While ISIS wages its ugly and violent campaign in Iraq, a separate — but equally brutal — campaign is playing out on social media.
The Islamist militant group released gruesome photos and videos over the weekend it said offered proof it mercilessly slaughtered 1,700 Iraqi troops — evidence, analysts say, of the group's sophisticated social media campaign. (Via JustPaste.it / Twitter / @w_salahadden)
SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: "This is an effort to demonstrate how dangerous these organizations are, at least in their own view, but it's a way to get the message out about who they are, what their goals are." (Via CNN)
Take Somali militant group Al-Shabab. Last September, it live-tweeted its deadly siege of Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall. (Via CCTV)
So in many ways, ISIS advances its cause on social media the way many other extremist groups do. But its online presence differs in one key way. (Via YouTube / Nasrun min Allah)
NBC explains, "What sets ISIS apart is the volume of media they release on both private and public networks like Twitter and YouTube — and the relentlessly graphic nature of the images."
Vox says this isn't just about bragging. The purpose of posting these images is twofold: intimidating the local population with gruesome images while also winning over supporters by showing how brutal ISIS can be.
Its choice of platform is worth noting. Sky News reports terrorist groups have long relied on YouTube to get their message out. But increasingly, groups like ISIS are turning to social services like Kik and Ask.fm to better engage with their supporters.
ISIS now even has its own app for Android phones. Called Dawn of Glad Tidings, it's a way for supporters to get news about ISIS. But it also serves another, more beneficial purpose for the group. (Via Google Play)
Users who sign up give the group permission to send tweets through their accounts at regular intervals — resulting in the high volume of ISIS-related tweeting seen over the weekend, as Al-Qaeda expert J.M. Berger explains. (Via Twitter / @intelwire)
Berger writes in The Atlantic while ISIS does have support online, it's probably not as much as it would seem. "It owes a lot of that support to a calculated campaign that would put American social-media-marketing gurus to shame."