In DepthPOLITICAL SCIENCE

How to attack the Islamic State online

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Science  17 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6292, pp. 1380
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6292.1380

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Summary

In a pair of studies, one published last week in Science Advances and the other on p. 1459, a Oxford University team draws on 6 months of studying social media groups that sympathize with the terrorist group known as the Islamic State to reveal in fine detail the growth and evolution of the online networks that supply the group with recruits and support. One surprise is that women play a key role, possibly more important than men, in its propaganda machine. The team's analysis of how terrorist groups expand on social media also suggests a strategy for thwarting them: disrupt aggregates of their supporters early, before they coalesce into larger groups.