Using Social Media to Starve ISIS

Victory against ISIS needs to come by “starving” it of recruits, instead of simply killing or messaging it into defeat, the State Department’s global engagement leader said Thursday. Michael Lumpkin, special envoy and coordinator of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, said the coalition targeting ISIS is “not going to kill our way to victory” or “message our way to victory either.” ISIS has 12,000 members worldwide, and a global population of seven billion people should be able to counteract their influence, Lumpkin said Thursday at the Defense One Summit in Washington, D.C. The Global Engagement Center believes social media is a crucial tool in preventing vulnerable populations around the world from succumbing to the pull of radicalism. Lumpkin and his team leverage “a very good working relationship” with social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to identify global audiences they want to influence. The Department of State’s main social media strategy, Lumpkin said, is to disguise its messaging by seeking to distribute anti-radical ideas through existing networks. He gave the example of supporting a disc jockey who has influence among a target audience in order to combat the successful social media messaging of groups like ISIS. (See also: A Worthy Cyber Adversary)