Paris Attacks: Social Media in the Age of Terrorism

Paris Attacks: 129 People killed by ISIS

129 people were killed in Paris a fortnight ago, during shootings that happened in 6 locations across the city. Following the traumatic events of these ISIS attacks, social media has once again become a massive voice against terrorism.

The first thing that I want to do is to express my support for the families involved, and hope that we can live in a future of peace.

The aim of this blog is to raise awareness of issues around terrorism and social media responses. It is intended to help people to use social media respectfully during times of terror.

Social Media and Terrorism

What is the impact of the way we use social media in times of crisis? Social media can shock people, offend people and support people. Today, I explore the difficult topic of social media during times of terror.

Facebook French Flag Profiles

People across the world are changing their Facebook profile to the French Flag rainbow filter overlay, in order to show solidarity with Paris. This is seen by many to be a supportive symbolic action during this difficult time.

French Flag

Personally, I haven’t changed my Facebook profile to the Tricolour – I want to show solidarity not just with Paris, but with the whole world. If I had to change my flag every time there was an attack that I wanted to be against, surely I would be changing it on a daily basis? I also tend to avoid using my Facebook page for political discussion and try to focus on the positives of this world. This is just personal choice.

Read about why Facebook user Charlotte Farhan did not change her profile to a French Flag.

Isn’t it a little Eurocentric if we change our profiles to the flags of European countries, but fail to do so for all the other countries that have suffered attacks (e.g. Lebanon, Jordan)? The Independent even goes as far as saying ‘congratulations on your white supremacy.’ I don’t quite think that is the message that many people who have changed their profile pictures to the Tricolore intended to convey.

Whatever you decide to display on your profile, think carefully and do it with positive intention. Promote love not hate.

My Facebook Newsfeed Horror – Blinks of Bicester Racist Remarks

Horror struck when, in my newsfeed, following the terror attacks on Paris, I saw a post that read…

“Blinks of Bicester are no longer taking bookings from anyone from the Islamic faith whether you are UK granted with passport or not” and “Sorry but time to put my country first”

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 09.43.34

Absolutely shocking. Racist. Illegal. Deleted. Blocked. Reported.

It seems that some people still need educating on the difference between Muslims and terrorists.

Muslims = Peace and love of Allah. Followers of the Qur’an (which is against murder).

Terrorists = Violent people who murder and torture often with political aims (many are wrongly using the name of religion to make excuses for these actions).

Sadly, it seems evident from social media that there are still some people in this world who have a lot left to learn.

With regard to ‘Blinks of Bicester’, a 43 year old woman has been arrested for racism and inciting hatred, and the Facebook page has now been closed down. This company don’t even deserve a backlink, but their business is probably going under anyway considering the negative publicity.

We have to remember that whatever we post on Facebook, it is there for the world to see. Even once deleted, we can still be held accountable. Post respectfully. Check your facts. Avoid statements that will offend.

#JeSuisChien

Now trending on Twitter is #JeSuisChien (I am a dog), to show solidarity with Paris and in memory of Diesel, the 7 year old Belgian Shepherd police dog that was killed in the raids on Saint-Denis yesterday.

Diesel Paris

Diesel dog that died in Paris raid 18.11.2015 – confirmed from French police

The hashtag is a follow up to the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie. #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie) was used by supporters of freedom of speech in the Charlie Hebdo (magazine offices) attacks on 7th January 2015.

Read more about the #JeSuisChien Twitter trend.

Make sure that when you use a #hashtag, you know what it stands for and what it resembles. Don’t jump in on hashtags without understanding what they mean. Use hashtags with positive intentions.

How should we use Social Media Respectfully in times of Terror?

Expressing personal and political opinions through social media (personal or business) can be a bit like opening up a can of worms. When tweeting and posting at politically volatile times, remember the following….

  • Post and Tweet respect and love, not anger and hate.
  • People will have lost loved ones – avoid saying anything presumptuous or that may upset them.
  • Avoid racially charged comments – people are people, treat them as such.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions without checking the facts.
  • Always have an understanding of what filters and hashtags mean and why you are using them.