The Islamic State group, or ISIS, has been noted for its active use of social media for recruiting members across the globe to carry out extremist attacks. Social media giants are seeking to shut down any ISIS-related accounts, and Anonymous has declared war on ISIS in reaction to the Paris attacks that left more than 100 dead. While several governments are taking military action against ISIS, the Internet has something else in mind.
The Internet is taking a rather humorous stance against ISIS by using PhotoShop to superimpose rubber duck heads on ISIS fighters. One 4chan user suggested the meme by saying, “How about castrating the image of IS [ISIS] by replacing the faces on ALL the propaganda photos with bath ducks?” Social media has mocked the Islamic extremist cry of “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for God is greatest) by calling the effort “Allahu Quackbar.” Users have also Photoshopped in toilet bowl brushes and bathroom related items in place of the weapons carried by ISIS members, which is expected to erode support for the extremist group.
While ISIS activity on social media is prevalent, there have also been reports that as many as 300 ISIS recruiters may be recruiting in the United States and using social media to recruit fighters. “In one case the seemingly naïve individual posted general questions about religion, to which ISIS supporters quickly responded in a calm and authoritative manner,” the report said, saying that ISIS supporters could be hiding in plain sight on social media.
However, further engagement with ISIS supporters showed their true nature. “After a few weeks, the accounts of hardened ISIS supporters slowly introduced increasingly ardent views into the conversation. The new recruit was then invited to continue the conversion privately, often via Twitter’s Direct Message feature or on other private messaging platforms such as surespot.”
Several Twitter users applauded the use of humor when dealing with a serious matter such as fighting ISIS. “The idea of replacing faces of IS members with bath ducks to mock them is a beautiful thing,” said London-based writer Michael MacLennan, founder of PureMoth.com.
Anonymous has been behind the effort, claiming that they have taken out thousands of ISIS-related accounts. “We report that more than 5,500 Twitter accounts of #ISIS are now #down!” the group said in a tweet. ISIS has been moving onto the so-called “dark web,” or a section of the Internet which requires specific software, configurations or authorization to access, and is not indexed by search engines. Other users of the dark web include peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, as well as Tor, which is operated by public organizations and individuals. However, Anonymous has found several ISIS websites on the dark web, hacking one and replacing it with a Prozac ad.
While governments continue to try to contain ISIS, Internet users have also been given a chance to combat the extremist group by using humor. After all, it’s been said that laughter is the best medicine.