..the case of 41-year-old Vester Flanagan, the former on-air reporter at WDBJ-7, who gunned down his one-time colleagues, the “dark side of instant sharing,” as Wired described the tragedy, appears to have as much to do with an old school desire to “make it” on mainstream media than it does the scourge of social that some have blamed in the hours since the tragedy. Overlooked in the disgust over the Virginia gunman’s video posts of the shooting is the fact that both Twitter and Facebook suspended Flanagan’s account soon after he shared his video. CBS Evening News, along with several mainstream news sites, however, broadcast the footage. While CBS was the only network that made the decision to show Flanagan’s video, CNN was one of several cable channels to broadcast the on-air footage taken by the slain cameraman most of the day ”” which was, in all likelihood, Flanagan’s intent.
Contrast this with members of the Islamic State and other terrorists who have used social media to distribute shocking materials of bloodthirsty acts in order to gain notoriety and followers. Supporters of Islamic State have as many as 90,000 accounts on Twitter. The group is so good at harnessing social media that the United States’ counter-strategy pales in comparison. In a June memo obtained by the New York Times, State Department official Richard Stengel described Islamic State’s social media dominance: “When it comes to the external message, our narrative is being trumped by ISIL’s.”
Yet for members of Islamic State, social media is the most meaningful outlet for building their base.