Islamic State's blood-thirstiness has been much commented on, as has its use of modern technology. Posting videos of a man issuing threats before killing a hostage ... this is the "new normal" for Islamic State comms, but somehow it's exercised a strange power over many western commentators and politicians.
Put simply, it may be better to downplay these murders than to allow them to dominate the narrative. This is far from a simple task - especially as the nature of social media has (rightly) weakened the ability of news organisations to control the debate. But any serious assessment of policy must recognise that this violence is a tool and Western policymakers are being manipulated into making rash judgements.
The recent migration of many jihadist organizations to social media reflects a desire to expand their targeted audience one step further. Password-protected forums - up until recently the main virtual gathering place for al-Qaeda supporters - made content particularly difficult to access for wannabe jihadists, while also representing a common target for the security services' disruption efforts.