Giulia Lina Callegari and Alexander Hanson-Smithon 31 March, 2015
“Why did you murder my friends Orit Ozarov and Livnat Dvash and 9 other innocent Israelis at the Moment Cafe on March 9th, 2002?”
This was just one question among many that was put to Palestinian Islamist Movement Hamas during the calamitous twitter campaign #AskHamas. The campaign was aimed at bolstering support in the West by constructing a forum through which Hamas leaders could directly answer questions on a global stage.
Using social as a medium to convey transparency can work; however, as Hamas discovered, the same can’t be said for a fundamental religious group who has been carrying out terrorist attacks since 1993.
The hashtag generated over 30,000 tweets in 3 hours and bolstered the groups Twitter following to 4.5 million.
However, most of the 30,000 responses were mocking the Islamic group that rules Gaza, begging the question, is any press really good press? [TWEET THAT]
The campaign was intended to “send a message to the European public that Hamas is not a terrorist movement, but a nationalist liberation movement.” In reality, all it did was to give the Gaza conflict another digital forum.
Terrorist organisations using digital platforms have gained traction lately, leading to stricter content control. Facebook recently announced it’s more rigorous content policy, with Global Head of Content Policy Monika Bicket stating, “we now make it clear that not only do we not allow terrorist organisations or their members within the Facebook community, but we also don’t permit praise or support for terror groups or their acts or their leaders, which wasn’t something that was detailed before.”
The irony is that the KPIs for an effective social media campaign are the same for both a brand and a terrorist organisation: both are selling an idea, leveraging engaging content and fostering a conversation with their customer base.
It is a certainty that over the next decade we will see extremist organistaions refining their approach to digital.
A terrifying prospect indeed.