Research Talk – Stuart Macdonald

The Center for Information Technology and Society at UC Santa Barbara is pleased to invite you to attend a research talk by Stuart Macdonoald, a Fullbright Visiting Fellow at the Orfalea Center, and Professor of Law and Criminology at Swansea University, U.K. This event is co-sponsored by the Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies.

An Examination of the Dissemination of, and Engagment with, Islamic State’s Dabiq Magazine on Twitter

On 31 July 2016 so-called Islamic State (IS) released issue 15 of their online English-language magazine Dabiq. In the 24 days that followed a total of 11,586 distinct accounts posted tweets/retweets mentioning the new issue. Using a bespoke platform, the researchers collected details of all these accounts (e.g., profile text, date account was created, language in which it was registered), as well as the first tweet each account posted that mentioned Dabiq issue 15 (including whether it was a plain tweet, directed tweet or retweet, and whether it contained an external link). This presentation will focus on two sets of findings. First, it will examine the 573 accounts that were suspended during the data collection period. It will be shown that the vast majority of these accounts were set up shortly before the new issue’s release and expressed support for either Dabiq or IS more generally. Second, it will examine the 3,271 accounts whose first post contained original content (i.e., was not merely a retweet). Whilst the predominant tone was critical, many of these tweets (n=1621) contained external links, either to the magazine itself or to news items covering its release. Putting these two sets of findings together, it will be concluded that the primary effect of efforts to disrupt IS propaganda on Twitter is not to suppress such content, but to shape the conversation.

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Ben Smith
Ben Smith
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