Malcolm Turnbull Wants You To Mock ISIS Online

19/01/2016 8:39 AM AEDT | Updated July 15, 2016 12:51
Fairfax Media

Bring out your memes -- Malcolm Turnbull wants them all in the war on terror.

Fire up your Photoshop, flex your tweeting fingers -- the Prime Minister needs YOU.

The PM is in Washington, on his first visit to the United States since taking the top job, and gave a speech to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday morning (AEDT).

In a wide-ranging speech on global security and terrorism -- touching on the Australia-U.S. alliance, conflict and peace-building in the Middle East, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the contested South China Sea -- Turnbull said a key to fighting terrorist propaganda was to contradict, mock and disprove online claims.

"It's clear to me from my recent visit that the Iraqi Government, and other anti-ISIL forces, are not reacting quickly enough to contradict ISIL's online messages, which have been used both to recruit new fighters and demoralise those who oppose them and we should help them with this," Turnbull told the packed room.

"ISIL claims must be mocked and disproved as soon as they are made. The cyber sphere demands reactions as rapid as the kinetic battlefield."

In short -- the free world needs your memes.

The PM's call brings to mind the controversial @Fight_DAESH Twitter account operated by the Australian Defence Force. The account, launched in August 2015, claimed to "[correct] false information disseminated on Twitter by DAESH and its sympathisers."

The 2015 Budget included $22 million to "combat terrorist propaganda and counter violent extremism" and "challenge terrorist organisations' lies and propaganda online".

@Fight_DAESH was believed to be the first time the Department of Defence used social media in this way, but we may be in for more of the same, judging from Turnbull's strong words on the topic.

Elsewhere in the speech, Turnbull urged the U.S. to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying that advancing free trade was a boost to security.

"We have championed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and we urge your Congress to do so too. And we have signed or are working towards free-trade agreements with all of the largest economies in the region. Free trade is not just good for jobs. It's good for security," he said.

"The more we trade, the more we rely on each other, the more our supply chain stretches across countries and borders, the more there is to lose by disturbance in the security and order on which our prosperity is founded."

Turnbull also touched on the contentious South China Sea, where several competing actors are laying claims of sovereignty to different parts of the area, thought to be rich in gas and oil deposits. Nations including China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand all hold some claim to parts of the region, which is feared might become a geopolitical hotbed in coming years.

"Australia has no claims in the South China Sea, nor do we make any judgment on the legitimacy of any of the competing claims. We urge all parties, not just China, to refrain from further construction on those islands or reefs, and to refrain from their militarisation," Turnbull said.

"We do so because unilateral actions are in nobody's interest. They are a threat to the peace and good order of the region which the economic growth and national security of all our neighbours depend. These differences should be resolved by international law."

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