Via Spencer Ackerman, the US government has an exciting new counterterrorism strategy:
“The program, called Viral Peace, seeks to occupy the virtual space that extremists fill, one thread or Twitter exchange at a time. Shahed Amanullah, a senior technology adviser to the State Department and Viral Peace’s creator, tells Danger Room he wants to use “logic, humor, satire, [and] religious arguments, not just to confront [extremists], but to undermine and demoralize them.” Think of it as strategic trolling, in pursuit of geopolitical pwnage.”
Given that we now live in a world where it seems totally normal for a national army’s spokesman and a major terrorist group to get in a 140-character slap fight on Twitter, this initiative seems timely.
However, as Ackerman reports, the project is still very much in its infancy, and has hit some snags in its efforts to develop a trolling strategy (or strategies) through meetings with young social media users in Muslim countries. Apparently, young, politically-engaged Muslims are more interested in talking about how to remedy societal inequalities and injustices than in plotting how to pwn terrorists on the interwebs. It’s like they don’t even understand how awesome it is to post “FIRST!!1!” to a comment thread.