How the U.S. State Department Fights Terrorism on Twitter


Thu, Jul 24th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On Politico, a view of how the U.S. State Department has been taking on social media to "out-tweet" the terrorists. While the idea is good -- it "contest the space" that had "previously been conceded to the enemy" -- the tweets are delivered with a tone reminiscing of "Reagan-era 'Just Say No' commercials – only this time it is terrorism, not drugs, they’re trying to scare everyone away from."

In practice, this means that the center, with its $5 million budget, verbally jousts with jihadists on social media all day long. Not a bad idea, according to experts like McCants. The problem is that it appears to be losing—at least when it comes to showing the quick thinking and verbal dexterity that so characterizes the big winners in the social-media universe. In an arena in which people are largely inured to the frequent intrusions of advertising, the center is conducting itself like it’s the only propaganda operation in town.

The way the program works is fairly simple: The State Department’s analysts follow online chatter about the latest ISIL victory or news of a recent al-Shabaab massacre in Kenya, and then they try to insert themselves into the conversation. The idea is less to sway committed terrorists than to persuade fence-sitters not to join up or provide material support.

But State’s messages usually arrive with all the grace of someone’s dad showing up at a college party. The posts tend to be blunt, adversarial, and plagued by poor Photoshop work. Typically, “Think Again Turn Away,” as the CSCC’s English-language Twitter account calls itself, delivers hectoring messages written in the schoolmarmish tone of Reagan-era “Just Say No” commercials – only this time it is terrorism, not drugs, they’re trying to scare everyone away from.



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