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September 1, 2014

The US is taking on ISIS in a Twitter battle

Graphic images of violence used in social media propaganda campaign.

By Jimmy Nicholls

US security forces are battling the Islamic State (IS) through a propaganda campaign conducted through Twitter and Facebook.

Under the ‘Think Again Turn Away’ campaign graphic images of acts allegedly perpetrated by the group formerly styling itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) are used to discourage those thinking of joining the Islamic militants.

Speaking to the newswire Agence France-Presse, a US State Department official said: "People exaggerate, people think this is worthless or they think it a magic thing that will make the extremists surrender.

"It is neither one of those. It is slow, steady, daily engagement pushing back on a daily basis."

Islamic militants have long been using social media to spread their messages to those in the West, infamously spreading a video of US journalist James Foley being decapitated a fortnight ago.

Following the killing of Foley two weeks ago the US government stepped up its efforts, using their accounts to spread tributes to the reporter and sympathetic opinion pieces.

In typical internet fashion the accounts are also being used to mock and insult the Islamic militants, though the department maintains that it is respectful to the loss of human life.

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"Twitter is unfortunately or fortunately a platform which is suitable for what we call snark, sarcasm, for insulting people," the official added. "This is something also we are trying to do, we try to attack."

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