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Bullets and grenades are stepping down from the battlefield, as social media is paving its path into the war between the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, better known as ISIS, and the United States.

The United States decided to enter this social media war after ISIS began utilizing social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, in order to recruit potential extremists within the states.

The Department of State immediately responded to ISIS’s social media attacks by creating a twitter account called “Think Again, Turn Away”, @ThinkAgain_DOS, with the goal of attacking the social media presence of ISIS and other terrorist organizations.  The D.O.S also created a Facebook page, directly stating that its sole purpose is “to expose the facts about terrorists and their propaganda”.

Alongside the D.O.S, Facebook and Twitter have attempted to diminish ISIS’s attempt at increasing their social presence, particularly after one ISIS associated account posted a video of captured British hostage, John Cantile. Facebook and Twitter’s attempt to suspend the accounts of ISIS associated accounts, however, have remained futile, as a never ending process of removing and creating new accounts occurs.

Like everyday teenagers, ISIS’s digital operatives, too, have become proficient in social media, and thus, have learned the knicks-and-knacks Facebook and Twitter. For example, ISIS leveraged the power of hashtags, by posting their content with a current top trending hashtag. While the 2014 World Cup was playing, ISIS was simultaneously utilizing #WorldCup2014 in order to flood twitter traffic with its disturbing and adverse opinions.

Personally, I always knew that social media had the ability to be utilized as a weapon to attack people’s self esteem and belittle them, but I never imagined it becoming so large scale. Stories of bullies utilizing Facebook as a means to attacks their victims always circulated around the hallways of school, but I never knew that terrorist organizations would begin to leverage this same power worldwide. It is frightening to know that ISIS has the ability to reach my younger sister through Facebook or Twitter, with just the simple click of a finger.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Duncan Hull.

With Facebook and Twitter users increasing day by day, ISIS will be able to reach people of all ages. In fact, a young boy from the states recently asked a Muslim child if he was planning on joining the terrorist organization. This perfectly shows that although social media has allowed for information to become more widespread, it has simultaneously endangered the mindsets of many people around the world. As active Facebookers and Tweeters, we must be wary of the negative aspects of our favorite pastime, so that these detrimental opinions do not infiltrate and influence the minds of today’s generation.

For additional information, please refer to MSNBC’s article: More than airstrikes: the social media war against ISIS.

Featured Image courtesy of Flickr user The US Army.

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