In this major new report, Policy Exchange provides a comprehensive analysis of the struggle against online extremism – the ’new Netwar’. The spate of terrorist attacks in the first half of 2017 confirmed that jihadist radicalisation is a real and present danger to the national security of the UK and its allies. Yet talk of ISIS’ ‘decline’ in the virtual world has been grossly overstated. The group has shown itself to be adaptable and durable – in spite of the loss of its physical strongholds – and there is a danger that the blood and treasure invested in Iraq and Syria will produce little more than a pyrrhic victory.
ISIS is producing extremist content online at a consistent rate and this is spread across a vast information ecosystem: it is disseminated to core followers via Telegram, before being pumped out into the mainstream social media space (via Twitter, Facebook and other leading platforms). For this reason, this paper argues that more must be done to force jihadist content out of the mainstream. It is clear that the status quo is not working; it is time for a new approach.