The Australian Defence Force Appears To Be Using Twitter To Take On Terrorists

27/08/2015 12:41 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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The Australian Defence Force's latest tool in the fight against extremism has been revealed - in 140 characters or less.

Twitter account @Fight_DAESH was revealed this week. Using Prime Minister Tony Abbott's preferred name for the the Islamic State -- Daesh is claimed by some to be a derogatory nickname for the group -- the account proclaims its mission as "correcting false information disseminated on Twitter by DAESH and its sympathisers".

It asks its followers to use the hashtags #DAESHLies #DefeatDAESH and #NoToDAESH.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews and Vice Chief of the Australian Defence Force Ray Griggs have both linked to the account from their official Twitter accounts, seemingly confirming its authenticity.

@Fight_DAESH appears to be the opening salvo in the government's so-called social media war against terrorism. The 2015 Budget included $22 million to "combat terrorist propaganda and counter violent extremism" and "challenge terrorist organisations' lies and propaganda online." The Twitter account is believed to be the first time the Department of Defence has used social media in this way.

But what is the account up to? How will they "correct false information"?

Tweets

As of Thursday morning, @Fight_DAESH had posted five tweets. Three have accused the same user, @Battar_21, of spreading "#DAESHLies" about military operations in in Iraq. One tweet attempts to discredit a video claiming to show the deaths of American soldiers in a campaign called Operation Inherent Resolve, which has launched "targeted operations against ISIL terrorists."

It is unclear why @Fight_DAESH has kicked off its account by attempting to discredit @Battar_21. At time of writing, the user had only 144 followers and 109 tweets. @Battar_21's first tweet only came on August 23, just one day before @Fight_DAESH posted its own first tweet. It is also unclear if @Battar_21 has any links to Australia.

Follows

@Fight_DAESH only follows four people: Brett McGurk, Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL; the "Official Twitter account of the International Coalition for Operation Inherent Resolve"; Think Again Turn Away, a US Department of State account claiming to tell "some truths about terrorism" (and perhaps inspiration for @Fight_DAESH); and the Sawab Centre, whose tagline is "United Against Extremism" and a joint initiative by the United Arab Emirates and the United States in support of the Global Coalition against DAESH.

fight_daesh

Logo

It's a bizarre profile image for the account; a slightly reimagined Twitter bird icon, coloured in khaki, with a rifle target and Arabic text superimposed on top.

daesh

The response

Huffington Post Australia has contacted the Australian Defence Force to confirm the authenticity of the account, as well as submitting a number of questions about the ADF's plans for using social media to counter extremism.

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