Palatinate Web Whirl: Twitter Wars

by Hannah Watson

I am somewhat proud to say I still don’t have a Twitter account. While that may be a shocking confession of negligence for someone who is supposed to be clued up on all things internet, Twitter still seems to be dividing opinion amongst our generation.

Dirty looks all around are levelled at those who don’t have Facebook, yet many people I know won’t join the Twitter sphere for lack of ‘having something to say’. Whereas the other half have no problem in divulging to the world that they ate Marmite on toast for #breakfast, there’s something equally disconcerting and empowering about making your voice heard outside of the meagre few hundred friends you can reach on Facebook.

The world is enthralled when things get nasty on Twitter, with celebrity ‘Twitter Wars’ providing gossip column fodder in glossy magazines. It raises the interesting question, however, over when Twitter should start policing tweets.

Is it possible for a website which wishes to maintain a service which doesn’t editorialise to enforce a rulebook forbidding users to post violent or threatening tweets? When Twitter spats remain on the level of celebrity insults, we can all breathe easy.

Is it possible for a website which wishes to maintain a service which doesn’t editorialise to enforce a rulebook forbidding users to post violent or threatening tweets?

This week Twitter was used to wage a propaganda war between The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. Apparently sparked by the killing of Hamas’ military leader, the IDF uploaded a poster depicting Jabari’s ‘elimination’, inviting immediate retaliation. Thinly veiled threats, commentary on planned attacks and Youtube videos recording acts of violence have all been used as ammunition in the ensuing Twitter war. It is not the first time the conflict has raged in cyberspace, with the hacker group ‘Anonymous’ targeting several Israeli websites and calling followers via Twitter to do the same.

Should Twitter, Youtube and other websites remove the content posted or remain neutral to the reign of terror begun online? Certainly, it’s an answer they will have to decide for themselves very soon.

Image: Twitter

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