The Islamic State (IS) has been engaging in a focused social media propaganda campaign which uses “trendy” tactics similar to those of popular media cites such as BuzzFeed to brainwash at-risk youth or potential sympathizers. However, although many government officials put the pressure on Facebook and Twitter to wipe out IS accounts and therefore halt their effectiveness, the solution is not that simple. By nature social media is global and relies on self policing. Additionally, it is very easy to open a new account if your previous one gets banned for whatever reason. Even with these difficulties, Facebook has been praised for being the most efficient social media platform when it comes to removing IS-related propaganda.
The IS is getting more and more creative with its social media targeting campaign, and if simply removing the content from the web is not sufficient the responders to this threat have no choice but to get creative themselves. The Bigh Daddy show, launched July 7th, is an example of such creativity. It is a collection of short cartoon videos which primary aim is to counter the extremist narrative by satirizing IS and its ideology. Here is the introductory video which both introduces and antagonizes the various actors present in the current IS narrative:
The project has been widely popular in the Middle East with each video receiving around 1 million views. However, the creators of the project, despite the popularity their work has garnered so far, choose to remain anonymous. The team has a policy in place, to start a dialogue with those whose comments most people would think should be removed altogether. However, according to them removing such violent comments only masks the problem, while engaging in a constructive dialogue about religion and/or the IS itself, can be more productive in the long run.
Fighting extremist narratives, which attract young people and engage them in violence, requires this type of simple, credible and innovative methods of alternative narratives. All other actions, such as military intervention and censorship simply treat the symptoms, without killing the disease.