Islamic State Telegram Stickers: Purposes, Themes, and Narratives

The dynamic encompassing nature of Islamic State propaganda includes a wide array of messaging ranging from official media (which includes weekly news releases, professional video footage, glossy magazines, and audio announcements) to unofficial supporter-created content. A facet of this unofficial propaganda consists of online supporters’ creation and usage of Islamic State-themed stickers on the messaging app, Telegram. Islamic State supporters are present on other platforms but they have found a fairly stable long-term home on this app despite the November 2019 coordinated campaign by Europol and Telegram to disrupt the Islamic State’s media ecosystem. There are numerous reasons as to why Telegram is particularly appealing to them but an additional seemingly minor app feature adds a unique dimension: the ability for users to create their own sticker sets.

Although stickers consist of images and/or a limited amount text, this visual messaging works in tandem with other forms of Islamic State propaganda to convey and supplement multi-faceted propaganda narratives. At times, the array of narratives that appear may seem sporadic but, as Kathleen German writes in The Media World of ISIS“…the appearance and inconsistency on the surface belies a more sophisticated media mixture of hard and soft messages whose complexity appeals to the target audiences.” The ability for supporters to construct their own sticker sets further decentralises propaganda efforts and it offers a creative outlet through which individuals can express their support.

Read more at the Global Network on Extremism & Technology

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