Thought of the Day, Jan 23, 2009
Social media is a reflection of the human condition, inasmuch as it represents those who can afford the time and money to spend online. Nevertheless, perhaps it is inevitable, then, that we see social media reflecting conflict as well. Twitter was among the first Web sites on which reports about the Mumbai bombings began to appear. Now it seems, the battle in Gaza between Israel and Hamas is being fought as much in Web 2.0 as it is on the ground.
As Yigal Schleifer, correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor, points out, the online community can now influence the news, and hence public opinion, a trend he calls “worrisome.”
Both sides used Twitter. Al Jazeera, an Arab-supported news network, sent out reports from Gaza via Twitter. The Israeli government held the “first ‘governmental’ press conference using Twitter at the conflict’s outset.”
But War 2.0 is only one aspect of a future with social media as part of our daily lives. As a reflection of humanity, social media will keep its role as the “cafe of the world” while offering any interest group the opportunity to stand on a soapbox.
“Rather than becoming the cafe of the world, where we interact on common ground, the Net has become a very effective place to rally people to your own cause and try to coordinate their actions.”
— Ethan Zuckerman, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University
In Blogs, YouTube: the new battleground of Gaza conflict by Yigal Schleifer