How the Social Networks Are Battling Militant Propaganda


As ISIS and other Islamic militant groups continue to terrorize our nation and other countries, social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are doing their part to make sure that these militant groups can’t use their networks to post propaganda and recruit new members.

On Friday, December 4, Facebook removed a profile that they believed belonged to Tashfeen Malik, the San Bernardino shooter who is accused of killing 14 people in a shooting attack in which the FBI is investigating as “an act of terrorism,” according to Reuters. One day earlier, on December 3, Reuters reports that the French prime minister and European Commission officials each met separately with Facebook, Twitter, and Google, as well as other companies, to demand faster action against terrorist militant groups on the Web. The social media companies are being discreet about what they’re doing, as they don’t want to get a bad reputation for “policing” the Internet.How the Social Networks Are Battling Militant Propaganda

As a result of those meetings, it appears the social networks are ready to oblige to a certain extent, but each network does have its own policy. They’ll ban certain content that doesn’t meet their terms of service criteria but require court orders to block or remove content that goes beyond that.

One thing to remember is that any user on these networks can report or flag content to be reviewed by the network, with the possibility of the content being taken down. That was the case for a French-speaking activist on Twitter, @NageAnon, who helped to rid YouTube of militant videos by alerting the network of policy violations on thousands of videos with the help of additional volunteers.

The truth about the social network’s compliance with Western law enforcement agencies may be skewed, though. According to former employees at Facebook, Twitter, and Google, the networks worry that if they’re public about their cooperation with the law enforcement agencies, they’ll face constant demands to remove content from other countries, in addition to being thought of by its users as chess pieces for the government.

While Reuters reports that the social networks don’t treat government complaints any different than citizen complaints, there are workarounds. If a government official were to complain that a threat, hate speech, or celebration of violence violates a social network’s terms of service, that content can then be taken down within minutes, without the paper trail that would accompany a court order. Facebook says it removed Malik’s profile because it violated the network’s community standards of promoting acts of terror, as there was pro-Islamic State content on Malik’s page.

Obviously, I think we’d all—including the government—like for this type of content not to ever make its way to the Internet in the first place, but there’d have to be technology implemented into the social media platforms that could scan a paragraph or image prior to a user actually posting it to the network.

Strides have been made to block out terrorist content, though. Twitter adjusted its abuse policy to ban indirect and direct threats of violence while Facebook has banned any content on its network that praises terrorists, as was the case with Malik’s profile. While we’d all like a lot more security against terrorist threats and propaganda on our social networks, I think we’re heading in the right direction.

And as the old adage goes, if you see something, say something. If you see content on your newsfeed or timeline that you think is questionable, mark it as inappropriate and let the social network investigate it on their end.

Images via Shutterstock

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Marketing and IT Must Stop Battling Each Other and Start Collaborating


A total of 81% of CEOs in top-performing companies are now actively using IT to achieve business strategy.

That statistic from professional services provider PwC’s Digital IQ study demonstrates a significant gear-change in the way IT is being deployed at strategic level in today’s high-flying businesses.

We at Brandworkz have also become aware of how the corporate mindset has been shifting.

IT used to be regarded as the engine of back-office number crunching and “getting stuff done,” but now, businesses are increasingly recognizing how digital power can get stuff done more efficiently at every functional level.

That “digital power” is changing the way businesses operate and interact with the world.

In our line of business, we see how marketers are rapidly adopting new technology, using software platforms to improve productivity and marketing efficiency. This digital explosion is the prime reason why chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) are working ever more closely together in the corporate environment.

“Most CMOs have woken up to the fact that technology is fundamentally changing what marketers do and that we can’t go on treating IT like a back-office function,” says Jonathan Becher, CMO at SAP. “And the CIO is becoming a strategic partner crucial to the development and execution of marketing strategy.”

A busy Marketing department will also bring on board a chief marketing technologist (CMT). However, in the absence of a CMT, success in marketing technology adoption will rely heavily on the relationship between CMO and CIO.

In Pursuit of a Collaborative Culture

Creating this collaborative culture is a big challenge.

Marketing people and IT people come from different worlds; they generally speak different languages and face different problems. Marketing people are creatively driven and fast-paced; IT people are process-driven and more measured in their approach.

How do you reconcile those different instincts?

Accenture has been surveying 1,100 senior marketing and IT executives from different countries and industries across the global economy. The results highlight the gap between marketing and IT.

  • 45% of CMOs said they wanted to enable staff to access and use data and content without IT intervention.
  • 49% of CIOs said they thought that marketing was using technologies without consideration for IT standards.
  • Only one in 10 of marketing and IT leaders believed their collaboration was at the right level.
  • 45% of CIOs said they put marketing IT near or at the top of their priorities, while 64% of CMOs thought marketing IT was placed at the bottom of the CIO’s priority list.

So where does that leave us?

We have to face up to it: Digital transformation isn’t just going to happen without the collaboration of IT and marketing. We have to shift the mindset of both parties, so that each supports the other in marketing technology decisions.

In the ideal situation, who will be doing what? Here’s my take on it.

The CIO will…

  • Focus on creating business value, not increasing IT productivity
  • Get better acquainted with digital marketing technologies and train his or her IT team in the resources and skill sets to support the implementations
  • Participate in selecting and testing new marketing technologies in the early stages (often neglected in early stage discussions with vendors)
  • Work on technology governance, security, and integration with other marketing systems

The CMO will…

  • Develop a good understanding of marketing technology but also an understanding of what general systems and processes the CIO has running already, lessening the risk of friction down the line
  • Evolve an educated view of how to merge marketing objectives with wider business growth
  • Pursue an agenda and investment plan for marketing technology that has been agreed with the CIO
  • Integrate with the Sales department’s technology as well (but that’s a different story)

The following graph by Forrester research shows how marketing professionals are already recognizing the problems we’ve been discussing. Better still, the graph suggests marketing professionals have a vision to take on what needs to be done.

Making the right choice of software is not easily done. At Brandworkz, we’ve had dream client situations in which the CIO and CMO overviews have a mutual definition of success. Both parties have a clear picture of the problems they need to solve and share accountability for business performance improvements.

And then there are those where marketing and IT are not aligned. Typically, IT has been brought in at a late stage and the project is threatened because they’ve identified various issues around integration, compliance, or processes.

Talking About Ideals

When CMO and CIO share a common view of the digital marketing requirements, supporting technology, IT architecture, and a clear understanding of what it takes to succeed, marketing technology is in a good place to fuel business growth.

Marketers are invited to apply their particular expertise and experience to help IT understand the expected outcome from taking on a new technology product. This is how IT develops a customer-service mentality, including listening to marketing team’s thoughts and ideas, and how the process of enabling digital change becomes a productively creative endeavor.

But wait… this must, really must, come from the top. It has to be driven by business leaders who understand that creating a collaborative culture is the foundation of digital success and realization of a shared objective.

Good communication, shared objectives, strong leadership.

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