Non-state extremist groups like Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda utilise various online channels to disseminate strategic information to members, sympathisers, and potential recruits. Extremist groups disseminate official and user-generated content online to propagate their ideological goals, recruit, radicalise, and reinforce narratives. Scholars assessing the reactions to online account disruptions recognise that groups targeted for takedowns respond by migrating to more secure platforms such as Telegram emerging as a vital communication channel for IS after deplatforming from more popular sites like Twitter and Facebook. More recently, Telegram undertook an extensive effort to censor IS-related channels and accounts that slowed the online activity of the group considerably. Yet, as the group’s recent shift to alternate networks, IS is still working to rebuild its Telegram networks, albeit in a less robust form.
While researchers have carefully examined online migration and access patterns of extremist groups after deplatforming campaigns, any corresponding changes in the messaging content appearing in their official publications remain unexplored. To examine the content of official IS media messaging in terms of priming, agenda-setting, and framing at a time of severe channel disruption we asked the following: If the number of visual images in al-Naba will decline after a major suspension of IS’s Telegram networks; and if the media content of visual images in al-Naba will change after major suspensions of IS’s online networks.