(Image source: @IDFSpokesperson / Twitter)

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
ANCHOR ZACH TOOMBS


Is this the first time Twitter has been used to threaten war?

Shortly before the rocket attack that killed Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari, the Israeli Defense Force announced the offensive in 136 characters.

It then followed up by naming the operation and creating its own hashtag, Pillar of Defense, or Pillar of Cloud for Hebrew speakers, then posted a video of the first attack, a rocket blowing up a car carrying al-Jabari.

Not to be outdone, Al Qassam Brigade, the military arm of Hamas, posted its own Twitter response, saying the IDF had opened the gates of hell on itself.

What followed could only have happened in the 21st century — both sides essentially live tweeting the war, with Hamas broadcasting its rocket attacks against Israel and showing pictures of Palestinian children allegedly killed by the IDF and the IDF announcing strikes in Gaza and tallying how many rockets the Iron Dome missile defense system had intercepted.

If the idea of watching a war live on Twitter seems a little weird to you, you’re not alone. A writer for Popular Science says:

“Remember when Twitter was silly? … It's not that anymore. Now it's the place where one of the strongest militaries in the world tells us what they're bombing today.”

A writer for Forbes added: “If it wasn’t clear before, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube can be used as weapons. This is one of the most explicit examples of that.”

But there’s a bigger question here: why would Israel give real-time updates of its activities on the ground? Isn’t that a strategic blunder? A writer for TechCrunch says — not so.

“Rather than have media outlets report the story through embedded journalists and trusted sources, all of the early information is streaming directly from IDF’s (admittedly biased) information feed. Nuggets of propaganda are skillfully sandwiched in between key military strikes”

By putting the information out first itself, the IDF is able to get its spin on events almost instantly. It could be an incredibly powerful way to influence public opinion, and a writer for Wired says that’s exactly what Israel needs.

“Israel also finds itself in a singular position, geopolitically. Its most consistent ally in the region, the Mubarak regime in Cairo, was overthrown last year and replaced by an Islamist government. … The need to shape international opinion and rally supporters internationally is acute.”

But there may be one problem with the nearly-literal Twitter war.

AllThingsD notes explicit threats, like the IDF warning Hamas leaders not to show their face above ground, are against Twitter’s terms of service. Though Twitter hasn’t intervened yet, the situation puts them in an awkward position.

The online battle may continue, as Israel has said the real-life battle will continue as long as Hamas keeps launching rockets.

War in the 21st Century: Israel Live Tweets Gaza Offensive

by Steven Sparkman
3
Transcript
Nov 14, 2012

War in the 21st Century: Israel Live Tweets Gaza Offensive

 

(Image source: @IDFSpokesperson / Twitter)

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
ANCHOR ZACH TOOMBS


Is this the first time Twitter has been used to threaten war?

Shortly before the rocket attack that killed Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari, the Israeli Defense Force announced the offensive in 136 characters.

It then followed up by naming the operation and creating its own hashtag, Pillar of Defense, or Pillar of Cloud for Hebrew speakers, then posted a video of the first attack, a rocket blowing up a car carrying al-Jabari.

Not to be outdone, Al Qassam Brigade, the military arm of Hamas, posted its own Twitter response, saying the IDF had opened the gates of hell on itself.

What followed could only have happened in the 21st century — both sides essentially live tweeting the war, with Hamas broadcasting its rocket attacks against Israel and showing pictures of Palestinian children allegedly killed by the IDF and the IDF announcing strikes in Gaza and tallying how many rockets the Iron Dome missile defense system had intercepted.

If the idea of watching a war live on Twitter seems a little weird to you, you’re not alone. A writer for Popular Science says:

“Remember when Twitter was silly? … It's not that anymore. Now it's the place where one of the strongest militaries in the world tells us what they're bombing today.”

A writer for Forbes added: “If it wasn’t clear before, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube can be used as weapons. This is one of the most explicit examples of that.”

But there’s a bigger question here: why would Israel give real-time updates of its activities on the ground? Isn’t that a strategic blunder? A writer for TechCrunch says — not so.

“Rather than have media outlets report the story through embedded journalists and trusted sources, all of the early information is streaming directly from IDF’s (admittedly biased) information feed. Nuggets of propaganda are skillfully sandwiched in between key military strikes”

By putting the information out first itself, the IDF is able to get its spin on events almost instantly. It could be an incredibly powerful way to influence public opinion, and a writer for Wired says that’s exactly what Israel needs.

“Israel also finds itself in a singular position, geopolitically. Its most consistent ally in the region, the Mubarak regime in Cairo, was overthrown last year and replaced by an Islamist government. … The need to shape international opinion and rally supporters internationally is acute.”

But there may be one problem with the nearly-literal Twitter war.

AllThingsD notes explicit threats, like the IDF warning Hamas leaders not to show their face above ground, are against Twitter’s terms of service. Though Twitter hasn’t intervened yet, the situation puts them in an awkward position.

The online battle may continue, as Israel has said the real-life battle will continue as long as Hamas keeps launching rockets.

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