I’m pleased to see the Obama administration make an effort to revamp and expand the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications as digital propaganda becomes more potent [“Hostage’s parents launch social-media bid to free son held in Syria,” Nation & World, Feb. 5]. However, I’m disappointed at the lack of initiative to do so sooner, as I know that the United States could have more efficiently fought the extreme influence of social media 90,000 tweets ago.
The Islamic State has been effective in using social media as a way to employ brand ambassadors — the 27,000 Twitter accounts that support the Islamic State and are not officially run by the group. They’ve spread messages to create terror among Western audiences, while recruiting more followers via tweets aimed at the Muslim world.
Because social media shifts the balance away from government and toward the favor of loosely organized groups, the United States needs to rely on its supporters to spread its message. One in 10 Americans are active on Twitter, so rather than independently targeting Islamic State links, the center should focus on amplifying messages relevant to the U.S. population that emphasize our presence on the digital battlefield.
We’re currently beat on volume, but we can counter extremist narratives by creating narratives of our own.
Lindsey Habenicht, Seattle