US Team Using Social Media to Counter Militants

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press
The DOT is engaged on many of the most  popular sites that cater to Arabic, Persian and  Urdu language readers. Its target audience does not include extremist sites due to their lack of traffic and unwillingness to engage with U.S representatives.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- A group of U.S. government workers called the Digital Outreach Team is countering extremist propaganda on sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The team posts tweets, updates on Facebook and video to YouTube in Arabic, Punjabi, Somali and Urdu. The 50-member team is comprised of Americans and foreign nationals who are native speakers of the four languages. The unit had more than 7,000 what they term "engagements" -- postings, updates or uploads.

The top official on the team, Alberto Fernandez, says the goal of the team is to contest space that had previously been ceded to extremists. Fernandez says that in years past groups like al-Qaida could monopolize online discussions, but that the U.S. Digital Outreach Team is now in the online space to rebut false claims.

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