Social media in conflict zones: Can you believe it?

The conflict between the Israelis and Hamas is on, with each side trying to breath down the neck of the other. Equally fierce is the war of hashtags in the social media world. 

With many western media organisations pulling their correspondents out of the war zone, not many bylined news stories are coming out of the Gaza strip. So, the Palestinian groups of various kinds are spreading rumours and half-truths about how the Israeli aggression is targeting civilians.  We are not saying that Israelis have been discreet about not hurting civilians. In fact, there have been numerous civilian casualties in the name of pounding the Hamas militia, and there must be bone-chilling, genuine, accounts of people suffering. But propagandists are not supposed to uncover the truth; they are there to spread untruth.

ISIS showed us how militia use social media to carry their tale. Hamas could not be an exception. On the other side, all governments use social media in a big way to garner support and sympathy to their cause. Israel is known to be using a huge army of social media users and professionals to bombard the social media with their messages and blunt the opposing view-points. But, being seen as brute, Israel is being outnumbered by Arab sympathizers, as of now.

Even journalists in today’s conflict zones do not seem to be discreet. There are many reports of journalists tweeting hearsays and unsubstantiated impressions of casualties, progress of conflict, damage etc.

Then there are a million social media propagators. They further disseminate whatever comes from the war zone, especially the Gaza side. Being agitated – and also believing that their actions will generate more support - they propagate the stories and statements far and wide. In social media, a message, especially when accompanied by a visual, gets instantly interpreted, commented upon, and disseminated. So, except for some peace-lovers and a bunch of cold analysts, every recipient of a message from the war zone participates in colouring and blowing it up. The more emotional a visual’s appeal, the more viral it gets. So, you can see many visuals of crying children, mutilated bodies and blood splattered clothes of the injured from both sides.

Twitter, as expected, is the main platform though activity is also seen on Facebook and minor social networks. There is a virtual war between hashtags such as #GazaUnderAttack,  #AJAGaza, #ICC4Israel and #FreeGaza on one side and #IsraelUnderFire on the other. These all have visuals showing how the other side is pounding homes and killing and seriously injuring innocents. 

The mainstream media is under pressure from the social media. In absence of enough verified reporting, it takes the course of using the social media route, sometimes using it in a crass manner and sometimes as a commentator on what social media is publishing.

There is a bloody war going on there, no doubt about that. Innocents are being killed and maimed - and you don't need proof for that. But we need to take with a pinch of salt, all that is being reported on the social media, even by supposed victims and journalists.

Social media updates

A number of notable things have taken place while we were busy compiling our Platinum Ranks – the topmost blogs in the Indian blogosphere. We were alive to these developments but could not share them with you. Thought, lets catch up. 


INDIAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICIANS EMBRACING SOCIAL MEDIA

Many government organisations and politicians have joined the social media, thanks to the push given and example set by Narendra Modi. 

Some Ministers have opened new accounts, mostly on Facebook, and some have oriented their content from political to ministry-related. You can now see Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Smriti Irani and even a low-profile Radha Mohan Singh regularly on Facebook.

Enforcement Directorate is also on Twitter!  The agency will give information on its activities including ‘notable actions taken against forex and money laundering offences’.

The President of India, who was already on Facebook, has opened a Twitter account. He (or his office) has been rather active on Twitter. Seeing the tweets, you feel that Indian President is one of the busiest heads of state on the earth.

abracabadra

Abracabadra
http://abracabadra.blogspot.com/


An inspirational blog with daily mantras, by Ruchira Khanna, an Indian blogger.

maverickbird

Maverickbird
http://maverickbird.com/




"Maverickbird is all about solo travels of an Indian woman backpacker and responsible, experiential trips. Colourful photos, amazing and intrepid experiences, helpful destination details and making friends all across the planet are the highlights of my travel memories so far."
- Svetlana Baghawan 

Blogging: from passion to dollars: Where do you stand?

Most bloggers the world over just blog. Their love for writing and/or clicking photos and sharing them on the blog keeps them going. They write about any topic that stokes their imagination - from ethereal matters to mundane daily life. They post photos, audio clips and videos of whatever they feel is worth sharing. They engage with other like-minded bloggers. Blogging is their love. Such bloggers make the bulk of the blogosphere.

The common bloggers often open a blog to satisfy the itch to share something more serious and permanent than posts on their Facebook or other social networking accounts. They feel they can write better than many others. They feel they have some special viewpoint on life-matters. They want to have a place where they can put their poems written over years or to share their views with the world whenever they are agitated with government's actions or something bad happening in the society. They keep the blogosphere buzzing, alive.

Then there are bloggers who confine fully or mostly to some selected themes such as their family, book reviews, fashion and food. Most of the times, these blogs are there because of passion of the blogger for the subject. 

Among category blogs, there are some that talk about a very narrow theme, e.g. a particular village, a species that needs conservation, a particular type of maths, a special software, ethnic cuisine of a tribal area... Their passion about the topic is amazing.

The other end of the spectrum: it's all money, honey!

A small section of bloggers maintain blogs to make money out of blogging. They use a blog to promote their merchandise or services. They write on food, review books, promote their own book, post travelogues, showcase photographs... There is an element of making money here, beyond the passion. 

The motive for having a blog goes to the other extreme when bloggers open blogs as means to make money, nothing else. No stupid passion here ;) This category of bloggers are much smarter when it comes to choosing the topic of the blog. Most often, they have turned blogging geeks; they have learnt how to get traffic on the blog, how to influence people to click on particular advertisements, how to monetise the blog. They do a lot of research on what topics and what keywords would beat competition and get them dollars. They also open blogs where they brag about their earnings so that more people get attracted to them, they get more traffic, they monetise another blog...

Where do you stand?

Do click here if you like to see what type of blogs we have on the Directory of Best Indian Blogs.

What to expect from Google domains?

Google has announced that it will start selling domains. What it means that it will let you buy domain names for a fee (around $10-12 per year) and also host them for you, of course for some more fee. Like other domain hosts, it will have tools and apps by which you will be able to manage your domains. By the announcement that Google has made, it is targeting small businesses.

Between the two major blogging platforms (Wordpress and Blogger), only Wordpress has an in-house hosting option. Blogger (blogging platform owned by Google) earlier had an arrangement, which it discontinued later on. There are many domain name registrars and hosts on the www, some reliable but many with poor track record.

We hope that this new introduction will help all site owners, especially bloggers, by creating new benchmark for service. Maybe, competition from this giant will also bring down prices.

Right now, the service is available by invitation only. (Remember, how they introduced gmail?) Good, because they will, in the meantime, fix problems and when they roll it out, it will be a stable and feature-rich service.

For those not familiar with purchase and hosting of domains, we have earlier published a 3-part series on ITB, starting with this post: Give your blog an independent domain name