A team of West Point cadets has found a better use for social media than posting selfies and 140-character witticisms: going undercover and online to steer young Muslims away from terrorist recruiters.
The cadets crafted an online strategy to stem the flow of disaffected young people to Islamic State as an entry in an international contest sponsored by a group of federal agencies and tech companies. Unlike the competing teams from universities all over the world, the West Point contingent, which took second place, worked undercover.
“Since our website was targeting what we called ‘fence-sitters,’ I think if individuals who visited our social media platforms knew that they were being produced by anyone in the U.S. government, then the site would lose credibility,” Lt. Col. Bryan Price, director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, told FoxNews.com in an email.
Under Price’s direction, the team designed a recruiting strategy of its own, in which members go into chatrooms and websites where potential targets gather, engage and guide them toward websites and Twitter pages containing moderate Muslim voices. Those sites include a website, Facebook page and Twitter account the team created, which remain in effect and secret even now that the contest is over.