It seems that everyone wants to be a content creator these days. From kids with webcams to billion dollar brands, everyone is producing videos in hopes of mastering the unruly wilds of YouTube. One unexpected entry into the game has a higher budget than most and better explosions than Freddie W. The U.S. military operates a number of YouTube channels, one of which is CentCom, short for Central Command. The channel is a grab bag of content featuring anything and everything from interviews with returning soldiers to news coverage of ceremonies and observances. Recently the channel has been blowing up, almost literally, due to new footage being posted daily of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria.
The footage is the same kind often seen on the evening news. They feature grainy night vision video of fighter jets launching and missiles hitting their often unrecognizable targets. The videos have proven popular with the media and with viewers. The CentCom channel has just over 7,000 subscribers but a recent video of a missile striking an ISIS compound has racked up over 2 million views. All of the footage is unclassified and available to the public, but the military has taken the extra step of publishing it online rather than just archiving it, leaving some to wonder why.
The most obvious answer is that YouTube, and social media generally, is yet another battleground in the current conflict. ISIS militants have successfully organized and promoted their cause via Twitter and Facebook. YouTube and other video sites have been waging a daily war to censor footage of ISIS executions and other acts of terror that are being used by the group as propaganda. Publicizing airstrikes as a demonstration of American strength makes a powerful counter-message to the one the ISIS is sending.