Tactical and Technical

Keyboard Warriors: 'Best practice for countering violent extremism

By The Cove May 4, 2017


The Keyboard Warriors conference held on 30-31 March 2017 in Melbourne brought together speakers from the Australian, US and British militaries, law enforcement and emergency services, government, think tanks, the corporate sector, and academics. Over two days of presentations and workshops they considered the lessons the military might take from their experiences working in the digital environment and using social media platforms for their differing needs. Monash University and the Australian Army Research Centre co-hosted the conference and have made several of the presentations available on their website.  

One featured session was titled: 'What is best practice for countering violent extremism in the information environment?' It begins with a presentation from LTCOL Jason Logue from the Australian Defence Force Military Information Effects Branch (video 01:30), then moves to a panel discussion Q&A session with LTCOL Logue, Elle Hendricks from the Attorney General's Department, Countering Violent Extremism Team, as well as Professor Michele Grossman from Deakin University (video 15:20).

Click the image to access the video

The panel discussions offer a range of diverse and thought provoking ideas in relation to use of Social Media by Defence and other government organisations. They discuss that market research suggests that 80% of social media users passively digest information, and only 20% of users wil be actively engaged. The panelists suggest that in order to be effective you need to be truly intimate with your audience and that due to their nature, government organisations struggle to achieve this. It was also suggested that we overuse the term 'social media strategy' which reinforces a limiting, platform-focussed mindset (social media is just one of the vectors available under a wholistic communications approach).

Click the image to access the video


The panelists also discuss male and female motivations and pathways to extremism. They talk of women as social influencers which makes them direct actors in pathways to extremism, but caution that cultural context plays a bigger role than gender. They also explain the 'Stairway to Terrorism' model (video: 51:15) which offers an explanation as to how people may be radicalised over time.

Visit the site to view the video, or alternatively scroll through the other presentations on a wide variety of defence use of social media topics that have been made available from the conference.

  • What are your views on the use of social media by Defence and other Government organisations?
  • Do you agree with the sentiment from Professor Grossman that 'emotional messaging is key to social media success - aim for the heart and the head will follow?' If so, we need to better understand how our adversaries may use this approach to work against us.
  • What can Army be doing better in the social media space? How do we better connect with our people and the wider community?



The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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