Thought it would be a good idea to update this blog slightly more frequent than every other 6 months, and maybe do shorter posts and try to communicate the ongoing work I do. Results and arguments from the research are and will mainly be presented in upcoming publications. Instead I will use this blog outlet as more of an update-platform where I simply provide some short information on the progression of my work with Islamic State (IS) propaganda (like an extension of my Twitter-feed).
So since early June, for almost four months now, I have been monitoring and tracking around 60 channels/chats/groups on Telegram, connected to IS. Now, this connection can be more or less obvious, but I have focused on those accounts that are clearly affiliated in terms of content being distributed (and a few other characteristics as well). After a few years of experience of daily collecting propaganda, I know quite well what is IS content and what is not, what is official and what is un-official/supporters propaganda.
The official channels (mainly Arabic channels of Nashir and Amaq News Agency) are constant in their presence on Telegram, in the sense that several replicas are running simultaneously, generating new channels after a few days in order to prevent being diminished in number by censorship. And once having been invited to these channels, it has been rather easy staying on and monitor the activity and content being spread through them. Certain skills in Arabic and jihadist terminology is essential for me, otherwise I would loose track rather fast.
The supporters channel are more problematic, as the ones I follow are frequently moving around, sometimes a couple of times per day. But so far I have managed to keep track of movements, get into groups and channels, only to reach my purpose to collect enough data/material of IS Telegram activities and content for empirical analysis meant for both ongoing book project and journal articles.
As co-editor of a new anthology on the media world and virtual universe of IS (script with peer-reviewer and publisher currently), I now also continued to write a monography in Swedish on the same topic, hoping to get published 2018. In the latter I will include IS move from Twitter to Telegram and extensively dissect the function of this platform and the media practices IS are utilizing.
So my research time (basically every evening) is spent on this currently, average 4-5 hours every day monitoring, taking screen-shots, downloading material etc – all in all to get a significant understanding of IS use of Telegram, from a propaganda perspective. Considering the difficulties of entering these channels and forums, I believe I am starting to get a really unique set of data and insight into one of the most complex and decentralised communication strategies of any terrorist organization in history so far.
All the brutality aside.