Tech tools called to duty in modern warfare: Israel vs. Hamas

Modern warfare just got real.

Israel not only live-tweeted its attack Wednesday on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, it uploaded a video to YouTube showing the strike that killed Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari. Wired reports that the Israel Defense Forces also has taken its online assault to Facebook and Flickr — using tech tools left and right as it seeks to shape opinion about the longstanding conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. The already deadly airstrikes begun yesterday continue today.

At one point yesterday, @IDFspokesperson tweeted: “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.”

The Hamas military, tweeting under @AlqassamBrigade, responded: “Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves).”

Last year, social media played a role in the Arab Spring, helping protesters in Egypt and elsewhere organize and fight oppressive governments. Now, social media and other online services are evolving into tools of war.

Will Twitter et al put a stop to it all? As AllThingsD points out, the terms of service of Twitter and Facebook frown on violence, although Facebook said it would not “take action on the current content posted.” Both companies have engaged in censorship at one time or another, from disabling an account that showed breasfeeding moms to deleting anti-Semitic tweets. In September, Google removed an anti-Islamic video from YouTube in certain countries.

But there will be different interpretations about whether the IDF’s online campaign constitutes condoning or inciting violence, or whether it is simply distributing news — biased though it may be. The information back-and-forth between IDF and Hamas military arm Al Qassam certainly seems to cut traditional news coverage from the equation — as GigaOm writes, “armies [have] become media entities.” All this obviously doesn’t negate the need for outside media to report and provide context for the information the warring sides are disseminating. Besides taking social media and other online services into uncharted territory, this conflict opens a whole new era in war reporting.


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  • sd

    Interesting times. War propaganda has moved into the 21st Century.