Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Information and Disinformation, ISIL and the US

An interesting piece by Landon Shroder, 'The Islamic State's Propaganda War: Advertisers and Marketers Weigh in on the World's Angriest Ad Campaign' Vice July 14th, 2015
how does IS sell their message? How does it get people from comfortable backgrounds in the US and Europe to give up everything and join a movement so infused with violence and brutality? The answer ultimately resides with the kinds of marketing strategies used by advertising agencies all over the world. In the most basic terms, IS is selling an idea the very same way a company would sell a product.
In this the readily identifiable visual message plays a part, as does the violence depicted in some of the propaganda videos:
The signature violence gives potential volunteers a sense of agency within a movement that appears unstoppable — invincible, even. For those who might feel marginalized in a world that appears constantly adversarial, this kind of symbolism remains a potent source of publicity for IS. "To many young men who feel like their current life is purposeless, this tells them that they can do something," Bedineishvili said. "They can be someone and play a meaningful role in a glamorized apocalyptic battle." IS more than delivers on these opportunities, which establishes legitimacy for potential volunteers and is essential to their brand loyalty. IS propaganda sources can then leverage these experiences by developing their own news and editorial content, some of which is as polished as anything one might find on BBC, CNN, or al-Jazeera.
The article briefly considers what can be done (note that it treats fighting ISIL as a task undertaken and only to be undertaken by the US rather than the states actually directly affected):
To combat the messages coming from IS, Major Geneva David, a spokesperson for CENTCOM, said that the truth is one of the best weapons. "Amplifying factual information regarding these areas is an important aspect of establishing a counter narrative to ISIL's propaganda and disinformation campaign," David told VICE News. But how the US hopes to gain legitimacy with this message remains to be seen. The US would be wise to understand the strategies used by IS and reacquaint itself with the art of modern propaganda. Far from being isolated occurrences, western citizens will continue to be recruited with greater frequency.
Our problem is, to what degree are all the mainstream media stories about ISIL (and only/predominantly ISIL) being involved in antiquities looting and site destruction and antiquities smuggling and trade, part of that 'amplification of the truth'?

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