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Digital Media

Transformations in Human Communication

Edited By Paul Messaris and Lee Humphreys

The age of digital media has given rise to a new social world. It is a world in which the transmission of information from the few to the many is steadily being supplanted by the multi-directional flow of facts, lies, and ideas. It is a world in which hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily depositing large amounts of personal details in publicly accessible databases. It is a world in which interpersonal relationships are increasingly being conducted in the virtual sphere. Above all, this is a world that seems to be veering off in unpredictable ways from the trends of the immediate past. This book is a probing examination of that world, and of the changes that it has ushered into our lives.

In more than thirty essays by a wide range of scholars, this must-have second edition examines the impact of digital media in six areas – information, persuasion, community, gender and sexuality, surveillance and privacy, and cross-cultural communication – and offers an invaluable guide for students and scholars alike. With one exception, all essays are completely new or revised for this volume.

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Chapter 30: Propaganda and Persuasion Tactics Used in Islamic State’s Social Media (Jennarose Placitella)


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Propaganda and Persuasion Tactics Used in Islamic State’s Social Media

Jennarose Placitella


The news media, governments across the world, and the international public are aghast by the rise of a terrorist organization more extreme, more powerful, and better organized than any the modern world has yet encountered. The group ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (who now exclusively self-identify as the Islamic State, but are known most commonly as ISIS around the world), has gained operating control over large portions of Iraq and Syria, has quickly gained significant membership, and is wielding considerable influence. Many would argue that the group’s ability to adapt to the modern world through its manipulation of new technology, in particular its “adept use of social media” and the Internet, has increased its overall authority and power (Tadjdeh, 2014, para. 6). ISIL largely circumvents traditional mass mediums and broadcasts its messages straight to the public through Twitter, YouTube, Vine, and other digital outlets. The group managed to consolidate under an official brand and logo, contains several different media production units focused on diverse messaging, organized hashtag campaigns to generate Internet traffic, hijacked trending topics like the #WorldCup (Bartlett, 2014, para. 3) and, perhaps most notably, released a multitude of influential propaganda videos to the public online.

To understand more fully the tactics, strategy, and capability of this organization, a study was conducted using a textual analysis...

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