While the Obama Administration has made much of its own anti-ISIS propaganda efforts aimed at getting their own narrative on social media, the focus of their campaign to reduce ISIS’ own level of influence on sites like Twitter has ultimately boiled down to killing those social media “experts” in ISIS.
The FBI made a bigger effort of identifying and tracking the most influential pro-ISIS Twitter users, and across Iraq and Syria those users were one by one targeted in drone strikes and assassinated, with officials saying that many of the “top” users have been taken out now.
The other half of the effort is to track the people that the FBI believes were “radicalized” by reading those tweets, arresting nearly 100 people they say were “connected” with the slain Twitter users over the past couple of years.
Though the formal narrative is that these people are dangerous “online recruiters” who are fueling the ISIS war, what isn’t clear at all is if the killing of these users is significantly reducing ISIS’ footprint on social media. This is particularly true because officials pushed Twitter to ban a number of ISIS accounts concurrent with this program, so even if there is a near-term reduction, it is impossible to conclude it is the result of the drone strikes and not simply the group still trying to find ways to circumvent the bannings.