Pictures grabbed from Twitter and edited using Pixlr

The three dangerous trends I’ve noticed when the Paris Attacks happened

and all of them have something or the other to do with Social Media and would surely lead to the wrong usage of the online’s powerful tools

What happened in Paris on 13th of this month is something that will stay with all of us forever. It is heart-wrenching. It is inhumane. In this context, how people had reacted on the Social Media is also something that we should look at. Social Media had played a very important role this time, both in a good and in a bad way, and these are the three main trends I have observed that are completely unnecessary, dangerous to the world in general and hence, should be avoided.

  1. The argument that everyone is talking about Paris but no one is talking about the attacks in Beirut and other places that had happened before the Paris attacks.
  2. The spreading of rumours both vocally and also through images that were not only irrelevant to the event but also misleading.
  3. The fact that we, the people, act irrationally, and some even act to satisfy their own egos and thus, we hinder the people who are really in need from benefiting from the social media.

Everyone is talking about those other attacks. It’s just that you are not seeing.

There have been, and still are, several people posting on Facebook and tweeting on Twitter that the media, and in fact the whole world, is being unfair that they are worried, concerned and sympathised at the Paris attacks but no one is even mentioning the bomb blasts that have happened in Beirut two days before, on the 11th. But a search on Google shows that all the major outlets have covered the news.

BBC with even pictures.
Al Jazeera and where they even take the experiences of the poeple.
Daily Mail UK with videos.
The Guardian and
The Telegraph UK with videos.
PRI which has focussed on the courageous sacrifice of a man who tackled the bomber and exploded together saving many poeple.

Note that all these are the media coverages that have happened on 11th and 12th, so before Paris attacks took place and hence were not affected by the pressure of the world to show these events. All of these feature pictures, videos and experiences of the victims, not just mere mentions.

If you are posting on social media that no one is mentioning them, and that no media outlet has covered these attacks, then it shows that you did not even try to find if any media outlet has covered it. If you wanted people to talk about these attacks, did YOU talk about this on YOUR social media pages when these happened?

Do not spread rumours that encourage misconceptions.

Claire Wardle of First Draft has written an awesome article on how rumours spread during the events like this should be controlled in real time.

Many of the pictures shared on Facebook and Twitter were misleading:

copied from First Draft’s article mentioned above

This picture was rumoured to be taken on the day of Paris attacks but it was in fact taken from January’s attack on Charlie Hebdo.

The same is true with the rumours that the Eiffel Tower had gone dark in lieu of the attacks but in fact, it goes dark every night at 1am.

There have been several instances like this, not only on the 13th but also before that, where people seeking recognition and ‘Likes and Comments’ have resorted to actions like these. Posting such pictures on the 13th might not have had serious repurcusions in this context but this may be dangerous to some poeple in a different context. Imagine if a picture of sensitive nature related to refugees surfaces in a completely different context where its meaning is interpreted in a completely different sense, it may spark hatred in certain parts of the society against the refugees. The problems the world has already are enough; dont spark new ones.

How we have rendered #PorteOuverte useless.

#PorteOuverte is the hashtag that was started on the Twitter on the 13th to help the people who were affected by the attacks find shelter in the close-by neighbourhoods. Good samaritans, good Parisians, have used this hashtag meaning ‘Open Door’ to let strangers in and provide food and bed to help them. This is a very good and humane thing. We all wanted to share this as much as possible so that the people who were in real need can benefit from this.

So what did we do? We started tweeting with this hashtag. That is good. But as you can imagine, it clouded the real tweets where someone who is offering help or someone who really needs food and bed had tweeted. There were 632,202 tweets using the hashtag #PorteOuverte (rough figures and prone to errors by the tool used). I don't really think 632,202 people were really either offering help or needing help. So, almost 95% of them were tweeting to inform about the very hashtag that they were making unusable. Why?

Because we want to help others? Yes, I agree to some extent. But we also need to understand that we need to act rationally in such a case. You can argue that that was an emotionally intense moment and we as humans do not act rationally in such cases. Yes, I agree but there were also poeple who were tweeting not to use the hashtag #PorteOuverte and clutter the real stream but instead use different versions such as # PorteOuverte or #Porte Ouverte to share information. But # PorteOuverte was tweeted 13,961 times where even celebrities such as Sophia Bush has requested not to clutter the actual hashtag and #Porte Ouverte was used merely 307 times. Even I did the same mistake before realising.

So why did we do this? I can think of two reasons.

  1. We wanted to show our followers that we care.
  2. We wanted to get new followers who might follow us or like our tweets if we use this hashtag and get seen by them.

All these show our need to garner attraction and satisfy our own ego. This is a common phenomenon we are seeing in the social media world today; the need to stay in the front of every social media page and to increase new followers. Where quantity matters more than the quality, there is a serious problem. Where we use social media to satisfy our own egos instead of to really help others, there is a serious problem.

P.S. While I would very much appreciate your views and feedback on this post, please refrain from trolling. I don't mind opposing views and contradictions; I in fact welcome them because that is how we develop knowledge and become more intelligent. But please dont troll and keep Medium a better place.

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