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2015-12_dc

D+C  e-Paper  December 2015 37 main propaganda arm and spreads the message of the self-proclaimed “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Khilafa. Other channels include I’tisaam Media, Al Hayat Media Center and AJND Media. Moreover, ISIS collaborates with others outside its net- work, such as Albatar Media, al-Khilafa Media, Albayan Radio and al-Khalifa TV. Like a news organisation, ISIS fol- lows a clear and flexible media strategy designed to secure market shares. Its strat- egy is successful thanks to the use of lan- guage, content and outreach tactics that engage and attract new followers. Social media are key, since they facilitate peer- to-peer propagation of ISIS messages. ISIS media ideologues have clearly embraced the concept of brand marketing: messages are most effective when they are spread within a peer group, passed on by friends, followers and the like-minded. ISIS has understood the advantages of the “me-sphere” on the net. For a while, it used an Android app that allowed it to take control of subscribers’ Twitter accounts. That app has since been discontinued by Google and is no longer available. Self-proclaimed “cyber caliphs” run the ISIS propaganda machine. They are hackers who have shown off their skills in a number of attacks in recent years. In spring 2015, the ISIS cyber army blocked the French “TV5Monde” network, using its 11 channels to spread ISIS propaganda for several hours. For some time, the same “cyber caliphates” also seized control of Newsweek’s Twitter account and the You- Tube channel of the US military’s Central Command. The need for appealing counter-­ narratives If we want solutions, blocking the social media accounts of ISIS fighters and fol- lowers won’t do. In the best-case sce- nario, attempts to ban the ISIS narrative will only alleviate some symptoms; in the worst case, it will reinforce its power. The only effective solution is to tackle the narrative in the public sphere, using all the sophisticated methods at our dis- posal. Current events and the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing to Europe underscore how crucial it is to develop a response. If young migrants feel accepted and connected to the new soci- ety they now live in, the extremist narra- tive will fall on deaf ears. Just like building a house, it is essen- tial to have a solid foundation. Accord- ingly, we need to actively raise awareness in schools, associations and at universi- ties. Social integration is a priority, and not just in regard to new migrants and asylum seekers, but just as well to sec- ond and third generation immigrants and, more generally, anyone who is experienc- ing alienation and exclusion. Successful integration means creating real communi- ties to replace the virtual ones simulated by ISIS media campaigns. Practical, real- life experiences will always trump any uto- pian fantasy on the internet. The media need to step up. Public broadcasters can in fact learn from ISIS media strategists in terms of designing content that speaks to young users, offer- ing them a platform to voice concerns and ideas in their own language and sharing them on broadcast channels. Such a counter-strategy will be costly – both in time and money – and needs a long-term approach. German society will be taking a huge risk if we do not take action to counteract the extremists’ cam- paigns. Ute Schaeffer is the deputy director of Deutsche Welle Akademie. [email protected] Anti-ISIS protest in Indonesia. Irham/picture-alliance/dpa

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