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Terrorism Experts Gather to Discuss the Memes of War

Sen. Cory Booker says we’re spending too much money on old-school media.

Image via screencapture.

U.S. Senators convened for a Senate hearing on Thursday to discuss “Jihad 2.0: Social Media in the Next Evolution of Terrorist Recruitment” (or, alternatively titled, “How to Harness the Virality of Sick-Ass Memes to Fight Terrorism”). Resident Twitter expert, Sen Cory Booker (D-N.J.), addressed a team of national security and terrorism experts—who, by the way, spoke exclusively about Muslim terrorists, so we’re forced to assume that Muslims are the only terrorists worth fighting or holding a Senate hearing about—about the nature of terrorist messaging to young kids on social media and whether we can replicate the power of “fancy memes” for counter-terrorism messaging.

“The videos that they’re doing are incredibly slick, fancy and attractive,” said Booker, displaying a video on his iPad. “Here are a bunch of extremist terrorists giving things to kids.”

Booker said he was dismayed by the rudimentary status of the U.S.’s social media counter-messaging, pointing to the State Department’s “Think Again and Turn Away” Twitter campaign as an example. User engagement, he said, was “laughable”, with tweets garnering only two or three retweets.

“There are easy tactics—I know them—how to get more voice and vitality into messaging that we’re not using as a government to get counter messages out there,” said Booker. “Look at their fancy memes compared to what we’re not doing.”

Look out for next week’s Senate hearing, when Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) leads a writers’ workshop on composing viral 140-character essays.

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