The Keyboard Warriors conference held in Melbourne on 30-31 March 2017,  brought together speakers from the Australian, US and British militaries, law enforcement and emergency services, government think tanks and the corporate sector coupled with academics to discuss their experiences with 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 link below to access the videos.

Keyboard warriors video

The panel discussions offered a range of diverse and thought provoking ideas in relation to the use of Social Media by Defence and other government organisations. They discussed that market research suggests that 80% of social media users passively digest information, and only 20% of users will be actively engaged in it. The panellists 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).

The panellists also discuss male and female motivations and pathways to extremism. They spoke 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?