Mapping ISIS: Three Months of Global ISIS Narrative

In the latest addition to our map series using CartoDB, we plot all worldwide news coverage monitored by GDELT 2.0 from February 19, 2015 through June 7, 2015 that discusses the Islamic State.  This is not a map of ISIS' military footprint, but instead is a far more powerful map of how the world is contextualizing the terrorist group – a would-be recruitee arrested, a politician invoking them, a cartoon contest, a new terrorism law being passed, and so on.

Mapping ISIS is more complicated than the past topics we've tackled given just how strongly they have entered the global discourse, finding their way into even casual discussion.  Breaking news insets and specialized footers focusing on ISIS are the great single cause of false positives, posing significant complications for GDELT's body identification algorithms, while the fact that "Isis" is a common person name in certain regions of the world yields common misidentifications, and translation error adds additional difficulties.  That is to say that the map below has a significantly higher false positive rate than our other maps, and sometimes you may have to scroll through a few results or nearby locations.  However, adding aggressive filtering to the map removed a great number of small mentions of particular interest.  Thus, after considerable manual review and discussion about this map, we ultimately decided to release the map in its present form, with the higher-than-usual false positive rate, in order to present a broad view of the impact of ISIS across the world today.

(Click to View Map in Full Browser Window)

For the technically minded, the map was created using the same instructions as the Poaching, Drones, and Cyber maps, using the following BigQuery query (note that the wildcard on "TAX_WEAPONS_SUICIDE_" catches suicide vests, suicide bombers, suicide bombings, suicide jackets, and so on):

SELECT DATE, DocumentIdentifier, SourceCommonName, V2Themes, V2Locations, V2Tone, SharingImage, TranslationInfo FROM [gdeltv2.gkg] where (V2Themes like '%TAX_TERROR_GROUP_ISLAMIC_STATE%' or V2Themes like '%TAX_TERROR_GROUP_ISIL%' or V2Themes like '%TAX_TERROR_GROUP_ISIS%' or V2Themes like '%TAX_TERROR_GROUP_DAASH%') and (V2Themes like '%TERROR%TERROR%' or V2Themes like '%SUICIDE_ATTACK%' or V2Themes like '%TAX_WEAPONS_SUICIDE_%')