Critical Analysis of Islamic State Social Media

In this project, we lay bare the narrative and linguistic structures of Islamic State (IS) propaganda videos on social media. Our researchers conduct a critical analysis of how notions of utopia and dystopia are depicted by IS and compare these to historical Nazi propaganda. We also provide English and French translations of the monologues used in these videos to enable the broader public to better contextualize  the post-apocalyptic rhetoric being used by the IS extremists.

Director of Project Someone as well as the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance at Concordia and UNESCO Co-Chair for the Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism, Vivek Venkatesh, and colleagues, examine aspects of propaganda in ISIS videos. Other Project Someone members co-authoring this article are Jeffrey Podoshen, Jason Wallin and Jihan Rabah.

Click here for full article.  

Jeff Podoshen talks about hate speech, freedom of expression, and IS on social media.

Jihan Raban talks about hate speech, freedom of expression, and building resilience to propaganda.


Terrorism and Propaganda: A Critical Analysis of ISIS Social Media

Through the use of discourse analysis, this podcast explores the terrorist propaganda inherent in five social media videos created and disseminated by ISIS in 2015. Terrorist groups, such as ISIS, as well as others, have long been utilizing social media to recruit youth; we need to identify, address and combat the propaganda they are disseminating. Key features of the narratives being propagated include different ways ISIS terrorists articulate and use religious scriptures to back up and defend their hypotheses and their violence. It also includes the adept use of technology, music, and cinematography to instill fear. Only by grounding the analysis of propaganda in the investigation of the discourses inherent in these videos, will we be able to create an alternative narrative to battle the deleterious impacts of these brutal messages.

Please contact to request copies of the English or French translations of the narrative in the social media videos.



Jihan Rabah PhD

Jihan Rabah is currently Vice President, Research and Analysis at eConcordia/KnowledgeOne. She was a Mitacs postdoctoral research fellow at Project Someone from 2016 to 2018. Her research interests are grounded in the affordances of digital technologies in education, specifically the intersections of liberating and/or oppressing roles social media can play in learning environments.

Jeff Podoshen PhD

Jeff Podoshen is Associate Professor in the department of Business, Organizations and Society at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, USA. One of the early pioneers of the use of netnography in social sciences research, Jeff utilizes a myriad of mixed method and cutting edge qualitative techniques to distill complex data into more easily defined categories that allows for greater introspection on specific subcultures.


Promoting Extreme Violence: Visual and Narrative Analysis of Select Ultraviolent Terror Propaganda Videos Produced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2015 and 2016

Venkatesh, V., Podoshen, J.S., Wallin, J., Rabah, J., & Glass, D.

This paper examines aspects of violent, traumatic terrorist video propaganda produced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) within the theoretical confines of abjection and the use of utopian/dystopian themes. These themes have been present in a number of studies that have examined consumption of the dark dystopic variety. We seek to elucidate on the use of specific techniques and narratives that are relatively new to the global propaganda consumerspace and that relate to horrific violence. Our work here is centered on interpretative analysis and theory building that we believe can assist in understanding and interpreting post-apocalyptic and abject-oriented campaigns in the age of social media and rapid transmission of multimedia communications. In the present analysis, we examine eight ISIS videos created and released in 2015 and 2016. All of the videos chosen for analysis have utilized techniques related to abjection, shock, and horror, often culminating in the filming of the murder of ISIS’s enemies or place-based destruction of holy sites in the Middle East. We use inductive content analytic techniques in the contexts of consumer culture, “cinemas of attraction,” and pornography of violence to propose an extension of existing frameworks of terrorism and propaganda theory.