Tag Archives: ISIS

#PeaceforParis

On Friday, November 13th, ISIS terrorists attacked a stadium, a theatre, and least two restaurants in Paris, France. Six attacks in total occurred claiming more than 100 lives, some of which were missing at the beginning of the investigation. Social media such as Twitter and Facebook helped to save lives and show support on Friday, using hashtags and inserting the French flag into profile picture. Social media played a huge impact in this horrific event, but without social media, the attacks could have been much worse.

Melanie Marten, my cousin, who lives in Paris, France. She shows her support by inserting the French flag into her Facebook profile picture. Photo from Facebook
Melanie Marten, my cousin, who lives in Paris, France. She shows her support by inserting the French flag into her Facebook profile picture. Photo from Facebook.

The night of the attack, a hostage inside the stadium, in which 100 hostages were being held captive, used Facebook to post what was happening during the attack, essentially telling the French police to raid the place because the terrorists were killing the “one by one.” Facebook allowed for the hostages to communicate with the outside world, getting the help faster than without social media. The hostage, obviously, didn’t want to talk on the phone in fear of being caught. With social media, they didn’t have to.

After the attacks ended, people in France were using the hashtag “ #rechercheParis” which translates to “ search Paris,” to find each other through the panic, chaos, and sadly, carnage. “More than 100 tweets per minute used the hashtag, according to Twitter’s data. And by Saturday evening, more than 64,000 tweets had used #rechercheParis.” The hashtag #PorteOuverte (open door) was used on Twitter to let people know that they had a place to stay if they had nowhere to go. People using this hashtag were offering up their house as a place to stay. Twitter allowed for communication to happen all throughout Paris in a quick and easy way, making it unknown to all French people what was happening and what their option were. No other form of communication would have been that quick or reached that many people.

Social media, potentially, saved many people’s lives by informing them of what was going on and what option they had to stay away from the terrorist attack. Twitter and Facebook allowed for the knowledge of what was happening inside the stadium to go to the police and created a community for people who had endured the attack or those who were affected by it. This is why technology is important in the world and should never been limited or taken away.

Art under attack

Rape, murder, and arson flood the airwaves. Flagrant disregard for the sanctity of human life clog television screens. Iraq and Syria are buried in rubble, and perched on top of the ruins like flocks of vultures is the Islamic State. Dust from destroyed homes, places of worship, and businesses coats everything in a fine gritty film. The landscape is so foreign it might as well be the moon.

Sadly, it’s not just modern trappings of domesticity that have been incinerated by ISIS’ vicious wave of terror. Mixed amongst glass windows, steel beams, and cement cinderblocks are millennia of priceless relics from the ancient world. For nigh on a year, Islamic State militants have been toppling, drilling, and torching irreplaceable pieces of art all over Syria and Iraq.

art under attack
“Mixed amongst glass windows, steel beams, and cement cinderblocks are millennia of priceless relics from the ancient world.”

Only last month in August, ISIS succeeded in blowing up the best preserved temple in Palmyra, Syria; which had previously survived almost 2,000 years of turmoil. The story for other artifacts is similar. Statues, reliefs, paintings all had managed to withstand the brutal tests of time; holding out against wars, erosion, and the black market. Monuments to the awe inspiring color and complexity of the Ancient Near East decimated where they reside. Museums and their staff bombed, ties to our collective past shredded. The horrors being committed by these religious extremists are numerous and unspeakable. The devastation and despair being inflicted onto hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians can not be understated. Flesh and blood are worth more than limestone and lapis lazuli ever will. However, when the basic principles of our collective humanity are being systematically turned into gravel, when the bedrock of our past and the eyeglass to our future lies in potholes, and the world’s heritage is actively threatened  by men who are so frightened of the idea of a world where things are not black and white that they are willing to kill the scholars who protect the greyscale? Then we as a global community must come together.

Dr. Khaled al- As’ad was a world renowned Syrian professor of antiquities, who spent his entire career preserving the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra. When ISIS demanded he lead them to the temple’s greatest treasures, the 82 year old refused. Khaled al- As’ad was beheaded on August 19, 2015 for protecting the past, maintaining the present, and ultimately, preserving the future for generations to come.

Law, order, and video game ISIS

Gaming has always been that one habit that people are hesitant to tell others about. It’s mostly because the default image that pops in a non-gamer’s head is that of a fat kid with an overabundance of Doritos and Mountain Dew raging at his TV screen. Whether they’re bragging about the things they’ve done with your mom, or tripping over themselves at the first girl who hops in a game lobby, gamers aren’t well liked by a great number of demographics.

It doesn’t help that every time a shooting happens, the news media tries to find which violent video game to point to as a possible motivator for such an act. In fact, the media as a whole doesn’t seem to understand gaming at all–and when it tries, it seems to miss the mark every single time.

A recent “Law & Order” episode aired, loosely based on the events of what has been dubbed Gamergate. It’s a scandal that involves accusations of both misogyny and journalistic ethics. It’s a topic that deserves further explanation, but I’ll do so after you watch the episode.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7faUHdlh9g

Putting aside the fact that they felt the need to use and explain just about every outdated and unused piece of gamer lingo, this episode tried to take on way too much. Granted,  Gamergate is a monster of an issue to tackle with multiple facets that someone from the outside would never understand.

To grossly oversimplify, the actual Gamergate started after evidence came out that a Kotaku reviewer had given a game good review because of an intimate relationship he had with the developer. It raised questions about corruption in gaming journalism, due to the fact that many large game developers have been known to give sponsorships and other gifts to entice positive reviews.

It then devolved into an issue of trading sex for coverage, after a writer put out a prolonged blog post about how his ex-girlfriend Zoe Quinn had cheated on him with another writer. As a natural internet reaction to this blog post, people began to question if this is true for all female game developers.It further descended into madness from there.

New characters started to spawn into the Gamergate battlefield after feminist blogger Anita Sarkeesian took this opportunity to criticize the gaming community and the culture that surrounds it. She made the points that games often portray women in scantily-clad clothing or as supporting roles for the male protagonists. In doing so, she inadvertently generalized gamers as sexists, largely due to what they are exposed to in games.

As one could imagine, gamers didn’t like being labeled, and she became a vilified character among the community–but championed by many feminists who have long held the idea that video games aren’t a safe place for women. It got worse, however, when Sarkeesian began receiving death threats that prevented her from speaking at several events. This helped to serve her point that gamers are these monsters that want to silence women.

There’s plenty more that I’ve unfortunately had to leave out, but there’s a lot of bias and contradictory information that tends to muddy the water. The point is that it’s a big deal due to the fact that it hits on about four different issues at once. The media completely dropped the ball on the issue by siding against the gaming community, because it’s a community that’s already so misunderstood by the general public.

It’s almost too easy to get it wrong, because it won’t matter to the general public (who don’t care enough to make the effort to understand). It’s so much easier to write gamers off as sexist nerds than it is to understand that this is an issue of journalistic ethics. Yes, it’s wrong that a select few took it upon themselves to send death threats to any female who covered the issue from a feminist standpoint. Yes, it’s wrong that there aren’t more realistic female protagonists in games. However, it’s also wrong to use an entire demographic of gamers as the scapegoat any time anything goes wrong in society.

The reason gamers appear so defensive about what they do is because of negative media portrayals. After making the point that a shooter enjoyed playing violent video games , news anchors always seem to encourage family to talk to their loved ones. This often results in the taking-away of said violent video games. There’s an inherent distrust of the media every time they decide to cover gaming, because they always get it wrong.

What “Law & Order” did here was a prime example of why there was a need for gamers to speak out against the media in the first place. This hypothetical video game equivalent of ISIS will only further make the non-gaming community wary of gamers and what twisted ideas they have in their heads.

Maybe we need more gamers in the media, or maybe the media just needs to do more research before they try to cover topics like this. Gaming impacts such a large demographic that it’s impossible to generalize everyone to one collective hive-mind. We’re not all sexists, and we’re not a mean joke away from shooting up a school. We’re everyday people who happen to enjoy escaping this reality to one with less rules.

ISIS brandishes a new weapon of mass destruction: Twitter

As much of a threat as al-Qaeda has been in the past few decades, they’ve never gotten over the phase of cave dwelling and using cheap camcorders to publish their beheadings. Unfortunately, if you want to get people’s attention nowadays, you have to do it in 140 characters or less, and your videos must have the option to skip the ad before it.

Twitter is the new weapon. Graphic by Grace Higginbotham
Twitter is the new weapon. Graphic by Grace Higginbotham

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, commonly referred to as ISIS, is becoming the center of attention because of their ability to do what so many marketing companies are struggling to do — market their product through social media. The same sites you use to complain about biased refs in football and stand on your soapbox for whatever activism is going on that week are now being used to recruit terrorists.

Their attempts to reach out to the youth of the world goes as far as to draw on quotes from TV dramas and popular video games to use in their videos. They use tools like YouTube and Soundcloud to release reports and reach a wider audience. Every time their Twitter account gets suspended, they open a new one and start all over. They use infographics, have an annual publication, and post videos in a variety of languages. This new batch of terrorists has such a firm grasp on social media that the Department of State (DOS) has a hard time keeping up with it all.

Using careful phrasing and effective trigger words, ISIS is able to portray themselves as a group that vows vengeance for the oppressed Muslim groups and swears to seek justice against its oppressors, buying them a bit of support from people who would be interested in joining.

Using the hashtag #thinkagainturnaway, the DOS has been launching a Twitter war with ISIS recruiters in a way that would make the Drake Bell / Justin Bieber flame war seem trivial. Counterterrorism now comes in 140 characters or less. God bless America.

The worst part is that when they finally release the video of the beheadings, news sources like CNN rush to be the first to put it online so everyone can see. The virality of the content is through the roof, because there’s always a fringe group of people who are curious enough to want to see the beheadings for themselves.

Our elders like to complain that too much social media will destroy our generation’s ability to communicate with one another, but when it’s used to find potential terrorists around the world with little to no effort, it raises a whole new range of concerns that would make that aunt of yours scan through your recent Facebook statuses and find that one questionable post.

Much still remains to be seen about how credible the ISIS threat is, but one thing is for certain, they’ve really got a grasp on 21st century cyber warfare, and that is as scary as it gets.