The virtual warfare: Terrorist successful propaganda on Youtube

War reporting is the practice of introducing, specifying and explaining the comprehensive relationships at the warfare. If before journalists had difficulties in fully covering wars, today the Internet allows its users to constantly and immediately contribute the content. War reporters, witnesses, politicians, terrorists, everybody can share information via social media. In the twenty-first century war is a term used not only for ground attacks between two or more sides but for a virtual conflict in the Internet.

Youtube is the social media where thousands of videos show terrorist attacks. The more you watch, the more you understand that social media instead of simplifying warfare, exacerbates the conflict. The fact that everyone can use Youtube without constraint speaks for a new controversial virtual environment where terrorists fight for their beliefs and goals, and journalists look for sensation. Hence, Youtube happens to be an unreliable source of information since videos can be used for preaching terrorist propaganda.

Media outlets transformed their war reporting into a spectacle of sensation and drama instead of pursuit of truth, warfare has become a perfect field for thrilling visual media deception. Martin Bell in his article “The death of news” expresses his regret on war reporting’s distortion and reinforces the opinion about misleading content in the Internet:  “It pains me to say so, but looking back on the record of the past half century I believe that for one reason and another the war reporters of my generation have failed in our most basic of tasks – to tell the truth about warfare.” The social perception of warfare is losing its chance to be accurate. Truth is underestimated not only by media, but by terrorist groups.

It is for that reason that the military force fighting today against a terrorist organization in defense of a democratic state is really fighting a two-front war. There is on the one hand the ground war, meaning the war that has to actually be won on the ground, the state of play on the ground as it exists in reality. But there is also the air war, meaning the war as it exists on the nation’s front pages and television screens. For a democracy, winning one and not the other will always mean losing, and losing in a very real sense, because the loss of public support means that the war will come to an end, period.

Youtube War (2009)

Cori Elizabeth Dauber 

Terrorism has no certain definition. For many it is a savage phenomenon that spreads hate and anger, for others it is an ideology that refuses to obey the social rules. Terrorism fights for its beliefs. There are three perspectives from which terrorism can be viewed: the terrorists, the victims and the public. The relationship between these three has become more complicated since the Internet was introduced. Nowadays society has new addiction. If before traditional media was the only source of information, today news and events are widespread through the Internet. The world is technologically evolved. Every citizen from a developed country has a smart phone with camera and mobile data everywhere, which lets him upload, share and discuss on the web. Society gathers together in the new virtual world where restrictions hardly exist. Now there are not only the traditional news providers, but social media. Online terrorism includes hacking government’s websites, stealing passwords, sending viruses and social media propaganda. Therefore, there are many ways for using the Internet as a weapon for rising terrorism.

Modern wars are won on television screens and Internet websites. These are the battlefields that really matter, the arenas that frame the war and the scoreboards that determine the losers and the winners.

Terror On The Internet (2006)

Gabriel Weimann 

After the Arab Spring that was called the social media revolution and the war in Iraq that, by the same token, was known as the Youtube war, social media has become one of the most successful weapons in armed conflicts. Just one click is needed to enter the brutal world of real life tragedy, bombs, deaths and raw scenes of bloodshed. Kaylan uses official YouTube figures to trace the simplicity and popularity in uploading devastating videos on the website. Terrorists widely share their vicious actions. They do not depend on traditional media to show the world their ruthlessness anymore. Hoffman (2006) emphasises on the idea that the Internet is the place where terrorism is growing its dominance. Terrorists are aware of the significance of the social media. Thus, YouTube is becoming more and more beneficial for the brutal organizations. The Economist on July 12th in 2007 summarised the upcoming situation: “This is the era not only of the citizen — journalist, but also the terrorist — journalist.”

Youtube is used as a weapon for terroristic propaganda and deceiving society. Terrorists  have their own channel where they can share all kind of sadism they have captured. Terrorists no longer depend on traditional media. In fact, the roles converted and it is true to argue that media outlets rely on the content in YouTube, uploaded by the terrorist groups. This is to say that inadequate perception of terrorism and war is shaped. Terrorists act for the camera. They know that they are stronger in the Internet than in reality. Thus, they are confident in sharing brutal videos showing their power and viciousness. They target the viewer aiming to scare, devastate and respect everyone, who is watching at home. Nowadays, terror is spread not only in the place where the war is happening but in the Internet where people are curious to understand the conflict. Terrorists take advantage of Youtube by having psychological impact on society.

What is really being targeted is those who are watching at home. The goal after all, is to have a psychological effect of some sort (to terrorize) and it is not possible to have such an effect on those who are already dead.

Youtube War (2009)

Cori Elizabeth Dauber 

Shelton published a compilation of the most striking false videos shared by terrorist groups. They successfully take advantage of the three perspectives of terrorism. Firstly, they show cruel executions and bomb explosions to scare citizens and foreigners. Secondly, videos are made as campaigns for winning more activists. Thirdly, fake attacks are performed in front of the camera to increase the public interest in the terrorist group. This is to say that terrorists are aware of the fact that their position in the real armed conflict is not as strong as the virtual image they are creating. Hence, in reality Youtube is the provocateur of bloodshed in Syria, Afghanistan and the rest Middle-East countries. Most of the scenes uploaded on YouTube are made exclusively for the media platform. This is the real brutality of terrorism today.

The most popular recent example of a terrorist organization is ISIL. Up to now ISIL has a successful social media campaign that support their image and frame the narrative. This campaign is a well developed strategy for gaining sympathy from ones or threatening others. In fact, ISIL strength in the real war is based on their various prosperous YouTube channels. Thomas Nissen explains the effective structure of ISIL’s social media propaganda. Videos show numerous attacks, explosions, personal terrorist’s stories. In reality rarely this short films expose actual events. However, Nissen outlines ISIL’s YouTube propaganda as an engine that moves the terrorist organisation forward in the real fight. As long as society believes them, ISIL remains dominant.

Armed conflicts have always been directly connected with national and international politics, economy and society. Terrorism is a rebellious occurrence in warfare. It is believed to be a brutal action against humanity. Media is crucial when representing wars. However, nowadays the Internet plays essential role in exposing armed conflicts and rising terrorism. Terrorists use social media, especially YouTube to obtain public interest. Technology innovation and the Internet let terrorists fight in a two-front war. Thus, their real power comes from the social media. They psychologically threaten the audience.

On the one hand, YouTube raises followers. On the other, the social medium creates a picture of a strong frightening group of people. Terrorists control the narrative. Since today even traditional media fails to present the reality of war, online terrorist propaganda is encouraged. Fake videos of cruelty or terrorist leaders’ monologs shape social perception that is almost never recognised as deception. YouTube is more powerful than the real guns and terrorists understand this. The virtual warfare is becoming more vicious. People are killed at the aim of YouTube sensation. Terrorism is constantly expanding while videos on Youtube showing executions win viewers and likes. Today one click is the cost that you pay to help international terror progress. Think.



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