Storyful’s goal was to source, verify, and archive key content emerging from the large volume of eyewitness- and IS-published media online, and make sense of that content to allow our news partners to tell a coherent story.

We broke the down what we found into three categories:

  1. Content relating to the initial show of force and military capability

IS content focused on its military strength and ability to take on state forces in asymmetric warfare. Such content was used as propaganda and as a recruiting tool.

The purpose of documenting and verifying this content was to provide news partners with information that either confirmed or contested IS claims of territorial gains, its access to weaponry, and its training methodologies. We were also able to assess the group’s methods of content distribution: where they were publishing content and who was amplifying it.

  1. Content relating to ordinary life under IS control

As part of its efforts to attract foreign fighters and their families to join the fighting in Iraq and Syria, IS produced various videos showing life inside the city apparently continuing as normal. The videos showed happy citizens, busy markets and the rule of law in the city.

These videos were produced in multiple languages, with speakers representing the many nationalities that joined IS.

Storyful’s goal here was to document the release of this propaganda, and provide news partners with information on where and when the videos were produced, along with information about who made them, and who was involved.

  1. Content relating to human rights abuses (by IS and others)

Alongside shows of military force and videos showing “normal life” in the city, IS produced multiple videos showing violent reprisals against enemy fighters, prisoner beheadings, and videos showing acts of “justice” carried out against citizens breaking IS’s laws.

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