December 31, 2008 by Ryan Joy
Israel is making full use of social media to sway public opinion and convince the world at large that their offensive in Gaza is a justifiable response to the constant missiles being rained upon them from Hamas-controlled territories. (I’m not going to debate whether they’re correct or not. I’m just listing the social media tools Israel is employing. I feel macabre writing about SM in this environ and I sincerely hope the current conflict ends soon.)
There is also the Israel Defense Forces’ Spokesperson’s Unit YouTube channel with videos of precision-targeted air strikes on purported Hamas missile facilities and smuggling tunnels inside Gaza. So far 16 videos have been uploaded and there are more being added as they become available.
Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (or his office) is twittering via @Netanyahu (if you speak Hebrew).
Israel’s push into social media seems to mostly be due to David Saranga who Wikipedia lists as the Israeli Consul for Media and Public Affairs and credits with being the “first diplomat who implemented Web 2.0 governmental initiatives, including the first official blog of a country, a MySpace page, YouTube channel, Facebook page and a political blog.” It’s unclear if Mr. Saranga is responsible for getting the IDF YouTube page and Mr. Netanyahu’s office to embrace these alternate medias as well.
I can’t think of another time social media has been used by a State to press their case. For better or worse, it’s propaganda and lobbying on the public at large. But the difference here is the engagement in dialogue vs. the typical official statements and video releases.
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