Social media has had a rude awakening this week. Being party to a revolution—peaceful or otherwise—is one thing. Civil war is another. But a conflict between two countries—or, to be exact, one country and one hotly disputed territory, is something else—as Twitter is discovering.
Both sides in the current Gaza conflict are using the Internet as a weapon, although the IDF is taking the propaganda war to almost every conceivable network. It's currently on Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and Pinterest, with some of its soldiers having separate Facebook accounts. If, however, you want to put a sham-glam fake patina on the situation, try browsing through the Instagram photos from IDF soldiers.
Threats are not allowed in either Twitter or Facebook's terms of service, as a post on AllThingsD points out. It's hard not to see statements from one side suggesting that Hamas operatives lie low, and the other side suggesting their opponents open "Hell Gates" on themselves, as a threat.
As Twitter becomes bloodier by the minute, with gruesome photos of the dead and injured being posted online, the firm's bosses are caught between the rock of freedom of speech and the hard place of threatening behavior and incitements to violence. It cannot be much fun to be in their shoes right now. Yesterday, there were reports that the @IDFspokesperson account had been suspended for 40 minutes, but Twitter refused to confirm or deny it.
One thing is for sure, however. This is about as anti-social as social media gets.