The U.S. is planning to open a data center in Malaysia in the coming months. Reports say the new center will seek to undermine Islamic States digital recruitment and propaganda efforts.
It's reported that the under secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Richard Stengel, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee the news on Wednesday in Washington.
Stengel says the center will aim to fill a gap in the media landscape by countering the viral spread of disinformation by state and non-state actors.
The new data center will be based in Kuala Lumpur and is reported to be followed by similar outposts in Jordan and Nigeria. These go into operation as Islamic State recruiters are increasingly moving away from unprotected networks and onto encrypted platforms.
According to Stengel, while this makes it harder to track some online conversations, success will be gauged by measuring declines in the flow of foreign fighters to conflict areas and a decrease in social media activity.
It is reported that companies such as Twitter and Facebook have also assisted the State Department’s efforts by being more proactive in removing pro-Islamic State accounts and propaganda. Stengal told the committee that Twitter had also taken down 125,000 pro-Islamic State accounts.
The need for anti-Islamic centers around the globe show just how far the groups reach is. It is reported that this year alone the group has managed to carry out or inspire mass-casualty events in places including Turkey, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Orlando, Florida.
While Malaysia hasn’t been a direct target, reports say that police have detained 14 people in May for suspected links to the group.