Political scientist compares ISIS social media strategy to Taylor Swift's

A political scientist is comparing Taylor SwiftTaylor Alison SwiftThe Hill's Morning Report — Bloomberg is in; independents sour on impeachment Elizabeth Warren's hypocritical and foolish attack on private equity Progressive Democrats ramp up attacks on private equity MORE’s social media strategy to those employed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to recruit followers.

P.W. Singer, who is currently on tour promoting his new book "LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media," said that Swift and the top ISIS recruiter, Junaid Hussain, have fundamentally different motives but essentially share the same goal: to build a massive army of online supporters.

"There are all of these different tricks of the trade, and what’s interesting is that you’re finding the same tricks used by fundamentally different actors but with the same goal — drive their ideas viral, form an online army,” Singer, a strategist and senior fellow at New America, told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on “Rising.”

The security expert added that various online actors do this by employing what he calls “planned authenticity," which means engaging with followers one-on-one “where they know the world is watching” and in a way that is “designed to go viral.”

In Swift’s case, the author said the singer reaches out to fans and offers them encouragement about a break-up or praises them for certain milestones, like a driver’s license.

Hussian, on the other hand, uses this tactic to incite potentially deadly violence, citing the 2015 shooting in Garland, Texas, where local police foiled an attack at an event featuring controversial cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.

Hussian, who also goes by the alias Abu Hussain al-Britani, was later linked to one of the shooters. The British hacker also previously used various accounts on the social platform to urge attacks in the West and encourage others to travel to Syria to join the insurgency.

But Singer says for both, it’s all an act to get more followers.

“That authenticity has them appear as if they are real and being real online matters but it’s also kind of performative,” the author told Hill.TV.

"LikeWar," Singer's latest book, explores the way the internet is affecting war and politics.

“Cyberwar is how you hack networks, Likewar is how you hack the people on the networks,” the author said in reference to the book's title.  

— Tess Bonn