Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | War on Terrorism | Tech | firms | not | fighting | social

Twitter, Facebook, Google Absent in WH Messaging War Against ISIS

Image: Twitter, Facebook, Google Absent in WH Messaging War Against ISIS
Saudi Man on Social Media (Fayez Nueldine/AFP)

By    |   Wednesday, 12 Aug 2015 09:12 PM

America's tech giants have mostly ignored a White House call to help launch a "messaging war" against the social-media savvy Islamic State (ISIS), Politico reports.

At an antiterrorism summit
in February, the White House aimed to draw the tech industry into developing a digital pushback against ISIS, but Facebook, Google and Twitter have avoided involvement, Politico reports.

Twitter is an "open platform for free expression," Colin Crowell, Twitter’s public policy director, tells Politico. "What we don’t do is messaging strategy."

"The message that has the most resonance and the greatest integrity is the one that comes from the individuals and organizations [on the ground], not the message from Twitter Inc."

Politico reports the White House's failed effort only underscores how limited its online response to the Islamic extremists has been —  the biggest anti-ISIS vehicle is a State Department Twitter account urging people to "Think Again" about joining or supporting the militants.

The urgency hasn't been lost on the presidential campaign trail, Politico notes, with Jeb Bush warning on Tuesday that ISIS is using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to "add the veneer of glamour to their exploits."

"We need to work with the owners of these relevant companies to give careful thought on how we address this problem," he said, Politico reports.

At a conference in Sydney, Australia, last April —  which the State Department co-funded, Politico reports —  Google and Twitter sent representatives, though they didn't offer any anti-ISIS strategies, co-organizer Shahed Amanullah tells Politico.

"Expecting them to help produce content? No," Amanullah, a former State Department official, tells Politico. "Asking them to dive into conversations — that’s not their job, and they’re not even equipped for it."

Others tell Politico the government's effort to enlist help from Silicon Valley to battle Islamic extremists is not consistent.

"It ebbs and flows depending on the news of the day," Seamus Hughes, who recently stepped down as an official at the National Counterterrorism Center coordinating strategy on fighting violent extremism, tells Politico.

"The government feels overwhelmed by the number of ISIS supporters and they’re trying to wrap their arms around the sheer scale of it."

Still, one smaller tech firm —  Dublin-based Ask.fm, which Amanullah tells Politico is a "conduit for [ISIS] fanboys and cheerleaders" —  tells Politico they haven't even been approached by the government to help.

"We have not been invited to participate in enforcement or counter narrative programs or initiatives in the U.S," an Ask.fm spokesperson tells Politico. We would welcome it."

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America's tech giants have mostly ignored a White House call to help launch a messaging war against the social-media savvy Islamic State (ISIS), Politico reports. At an antiterrorism summit in February, the White House aimed to draw the tech industry into developing a...
Tech, firms, not, fighting, social, media, savvy, ISIS, online, Twitter, Facebook
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2015-12-12
Wednesday, 12 Aug 2015 09:12 PM
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