​ADF to escalate social media war on Daesh

Australia’s defence force has indicated that it’s increasing its focus on social media strategies to tackle the Islamic fundamentalist forces of Deash.

Defence Minister Marise Payne today told a parliamentary committee that the ADF was already using twitter to monitor and respond to Daesh propaganda, and that social media was becoming increasingly central to Coalition Defence Force’s (CDF) non-military tactics to combat the group. She also said that the ADF would coordinate efforts with the CDF more closely.

“Its immediacy, its spread is something, which the coalition (defence forces) recognises – and the UK in particular are taking the lead on – that this is something we have to deal with. Now that’s separate from a military strategy per se but it’s a very important aspect in the campaign against Daesh,” Ms Payne said.

Daesh, also known as ISIL, had effectively used social media for recruitment and to encourage the group’s foreign sympathisers to carry out domestic terrorist attacks, Ms Payne said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull flagged the issue during a press conference in January.

“There is one element of our campaign that needs considerable improvement. ISIL may have an archaic and barbaric ideology but its use of technology and social media in particular is very sophisticated and agile. As ISIL uses social media for its propaganda we must respond rapidly and persuasively with the facts,” Mr Turnbull said at the time.

The ADF has traditionally had a difficult relationship with social media. A 396-page report on social media that the ADF commissioned in 2011 found that while it represented a threat to operational security it could also be used to bypass “media distortion” and be used in natural disasters.

The reports authors pointed to US Air Force policy, which encouraged airmen to use social media present their vocations and missions in a positive light.

Quoting from US Department of Defence policy documents the authors wrote:

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“The Air Force needs to turn all of its Airmen, and especially its front-line Public Affairs specialists, into communicators who combat the negative influence of enemy propaganda, misinformation and misrepresentation. We are training world-class Airmen to act as our communicators who can successfully wage an information media war against our detractors”.

On Tuesday, ASIO told another parliamentary committee that it was monitoring around Australian Passport holders they believed posed a threat to national security.


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