Defence is fighting ISIS online, but we don’t know it works

Australia has taken to Twitter to counter Islamic State narratives. Though its approach — focusing on the facts — builds on previous failures, it’s difficult to know what works.

The Australian Defence Force’s latest initiative in the war on the Islamic State, a Twitter account disputing “Daesh lies”, builds on lessons from the problems encountered by earlier attempts at countering IS propaganda — but nobody really knows if it will work.

The @fight_DAESH account, which became the object of unwanted attention when one of its operators contacted a Buzzfeed journalist via private message, aims to disprove incorrect claims made by IS sympathisers online.

Is it all just a show to make the government look tough? A madcap experiment bound to fail? Well, no — but there are still plenty of uncertainties surrounding such an approach.

@fight_DAESH will not enter into debate with individual IS accounts, according to Defence — an strategy undertaken by a previous iteration of the American State Department’s Think Again, Turn Away program.

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.