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.

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.



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.

Jihan Rabah PhD

Jihan Rabah is a Mitacs postdoctoral research fellow at Concordia University. 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.


Promoting the Abject: Visual Analysis of ISIS Propaganda Videos

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

Utilizing visual analysis and the positioning triad, we closely examine online videos produced by ISIS, which utilize abjection, shock, death and ultraviolence as key components used to promote the organization.  Thus far very little is understood about the techniques ISIS uses to promote itself as an organization.  Our findings indicate that ISIS utilizes abject violence, torture and death in a fashion similar to action-focused horror films and hyperreal western orientated media to attract new members into the fold.  We believe that by analyzing these propaganda techniques, nested in Baudrillardrian introspection, we can pave a path for more informed theory building and insight about the effects of the violent propaganda being disseminated.  In this respect, our work acts as a starting point in a larger effort to cultivate dialogue and spur examination about how organizations are coming to rely on images of real death in their promotional strategies.

(under review at Consumption, Markets and Culture – link coming soon)