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This Anti-ISIS Twitter Account Slid Into My DMs Without Asking

Exclusive: Here's what we learned about Australia's social media fight against Islamic State.

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It all started when Australia's defence minister Kevin Andrews confirmed the launch of @Fight_DAESH yesterday morning.

Follow @Fight_DAESH - the #YourADF @twitter acc correcting false information disseminated by DAESH and its sympathisers #DAESHLies #auspol

And the first couple of tweets were pretty, well, guarded, using popular hashtags #DAESHLies and #DefeatDAESH.

.@Battar_21 spreads #DAESHLies. Imagery only shows initial stage of ISF Urban Ops training in Taji. #DefeatDAESH 1/2

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They decided to go after one tweet from what appears to be an Islamic State account, @Battar_21.

.@Battar_21 spreads #DAESHLies. Here ISF complete advanced Urban Ops training with weapons in Taji. #DefeatDAESH 2/2

(FYI "Daesh" is a negative term used by some in the Middle East and the West for ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State. It's an acronym for the group's Arabic name, "al-Dawla al-Islamyia fil Iraq wa'al Sham".)

But putting the effectiveness of the first few tweets aside, one detail was striking: the Twitter bird which had been ISIS branded and put in gun sights.

Anyone else find it weird the Australian foreign service is rifling an ISIS-Twitter bird? Just me ok.

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With the key issue put to rest (Twitter's trademark wasn't being illegally misappropriated) the person/people behind @Fight_Daesh told me that it was all a bit of an experiment.

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I still couldn't quite believe what was happening. Knowing their responses could end at any time I decided to go with a question that had been playing on my mind for several minutes.

Note here: This was the first mention of "Media Ops" which is the PR arm of the defence agencies.

Sliding into my DMs was clearly not part of the pre-approved media plan.

(Then again, maybe it was. But I don't think it was).

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It quite clearly showed the impermanence of the Twitter strategy and how under-developed they were in countering the ISIS messages on social media.

Unless of course this is just the very public face, with a more covert campaign (with memes obviously) happening behind the scenes.

Or as former Australian army captain, James Brown put it...

If words are bullets, then @Fight_DAESH needs an ammo resupply.

Mark Di Stefano is a political editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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