January 5, 2009
Twitter's been in the news repeatedly recently for its emergence as a news source of sorts. It exploded on the scene during the Mumbai bombings in India after simmering during the election and the earthquake in China earlier this year.
Now, it's making waves again, this time as Israel and those sympathetic to its cause wage the battle of words against Hamas and those not so sympathetic to Israel's course of action in Gaza. Last Tuesday, the Israeli consulate in New York held a question and answer session on Twitter (from the screen name israelconsulate) that was open to anyone with a Twitter account. During the Q&A, Israel was subject to -- and answered or at least dodged -- tough questions about the effectiveness of military action, whether the conflict was tied to upcoming Israeli elections, Hamas' role as an elected government, conditions for a cease-fire, and even pointed attacks accusing Israel of Nazi-like tactics. From another point of view, Al Jazeera has set up a Twitter account called AJGaza and is affixing text topic identifiers, called hashtags, that are marked #Gaza, to all of its posts. Recent posts highlight President-elect Barack Obama's reaction to the crisis, near real-time reports on explosions and fighting around Gaza, and updates on the Gaza death tolls. Another account, QassamCount, tallies Qassam rockets fired into Israel by Hamas. Overall, tweets labeled with the #Gaza hash are flowing in at a blistering pace with viewpoints and news updates from all sides in the conflict. Twitter is only one of several social media sites tracking the conflict beyond the view of television and print media. Social media search engines like WhosTalkin and Social Mention turn up reams of online conversation about the conflict.
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