U.S. gov't uses Twitter, Facebook to fight al-Qaeda

Apr 12, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT
Anti-Government Protesters Clash With Pro-Mubarak Demonstrators
Getty/ Peter Macdiarmid

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A group of U.S. government workers called the Digital Outreach Team is countering extremist propaganda on sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The team posts tweets, updates on Facebook and video to YouTube in Arabic, Punjabi, Somali and Urdu. The 50-member team is comprised of Americans and foreign nationals who are native speakers of the four languages. The unit had more than 7,000 what they term "engagements" — postings, updates or uploads.

The top official on the team, Alberto Fernandez, says the goal of the team is to contest space that had previously been ceded to extremists. Fernandez says that in years past groups like al-Qaida could monopolize online discussions, but that the U.S. Digital Outreach Team is now in the online space to rebut false claims.