The Islamic State group is known for its extensive use of social media.
However, its strategy provoked online mirth on Tuesday, with Internet users mocking its efforts to gain viewers.
On Tuesday, the group used apparently random Twitter hashtags with no connection to its Islamist agenda but seemingly intended to snare unsuspecting Japanese.
They included the words “Zuwaigani” (queen crab), “Saitou Hitoshi” (the Olympic judo champion who died Tuesday), and “Daikan” (traditionally the coldest day of the year, which fell on Tuesday).
Most Japanese Internet users who bothered to comment thought the tag lines were absurd.
“A tweet by an apparent Islamic State-related person looks totally funny as they attempt to use popular Japanese hashtags to gain access,” one commenter said in a tweet, with a screen shot of a tweet by an apparent Islamic State member attached.
But the group seemed to have achieved its aim. A tweet with these hashtags posted by an Islamic State twitter account on Tuesday had received 167 retweets as of Wednesday.
Other Internet users commented on the apparent manipulation of the online video, in which a knife-wielding militant threatens two Japanese hostages.
Senior Vice Defense Minister Akira Sato told reporters on Tuesday that the clip’s authenticity remained unconfirmed, and that he personally felt there was something strange about it.
A Facebook user named Hoshihiko Tada called the video a “blatant fabrication” because the shadows beneath the hostages’ chins fall in opposite directions.
He said a video editor would find it easy to manipulate the composition by dressing the individuals in a single color, such as the orange shirts in which the hostages are seen, and using the so-called green screen technique to swap out the background.
Some Japanese Twitter users sneered at the Islamic State group’s efforts. One sent the group an image of nine anime girls and asked which was the group’s favorite. “You are stupid,” the group replied.
With the hashtag “ISIS kusokora guranpuri” (ISIS crappy collage grand prix), Japanese tweeters weighed in for chuckles with ever more absurdly re-edited stills from the video.
ISIS refers to another name for the Islamic State group.
One Internet user gave the hostages the faces of cartoon characters Songoku from the Dragon Ball series and Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece.
Another swapped the faces of the hostages and hostage-taker, reversing the roles of the captor and his victims.
The Twitter accounts of The Japan Times and those of its reporters received mentions on Islamic State-related Twitter accounts, but there was no apparent contact from the group.
One Islamic State-linked account, however, signed off to the slew of online sneering with a sinister message.
“Japanese people, you are so optimistic,” it said. “We have army everywhere.”