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Hamas‘ militant wing keeps a frequently updated Facebook page and a multilanguage website. They tend to update reporters of rocket fire through an SMS distribution list.

Nader Elkhuzundar, a prolific 25-year-old Twitter user from Gaza, said the recent social media barrage reached “a new level of psychological war.”

Twitter gives us a voice, but there’s also a lot of misinformation at the same time. It’s a tool you need to be careful using because there’s a lot of noise out there,” he said.

Although there were tweets directed at the IDF’s Twitter account claiming that the Israeli government and military websites were hacked and taken down Thursday, the Israeli military denied it.

“The IDF blog was down for a very short period, less than hour in the afternoon, only due to heavy traffic,” according to Eytan Buchman, an Israeli military spokesman.

Israel’s ministry of public diplomacy also started a “Special Operations Center,” a virtual situation room of sorts, working with Israeli bloggers and volunteers to “get Israeli’s message out to the world virtually, to Arabs as well, through social media and other web platforms,” said spokesman Gal Ilan.

Tamir Sheafer, chair of the political communication program at Hebrew University, said the embrace of social media by both sides indicates recognition that “you don’t win conflicts like this one on the ground; you win it through public opinion.”

But the use of social media for public diplomacy is also a double-edged sword, says Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington.

“On the one hand, Israel has gotten better in conveying their messages to the public, but on the flip side, we’re seeing flippant remarks. Twitter accounts can be used carelessly and there’s a danger of overplaying things, which they might be doing,” he said.

“They also might be falling into the trap of thinking they have their public relations covered, but really, it’s their policy and not their tweets that matters at the end of the day,” Sachs added.

YouTube had removed the Hamas assassination video after concluding the clip violated its terms of service. The site’s reviewers later reconsidered that decision and restored the video Thursday.

“With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call,” YouTube said in a statement.

Buchman, the Israeli military spokesman, said there was no official comment, except that “we’re glad they reconsidered that decision.”

Google tries to ensure that the clips on YouTube obey disparate laws around the world and adhere to standards of decorum while also protecting the principles of free speech. It’s a mind-boggling task, given more than 100,000 hours of video is sent to YouTube every day.

YouTube routinely blocks video in specific countries if it violates local laws. It also removes video deemed to violate standards primarily designed to weed out videos that infringe copyrights, show pornography or contain “hate speech.”

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