November 03, 2017

Sandcrawler PSA: Why We Won't Talk About Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov Anymore

When things are going right, don't mess it up.

So what’s to be done? In fact, quite a lot has changed since IS’s social media heyday in 2014 and 2015.

Supply-side or ‘field’ factors are impacting on the volume and frequency of IS’s contemporary content production and uploading. These include increased pressure on IS’s territory and manpower and direct targeting by Western forces of IS’ social media ‘experts’ and strategists (e.g. the August 2016 drone killing of IS’s second-in-command, Syrian-born Abu Muhammad al Adnani and, in September, their ‘Minister of Information’ Wa’il al-Fayad) and their cyber apparatus.

IS and its supporters also face increased vigilance on the part of social media and other Internet companies as regards IS’s use of their platforms. It was estimated that there were in the region of 46,000–90,000 pro-IS Twitter accounts active in the period between September to December 2014, but in recently published research, colleagues and I located fewer than a thousand pro-IS Twitter accounts with at least one follower between February and April 2017.

Explicitly pro-IS accounts, such as those using an image of a prominent IS figure (e.g. the so-called ‘caliph,’ al-Baghdadi) for their profile picture or bearing similarities to previously suspended accounts, can today be exceedingly short-lived, we found – often lasting only hours and some just minutes. The upshot of these levels of disruption is that the median number of followers for contemporary Pro-IS accounts is 14 versus 177 in 2014, a decrease of 92 per cent. IS’s previously strong and vibrant Twitter community is therefore now virtually non-existent.

But in the general trend, ISIS and by extension radical Islamic Terror is seen more and more as a loser, a dead end. This is good, no need to help ISIS break that perception by talking up their murders. Or random acts that they claim are theirs.

That's not to take away from the gravity of what happened to the victims, here for the most part as guests. I feel bad, I apologize.

But the media doesn't seem to get this. Talking up the attack and at the same time rattling their backlash-o-phobia cage. Very counter productive.

This might be a time where a little bit jaded is the best strategy.

By Howie at 12:14 PM | Comments |