Article: Why ISIS Is Winning the Social Media War

This is an interesting article that breaks down ISIS’ use of social media to create participatory culture. It is a long article, but regardless it is an interesting and relevant example of some of the topics we discussed last week, as well as the methods ISIS has used to generate such a large social media following, so quickly.

An extremist movement’s success often depends on its ability to master the latest means of communication.
—Victoria Tang (Quoted in the article)

Fan culture and politics

While doing this week’s reading I was reminded of this tumblr post I saw a couple months ago. The post discusses transformative fan work and tries to hypothesize its appeal. It discusses how the majority of fanfiction writers are women, and that a pretty good amount of those women also identify as LGBT+, and basically makes the argument that these writers “create personal fan interpretations in order to see themselves represented, or to correct/ameliorate stereotypical portrayals”. This isn’t the only post I’ve seen that makes this argument, that part of the purpose of transformative fan work for many writers is to change the elements of well-loved source media which are influenced by harmful stereotypes created and facilitated by harmful politics into stories that reflect the lived realities of the people writing the fanfiction. I’ve also seen posts discussing how transformative fan work can be a tool against capitalism, such as this post, which describes the culture of fanfiction by saying that “women have created a community where they don’t need to buy anything to get what they want”.

I just thought it was interesting that in Fuchs’s discussion of fan culture and politics, he doesn’t talk about the political implications of transformative fan work. The perspectives expressed in the posts I quoted are debatable, of course, but Fuchs overlooks transformative fan work and gender dynamics in fan culture completely in his conclusion that there is basically nothing political about online fan culture and I think that’s an oversight worth challenging.

Online Identities

Last lecture we looked at Nancy Baym’s article “New relationships, new selves?” where she touched on the idea of online identities. Social media sites make it very easy for individuals to come up with new identities to present online and it is assumed by many that the majority is doing this. Like Baym says under her subsection Honesty, “…people often expect others to be less honest online.”(pg. 115). It is difficult for us to know what is real and what is fake in respects to what someone is posting about themselves online. In a similar article to Baym’s, author Steve Matthews looks at the subject of the Internet and identities in his article “Internet Ethics”. Here, he states “The online environment of email, Facebook, blogs, and so on provides users with the time needed to present their preferred selves.”(pg. 4). He goes in to talk about arguments concerning the thought that online friendships can’t be possible when the Internet “distorts our self presentations”(pg. 4). Both articles bring up important questions of honestly and trust on the Internet, specifically what is real and what is fake online.

If you want to read Matthew’s article on “Internet Ethics” I have posted it below!


Group 10: Norm Breaching Ideas

Post snapchat stores as if you were a celebrity (document your whole day)

Post a “follow up” profile post on Western Class of _____ Social Group Facebook page

Email friends as if it were a text (What’s up?, wanna go out, etc.)

Post daily Instagrams with caption as #followforfollow and #likeforlike

Send old friends and acquaintances uber splits out of the blue

Create snapchat groups with friends from different social groups and initiate a conversation

Each day write a personalized birthday post for each Facebook friend who is celebrating their birthday

Add every suggested Facebook friend and thank them for accepting (if they do)

Thank each person who likes your photo in the comment section