21st century wars are being fought with 21st media. It has been widely reported in the traditional print and broadcast media that Israel is using microbloging on Twitter and longer video releases on YouTube to promote its view of the war against the terror organization of Hamas. This was most probably prompted, in part, by the use of these same mechanisms by Hamas. The Israeli Defense forces have their own YouTube channel for their reports of the war.
This is the second major world event in which Twittered Tweet accounts played an important role in informing, debating, crafting and influencing the mainstream media. The other one I am referring to is of course the horrific terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. In that instance, there were real-time first hand accounts of the attacks.
Another less publicized example was the December 21st crash of a Continental airliner in Denver. One passenger , Mike Scott, gave a real time account of crashing. Personally, I would have other things to be thinking about at such a time.
What does lack of access really mean in a Mobile Web 2.0 world? Words, Text, Pictures and Video will flow in real time from anywhere that has mobile or Internet service.
If I were a savvy reporter for CNN, I would monitor these accounts from 100s (if not 1000s) of sources and use them as pieces of a larger jigsaw puzzle. A big plus is that it is a lot safer to watch your laptop screen for the war accounts then don a flak jacket and wander into harms way! Social Media can provide a view of any event, but it is not the complete story.
There is no substitute for journalistic professionals on the ground, flak jackets and all.
Some examples of the microblogging barrage in the war include:
News Tweets from Al Jazeera via account AJGaza on the Arab point of view
And lastly, a Twitter micro-blog with various points of view called Gazafacts
There are recent accounts of Twitter accounts being disabled as unnamed people or organizations launched denial of service attacks in the Twitter #Gaza channels. So, not only is Twitter a tool for both sides in this war, it is being attacked for being that broadcast mechanism.
I searched several of the social media sites (Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube) for Gaza, Hamas and Israel. My conclusion is, despite Israel’s launch of an IDF channel on YouTube, the bulk of Web2.0 content is very negative towards Israel. Given this reality, it is easy o understand the need Israel has to promote their own view on social media networks.
It is clear that all forms of Web 2.o media will play major roles in future world events. Managing the social media channels will be as important as managing traditional television and print media in influencing public opinion. Similar to a Qassam rocket, Web 2.0 provides a mechanism for waging asymmetric warfare.
If you don’t like what’s being said, just join in on the conversation.
Note: The author’s Twitter account is njspence