The Gaza Flotilla Battle – On Twitter

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[Reposting my Jewish Week article from this week...which features comments from none other than the noteworthy "ck." ]

The Gaza Flotilla Battle – On Twitter

Israeli forces approach one of six ships bound for Gaza in the Mediterranean.

Israeli forces approach one of six ships bound for Gaza in the Mediterranean.

Shaping public opinion on the Gaza blockade, 140 characters at a time.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Sharon Udasin, Staff Writer
Just moments after the Israeli navy boarded the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship in the Mediterranean en route to Gaza, an explosive battle of another kind was playing out on the Facebook and Twitter fronts.
The phrases “Gaza flotilla” and “#freedomflotilla” were among the three highest “trending topics” on Twitter on Monday morning, Eastern Standard Time. By Tuesday morning, “flotilla” still remained among the top 10.
“Your blood reached the shores of Gaza before your aid,” tweeted user Sarabughazal, at 2:23 a.m. on Monday, a message that was re-tweeted by other users throughout the day. It was a gory note from a pro-Palestinian activist, and indicative of the early traffic on the social networking site.
Another popular tweet was directed at the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, from early on, and also reappeared re-tweeted by many users: “@IDFSpokesperson nobody believes you. You know?”
Experts observed that early in the day, the tweets and Facebook streams were overwhelmingly one-sided, tilted toward the so-called peace activists attempting to penetrate Israel’s naval blockade. Only 12 hours into the social media uproar did the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit release its own evidence from the events, perhaps testing the limits of how social media can shape perceptions of world crises.
When terrorists struck Mumbai, YouTube eyewitnesses were there. When students protested elections in Iran, rebellious youth tweeted a live play-by-play from the streets. In both cases, the social networking sites seemed to be driving the story, out in front of traditional media.
But as cloudy versions of the “flotilla” story spread virally through Twitter and Facebook pages Monday morning, social media experts felt that site users were getting a less-than-accurate picture of what was going on, with little response at the time from the Israeli government.
“It’s not a discussion, it’s an outrageous attack on Israel, on what Israel did. Only a very small percentage of people are using facts,” said David Saranga, former media consul at the Consulate General for Israel in New York, who is now on a leave of absence from the Foreign Ministry to teach social media and diplomacy at IDC Herzliya. “All the rest are just condemning the fact that Israel attacked these ‘peace activists’ and the fact that Israel did it in the international water, not close to Gaza. They’re not basing what they’re saying on facts, but still it’s something that really shapes the discussion and the overall image of the events.”
Israelis, in his opinion, also tend to have a much stronger presence on Facebook than they do on Twitter — creating an automatic lag in information flow over that outlet. For Saranga, however, the blame for this alleged spread of misinformation didn’t lie solely with the Twitter users, but also within Israel.
“Right now, there is still no footage coming from Israel,” he said on midday Monday, before the IDF footage was released. “Almost 12 hours since the event started, there was no footage and pictures coming from the boats. And therefore it’s very hard to contradict because people want to see something.”
David Abitbol, Israeli Web connoisseur and founder of the blog Jewlicious.com (which this reporter contributes to), agreed, adding, “We didn’t get a rebuttal from Israel for hours. It was very, very late. They needed to speed things up a bit there. The diplomatic fallout was terrible. Ambassadors recalled, Greece suspending military exercises, demonstrations. All that happened before Israel released its videos. What took so long? That’s why the Twitter traffic was so one-sided.”
Israel, the observers agreed, was far behind its enemies’ voices in the online PR battle. And in Abitbol’s opinion, this time, traditional media drove the story. Instead of seeing tweets that relayed news and facts, Abitbol felt that the Twitter presence was largely “just one side’s militants yelling at the other side’s militants.”

Just moments after the Israeli navy boarded the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship in the Mediterranean en route to Gaza, an explosive battle of another kind was playing out on the Facebook and Twitter fronts.

The phrases “Gaza flotilla” and “#freedomflotilla” were among the three highest “trending topics” on Twitter on Monday morning, Eastern Standard Time. By Tuesday morning, “flotilla” still remained among the top 10.

“Your blood reached the shores of Gaza before your aid,” tweeted user Sarabughazal, at 2:23 a.m. on Monday, a message that was re-tweeted by other users throughout the day. It was a gory note from a pro-Palestinian activist, and indicative of the early traffic on the social networking site.

Another popular tweet was directed at the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, from early on, and also reappeared re-tweeted by many users: “@IDFSpokesperson nobody believes you. You know?”

Experts observed that early in the day, the tweets and Facebook streams were overwhelmingly one-sided, tilted toward the so-called peace activists attempting to penetrate Israel’s naval blockade. Only 12 hours into the social media uproar did the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit release its own evidence from the events, perhaps testing the limits of how social media can shape perceptions of world crises.

When terrorists struck Mumbai, YouTube eyewitnesses were there. When students protested elections in Iran, rebellious youth tweeted a live play-by-play from the streets. In both cases, the social networking sites seemed to be driving the story, out in front of traditional media.

But as cloudy versions of the “flotilla” story spread virally through Twitter and Facebook pages Monday morning, social media experts felt that site users were getting a less-than-accurate picture of what was going on, with little response at the time from the Israeli government.

“It’s not a discussion, it’s an outrageous attack on Israel, on what Israel did. Only a very small percentage of people are using facts,” said David Saranga, former media consul at the Consulate General for Israel in New York, who is now on a leave of absence from the Foreign Ministry to teach social media and diplomacy at IDC Herzliya. “All the rest are just condemning the fact that Israel attacked these ‘peace activists’ and the fact that Israel did it in the international water, not close to Gaza. They’re not basing what they’re saying on facts, but still it’s something that really shapes the discussion and the overall image of the events.”

Israelis, in his opinion, also tend to have a much stronger presence on Facebook than they do on Twitter — creating an automatic lag in information flow over that outlet. For Saranga, however, the blame for this alleged spread of misinformation didn’t lie solely with the Twitter users, but also within Israel.

“Right now, there is still no footage coming from Israel,” he said on midday Monday, before the IDF footage was released. “Almost 12 hours since the event started, there was no footage and pictures coming from the boats. And therefore it’s very hard to contradict because people want to see something.”

David Abitbol, Israeli Web connoisseur and founder of the blog Jewlicious.com (which this reporter contributes to), agreed, adding, “We didn’t get a rebuttal from Israel for hours. It was very, very late. They needed to speed things up a bit there. The diplomatic fallout was terrible. Ambassadors recalled, Greece suspending military exercises, demonstrations. All that happened before Israel released its videos. What took so long? That’s why the Twitter traffic was so one-sided.”

Israel, the observers agreed, was far behind its enemies’ voices in the online PR battle. And in Abitbol’s opinion, this time, traditional media drove the story. Instead of seeing tweets that relayed news and facts, Abitbol felt that the Twitter presence was largely “just one side’s militants yelling at the other side’s militants.”  Continue reading…

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Sharon Udasin is a staff writer at The Jewish Week. Follow her on Twitter or e-mail her at sharon@sharonudasin.com.


5 Comments

  1. uncle joe mccarthy

    6/2/2010 at 5:25 pm

    so the idf now needs a twitter account?

    wouldnt have mattered if the idf live streamed their landing…the terror loving peoples are saying that the eye witness accounts are fact….so damn the video evidence.

  2. BUTSeriously

    6/2/2010 at 10:02 pm

    Israel must not bow to the international lynch mob. Gaza, Hebron and Jerusaslem are 100% factual Jewish lands [check some history if in confusion], and those who call a 3-state as a 2-state are criminals doing Heil Hitler salutes against Israel. Do the math:

    “IT WILL BE A HISTORIC COMPROMISE TO GRANT TWO STATES IN PALESTINE – ONE FOR THE JEWS AND ONE FOR THE ARABS” – Churchill, on the creation of the ficticious state called Jordan.

    That corruption of the Balfour Mandate was not just an immoral deed – it was and remains 100% illegal, perpetrated when the Jews were totally helpless following W.W.II. Those who again call a 3-state as a 2-state in the same tiny land today are criminals. A Mandate is not negotiable – it was corrupted for 30 barrels of oil. At least the Nazis were honest about it.

    The name Palestine was dumped by Rome on the Jewish homeland of Judea – not an Islamic or Arab land. This falsehood was again perpetrated with an agenda in mind. What’s next – Muslim Zionists being persecuted by Israel?

    The terror ship, made of die-hard anti-Israel activists, backed by Islamic terror orgs – is supported by Hamas, Turkey and Iran, after these two made a charade in their nuclear pact – this is their deflection strategy. Why is there no demand for an investigation of the other side – is it because the Islamists are not involved in terror around the globe!?

    FACT # 1:

    JEWS HAVE NEVER OCCUPIED ANYONE’S LAND IN ALL THEIR 4000 YEAR HISTORY.

  3. Maria

    6/3/2010 at 12:09 am

    Did you know that just the week before Egypt GASSED and killed Palestinians in a smuggling tunnel? They were trapped and gassed. It was in the the Egyptian AP;

    youtube.com/wa...

    Where is the world’s outrage over that?

  4. BUTSeriously

    6/3/2010 at 12:33 am

    A terror ship in international waters is – surprise, surprise – a terror ship. Take a look at the so-called peace and aid folk before they boarded their peace ship:

  5. THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL

    6/7/2010 at 5:59 pm

    JESUS IS LORD, and believe in your heart that GOD raised HIM from the dead, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Refer to THE HOLY BIBLE: ROMANS 10:9 and ACTS 16:31)

    Have you received THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL’S MOST BELOVED and ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, to be your personal Lord and Savior?

    If not, say this prayer: “LORD GOD, please forgive me of my sins. Thank YOU for YOUR Faithfulness in always being with me and loving me so much to send me YOUR MOST BELOVED and ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, to die on the cross for me. I receive HIM now into my heart and life to be my Lord and Savior. Please send and fill me with YOUR HOLY SPIRIT. I pray this in the name of GOD, THE FATHER; GOD, THE SON; and GOD, THE HOLY SPIRIT. † Amen.”

    “And they said, Believe on THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” ACTS 16:31

    “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that GOD has made this JESUS, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” ACTS 2:36

    If you haven’t already done so, start praying to THE LORD GOD daily; Start reading THE HOLY BIBLE daily; and Start attending a CHRIST-based church regularly.

    To fulfill your purpose on Earth and with ME, teach and share this with everyone you know and care about: BIBLEstudycd.c...

    Share this communication with all you know. May you be blessed abundantly!

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