Just in case you don’t watch the news or pay little heed to what’s going on in the Middle East, Israel went to war with Hamas in Gaza this week, and is using social media as a weapon in the fight.
Instead of relying on the press to convey their message, Israel is taking the story right to their target audience on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube, demonstrating the power of social as a tool, even a weapon, of war.
Yesterday, Israeli military posted a video on YouTube of the “pinpoint strike” that arguably lead to the current conflict: The assassination of Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari (considered by some to be the Osama bin Laden of Hamas).
The video was momentarily taken down from YouTube yesterday, causing some to wonder if an assassination video violates Google’s fairly liberal terms of service (you’ll recall, they even allowed the controversial Innocence of Muslims film to remain, despite international outcry and violence). However, AllThingsD reports that the takedown was merely a mistake. Additionally, a video of the aftermath of the assassination is still available:
Israel also announced its combat campaign against Hamas in Gaza via Twitter, causing one commenter to proclaim the conflict as the “the first war ever declared on Twitter.”
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 14, 2012
Additionally, the Israeli Defense Forces have been regularly updating their Facebook page with images that serve to announce developments in the conflict, warn Hamas operatives, or instruct Israeli citizens.
Additionally, both sides in the conflict are live-tweeting constantly with time-stamped updates and developments. Even more interesting, both sides are engaging with each other on social media. While this looks like your “basic Twitter argument” it all becomes more surreal when you remember that people are actually dying in this fight.
@idfspokesperson Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves)
— Alqassam Brigades (@AlqassamBrigade) November 14, 2012
But wait, doesn’t all of this social media stuff violate the various terms and service agreements of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, et al? Not necessarily. While I won’t shove those stuffy and legalistic policies down your throats, let’s just say that the Israeli/Hamas conflict on the ground and via social media is completely unprecedented, representing a very gray area, and you get the sense that these social media giants have no idea how to handle it.
So I’ll turn that question to you. What do you think? Should Israel and Hamas be allowed to wage war with each other … through social media?