The advance of an army used to be marked by war drums. Now it’s marked by volleys of tweets.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Sunni militant group that seized Iraq’s second-largest city last week and is now pledging to take Baghdad, has honed this new technique—most recently posting photos on Twitter of an alleged mass killing of Iraqi soldiers. But what’s often overlooked in press coverage is that ISIS doesn’t just have strong, organic support online. It also employs social-media strategies that inflate and control its message. Extremists of all stripes are increasingly using social media to recruit, radicalize and raise funds, and ISIS is one of the most adept practitioners of this approach.
One of ISIS's more successful ventures is an Arabic-language Twitter app called The Dawn of Glad Tidings, or just Dawn. The app, an official ISIS product promoted by its top users, is advertised as a way to keep up on the latest news about the jihadi group.
Hundreds of users have signed up for the app on the web or on their Android phones through the Google Play store...Sure, they want to turn back the clock to the 7th Century, but that doesn't mean they're averse to using the latest gadgetry to do it.