Anti-ISIS Twitter Account: Australian Defence Force Opens Up

28/08/2015 9:21 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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The Australian Defence Force has described its @Fight_DAESH anti-ISIS Twitter account as a counter-propaganda campaign, but said it won't be picking online fights with extremists "dominating" social media.

As The Huffington Post Australia outlined on Thursday, the ADF launched the account on August 24 and has started to address claims made online by alleged Islamic State sources.

In the first significant official statement on @Fight_DAESH, an ADF spokesperson told HuffPost Australia the account aimed to counter the "false narrative" presented by extremists, and claimed ISIS is "dominating social media with false information."

"Defence is conducting a social media activity on ‘Twitter’ that monitors, identifies and refutes false military claims made by Daesh," the spokesperson said in a statement.

(And yes, they did write 'Twitter' in quote marks.)

"The activity focuses on refuting Daesh propaganda that falsely claims operational success, falsely claims military and state-building capacity and distorts reality of military activities. The effort will also address any false claims made concerning ADF operations in Iraq."

The account @Fight_DAESH only follows four accounts online, including Think Again Turn Away -- a US Department of State account claiming to tell "some truths about terrorism" -- 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.

We guessed those two entities may have been inspiration for @Fight_DAESH, and the ADF spokesperson seemed to confirm this.

"This initiative has been developed and implemented in coordination with international partners and Australian Government agencies and is complementary to broader countering violent extremism initiatives," the spokesperson said.

"The false propaganda is analysed against other open source information using available online tools to identify specific falsehoods than can be addressed and the propaganda directly refuted. An example includes the misrepresenting old images or videos portrayed as current events or the selective use of information to create false perception."

The 2015 Budget included $22 million to "combat terrorist propaganda and counter violent extremism" and "challenge terrorist organisations' lies and propaganda online" -- however, the ADF said it "currently conducts this initiative within existing resources."

In response to questions around whether other social media channels would be utilised by the ADF for this purpose -- for instance, Facebook or Instagram -- the spokesperson said the ADF "identifies social media posts, currently on Twitter only."

And if you were expecting the Defence Force to engage in a Twitter war of words with alleged terrorist sympathisers, you'll be disappointed.

"@Fight_DAESH has not been designed to enter into debate with Daesh members or supporters. It simply highlights the falsehoods they are disseminating in order to discredit their message," the spokesperson said.

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