How successful is the Islamic State’s online strategy? To what extent does the organization achieve its goals of attracting a global audience, broadcasting its military successes, and marketing the Caliphate? Using Twitter and YouTube search data, collected throughout 2015 and early 2016, we assess how suspected ISIS accounts, sympathizers, and opponents behave across two social media platforms, offering key insights into the successes and limitations of ISIS’s information warfare strategy. Analyzing the tweet content and metadata from 16,364 suspected ISIS accounts, we find that a core network of ISIS Twitter users are producing linguistically diverse narratives, touting battlefield victories and depicting utopian life in the Caliphate. Furthermore, a dataset of over 70 million tweets, as well as analysis YouTube search data, indicates that although pro-ISIS content spreads globally and remains on message, it is far less prolific than anti-ISIS content. However, this anti-ISIS content is not necessarily anti-extremist or aligned with Western policy goals.
- Islamic State
- Social media
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Linguistics and Language