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 Social Media: The new propaganda war tool 

 
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LYSE DOUCET, BBC CORRESPONDENT: Conflicts Conflicts in the Middle East run along very old lines. The Israeli Palestinian conflict conflict goes back goes back decades. Tensions between Shias and Sunnis go back go back centuries. And they are boiling over in Iraq and Syria and beyond. beyond.

But a new fault line has emerged emerged in recent years, Social Media. Cyber battles are now changing the age old conflicts conflicts between the people in power and the power of the people. Most of us use these tools now. For some, they are weapons, to start a revolution, revolution, to wage wage a war.

The power of social media was mobilized in 2009 in Iran's failed Green Revolution Revolution and then in the historic uprisings uprisings withhold withhold the Arab Spring. They started in Tunisia, went to Egypt and across the region. It's not just activists who recognize this power, government's regimes regimes use it too.

In Syria, for example, the Syrian Electronic Army is described as described as the first Virtual Arab Army. It hacks hacks into websites of the opposition, Western Media and Human Rights Groups. In real wars, social media has become a weapon in every armory.

In the Gaza war, Israel is turning to it to take the high ground. To deny, deny, they targeted civilians in a school to make it clear Hamas is the aggressor. aggressor.

There's even a clever app that allows you to imagine the range of these rockets, wherever you are. The narrative narrative is carried by many people on many fronts. University volunteers volunteers join the effort. effort.

UNIVERSITY VOLUNTEER: VOLUNTEER: A large portion of our efforts efforts is trying to comment and talk back talk back on articles and posts that are for a Palestinian and anti Israel. We do it both on Facebook and Twitter and also websites and articles that we find. Right now, the war is not only in the front, it's also a lot in the media.

LYSE DOUCET: But Hamas is on this frontline too. Videos from their tunnels are widely widely available available on video sharing sites like Youtube and they are active on twitter too. They've released guidelines on how Gazans should use Twitter to report Israeli assaults. assaults. But Israel is an old hand in hand in this information war, with an army of savvy spokespersons, coached by the best in the business.

SOURCE: FRANK LUNTZ, "The Israel Project Global Language Dictionary.": "Persuadables won't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show empathy empathy for both sides."

LYSE DOUCET: But as the old saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." In the Gaza war, so stronger the images, they're worth millions of words.

But it's the images used by the most violent groups that have no compare and that's the point. Videos released by ISIS in Syria and Iraq are meant meant to shock and they do. Images like young Shia soldiers in Iraq being led away and executed on mass are the latest to emerge. emerge.

UNIDENTIFIED EXPERT: On the one hand On the one hand they're doing it to scare a target audience, which in this case is specifically specifically Iraqi soldiers, who are trying to fight against them. I think on the other hand on the other hand it has an element of recruitment. You're trying to attract people. You're showing you're very strong, you're showing you control this territory territory and do these things to these people. I think that a fine element, which is very interesting and is, may be more particular particular to ISIS is this idea of showing extreme extreme brutality brutality and using that to draw people in.

LYSE DOUCET: Across the Middle East, conflicts conflicts are merging merging in some ways remain remain distinct distinct in others. But when it comes to the battle that hurts in minds, even the most asymmetric wars are being fought with at least one weapon now available available to all.


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