Social media activism has grown exponentially in recent years and the current conflict in Gaza has proven just how effective online networks are in pushing out vital information. While not everyone knows the “ins and outs” of social media, the past month has seen an upsurge in older people getting to grips with the internet in order to inform and educate themselves on what’s happening in the Middle East.
One of the most critical sources of news is Twitter, which provides ‘real-time’ information and updates from all over the world. Researcher at the Media Review Network (MRN), Suraya Dadoo says there are a number of twitter accounts that one can follow, one of them being the social media account for the MRN.
“It shares a lot of local and international news around the Palestinian issue which can be followed by @MRN1SA. Another account which also gives good information and is very important for those who are concentrating on the boycott movement is @BDSsouthafrica,” added Dadoo.
The above mentioned accounts are a good way to get clued up in terms of what is happening with Palestinian solidarity in South Africa, on the international scene as well as the latest news out of Israel, the West Bank, East Jerusalem as well as Gaza.
Dadoo said the important aspect to note about twitter is the hashtag # which allows other people to find tweets all related to the same issue.
“For example on Saturday 9 August everyone will be tweeting pictures and reports on the ground about the very historic march taking place in Cape Town. And what I would tell people is whenever you tweet, to use the #samarch4gaza,” explained Dadoo.
She said that the hashtag #samarch4gaza allows other people to find a specific tweet in relation to the march which they can then retweet and use the picture.
The downside of Twitter is the fact that any updates should be 140 characters. However, it is an excellent medium to get out a message instantaneously and allows one to communicate with just about anyone.
“The importance of Twitter allows one access to people, media journalists and politicians and in terms of Palestine, it allows one to interact with people on the ground.”
For the most part, the general public have depended greatly on this medium for a better understanding of the current events in Gaza.
Dadoo also Facebook and Youtube was more effective in posting photos and videos for the world to see.
“So if you cannot type a tweet or message only using 140 characters there are other ways to be active on social media by using either BBM or Whatsapp to take messages from other mediums such as Twitter and Facebook and broadcast it on the more user friendly BBM and Whatsapp.”
One of the pitfalls of these forms of media is that it sometimes spreads incorrect information just as rapidly.
However, Dadoo added that all the mediums are almost always interconnected, which assists the sharing of information from one social application to the other. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)