Feb 17, 2015 · 1 minute

The government wants to improve its use of social media to combat propaganda used by the so-called Islamic State and other extremist organizations to get the attention of new recruits.

Besides expanding the Center for Counterterrorism Communications to amplify its own messages, the government would also attempt to expand the reach of moderate Muslims and other non-violent voices on social media, according to a report from the New York Times.

It's not hard to guess why the United States might want to combat IS' recruitment efforts. The head of the National Counterterrorism Center told the Associated Press last week that the number of foreign fighters heading to battles in Iraq and Syria is "without precedent."

At least some of those fighters might have been motivated by the perception of IS as a technically-advanced group that uses social media, drones, and videos often described as "well produced" to recruit new members, assist its fighters, and spread its propaganda.

So it's no surprise that the government wants to use social media to undermine IS. Similar tactics have been used before: the government previously created a "Cuban Twitter" meant to "undermine the communist government in Cuba," the Associated Press reported in April.

And there seems to be increasing interest in governmental social media use in general. Hell, two of the world's most secretive intelligence agencies are using Twitter to make jokes about Tupac Shakur's whereabouts and recruit new codebreakers with encrypted gobbledygook.

But it's still absurd to think that the government has to turn to 140-character snippets and social tools that didn't exist a few years ago to combat a terrorist group. Any bets on how long it will be before Tinder becomes the "hearts and minds" battleground of the future?

[illustration by Brad Jonas]