White House to work with social media firms to battle ISIS online

23 Feb 2015

The US government is to work closely with social media firms to counter the online presence of extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS.

In a statement, the White House said it would be organising a number of ‘technology camps’ over the next few months, in which “social media companies will work with governments, civil society, and religious leaders to develop digital content that discredits violent extremist narratives and amplifies positive alternatives”.

In addition, the US will partner with the United Arab Emirates to establish a digital communications hub to counter ISIS’ propaganda and recruitment efforts.

According to New York Times reports, the Islamic State and its supporters are currently posting up to 90,000 tweets and other social media responses a day, which has moved Washington to take action on the digital battlefield.

“We’re getting beaten on volume, so the only way to compete is by aggregating, curating and amplifying existing content,” Richard A Stengel, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, told the newspaper.

The US plans to expand a small state department agency, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, to help co-ordinate the Pentagon, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies’ attempts at counter-messaging.

Last October, EU representatives met with some of the world’s largest tech companies to discuss how to counteract ISIS’ growing online presence.

Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Facebook all attended the dinner meeting in Luxembourg alongside delegates from the 28 EU member states. The focus of the meeting was to discuss challenges posed by terrorists’ use of the internet and possible responses, with particular regard to the development of specific counter-narrative initiatives.

White House image via Shutterstock

Dean Van Nguyen was a contributor to Silicon Republic