After the beheading of journalist James Foley by the terrorist group ISIS, social-media platforms like Twitter and YouTube are cracking down on the sharing of images and video of his death. But should they be the ones who decide what we can see and what we can’t?
Political commentator Ronan Farrow says that social networks like Twitter and Facebook should do more to police violent content from terrorist groups — but who gets to draw the line between free speech and hate speech, or choose which content should disappear forever?
Iraq has joined the growing list of nations whose governments have made the move into online video, with the launch of the Iraqi Government channel on YouTube (s GOOG). In his first address on the new video channel, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said the Iraqi government will use its YouTube presence to connect to various international communities and viewers interested in following issues that the government faces in rebuilding the country.
“In the interest of enabling the Iraqi government and the National Media Center to use technology and advanced methods of communications and to present our message to other peoples, and in particular with the Iraqi people at home and abroad, the National Media Center has created the Iraqi channel on YouTube, a new and advanced method of communication,” al-Maliki said.
Updated: You can say this for our current commander-in-chief: He’s got great reflexes. During a press conference on Saturday, Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi, a reporter with Cairo-based network Al Baghdadia Television, hurled his shoes at President Bush, who ducked the size-10 loafers pretty nimbly.
According to Matt Fiorentino at Visible Measures, which tracks the consumption and distribution of online video, as of today at 11 am EST there were over 550 copies of the video online with more than 3.7 million views and 38,000 comments. “It appears to be growing at a rate of more than 100 thousand views per hour,” Fiorentino says.
UPDATE: Visible Measures sent us another set of stats on the video. As of 4:30 p.m. EST, there were over 650 copies of the video that have generated more than 5.4 million views and 48,000 comments.
Al Baghdadia bureau chief Fityan Mohammed has not been able to make contact with Al-Zaidi since the shoe-hurling incident: “His phone is switched off,” Mohammed told the BBC. Al-Zaidi may have had more reason than most to be agitated by the current situation in Iraq: he was kidnapped and beaten by Shiite minutemen last year.
The press has been quick to point out that in Iraqi culture, throwing your shoes at someone is considered a grave insult. Though, as Boing Boing points out, how much danger was there of it being interpreted as a sign of friendship?