters to register. It's inspiring terrorist acts in other countries simply by radicalising followers with videos showing barbaric acts of violence. 

No terrorist organisation in history has launched as dynamic and effective an online operation as IS has, unfortunately making the possibility of stopping more attacks pretty remote.


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