The Islamic State's Battle for the Global Twittersphere

July 27, 2015  ·   Report

Although ISIS continues to spread its message through social media, our data suggests that pro-ISIS communication is met by a much larger amount of anti-ISIS content.

An Islamic State fighter in Iraq.

Credit: Wilson Center


While anti-ISIS content is quite diverse, observing the structure and content of organically generated anti-ISIS Twitter networks may provide key insights for dampening ISIS’ success in its ongoing battle for the global Twittersphere. To better understand this, we collect over 28 million tweets that reference ISIS positively, negatively, or neutrally between February and July 2015 and observe the fluctuations in ISIS-related tweet volume, language, location, and content. By doing so, we gain an understanding about the online impact of ISIS’s actions and its social media strategy.

While ISIS continues to successfully recruit supporters and spread its message through social media, our dataset suggests that pro-ISIS online communication in response to violent videos, terrorist attacks, or events on the ground may be met by a much larger groundswell of anti-ISIS content.