I cannot believe I'm writing this right now, but, perhaps there's some good use for trolling after all? Stay with me here. Social media has given extremist groups like ISIS a major advantage when it comes to sharing their poisonous message with a global audience. Using social media, message boards, and really anything they can get their hands on, the extremist group has recruited thousands of people using the Internet, many of whom come from all over the globe, including the U.S. After deciding to fight ISIS's viral online recruitment efforts, the U.S. State Department is now trolling ISIS tweets to debunk some of their claims, and it might actually be working.
The Islamic State, using the Twitter handle @Dawla_accountt, has been tweeting anti-American and anti-Western propaganda in the form of text, photos, and videos. Many of these images and videos are disturbing in nature, in order to vilify the U.S. and convince others to join the fight against them. According to the Washington Post, The U.S. government employees who operate the “Think Again Turn Away” Twitter account (@ThinkAgain_DOS) log their hours by trolling ISIS accounts, poking holes in their arguments. This includes pointing out falsified images, logical fallacies, and generally ill-informed rhetoric.
Some people disagree with the state department's tactics, saying the replies are basically pouring fuel on the fire and give ISIS a sense of legitimacy. These critics believe ISIS' propaganda should not be dignified with a response, especially not one from a source as official the U.S. government.
On the one hand, these critics have a point. Maybe it is better for the government not to start a Twitter flame war with ISIS, because it's not really going to change their practices anyway, and its also giving them the pleasure of knowing they're getting under the U.S.'s skin. By reacting to their propaganda, the U.S. is giving them exactly what they want: power.
On the other hand, considering ISIL's propaganda is relatively well-written and well-fabricating, it has the power to influence people to join their ranks, including Americans. In order to reduce the number of people who try to run off to the Middle East to join them or start their own splinter groups of ISIS, perhaps the state department should be counteracting their efforts in an official capacity.
The whole issue is kind of murky, but, at the end of the day, any effort to stop the terror ISIS is inflicting on the world is probably a good one.