Some call this guerrila marketing in an attempt to persuade young potential jihadist NOT to join Islamic State. Michael Lumpkin at the State Department realized that “You’re not going to convince die-hard jihadists. We were not resonating with the audiences that we needed to resonate with. We needed to engage with with people who haven’t yet joined ISIL. It’s how you starve them out of recruits.” By buying ads on Facebook – something never before attempted in this way – the officials found that they could tap into vast troves of data on the interests and browsing habits of legions of Facebook users, allowing them to pinpoint individuals who showed an affinity for jihadist groups and causes.” Maybe Mr. Lumpkin can help Mark Zuckerberg in his efforts to ferret out fake news?
Mr. Lumpkin further argues that the efffort remains a critical one for a reason that has been long apparent to terrorism experts around the globe: Extremist ideologies can’t be defeated with conventional weapons alone. “We are not going to message our way out of this conflict, nor are we going to kill our way out. We have to have a layers and balanced approach.” Unfortunately Mr. Lumpkin has to leave his position on January 20 (he was not a career civil servant, various types of “political appointments throughout the federal bureaucracy). He left with this message: “For $15,000 you can buy an audience. And you can make sure you’re hitting them with the best information based on their profiles. That’s good business.”
And we were always afraid that “Big brother was watching.” In this case, I am a little less concerned since he seems to be watching us and others who may do us harm.