Blogs, YouTube: the new battleground of Gaza conflict
Both sides used the Internet to rally supporters and shape public opinion.
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But it's not just independent activists who were busy online. Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based news network, complemented its traditional coverage with innovative new media features, such as sending out reports from Gaza via Twitter, an online messaging service, and posting an interactive map showing where war-related incidents in Gaza and Israel were happening.Skip to next paragraph
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"This is the first time that new media worked as a proven concept for how a mainstream media organization can cover an event like this online," says Riyaad Minty, a new media analyst with Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government has been working hard to utilize new media tools to press its case. At the beginning of the conflict in Gaza, the Israeli consulate in New York held what was described as the first "governmental" press conference using Twitter. The online event was open to anyone with a Twitter account.
The country's Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, working together with the Foreign Ministry's public relations department, has also announced that it is looking for a multilingual "army of bloggers" to help in the aftermath of the Gaza operation.
But some see the enlistment of the Internet in the Gaza battle as part of a troubling trend.
"We've been seeing the rise of what I refer to as citizen propaganda," says Ethan Zuckerman, a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, who observed a similar online information battle during last summer's conflict between Russia and Georgia.
"Rather than becoming the cafe of the world, where we interact on common ground, the Net has become a very effective place to rally people to your own cause and try to coordinate their actions."
Adds Mr. Zuckerman: "I think what has become really interesting is that in an era when you have armed conflict between states, you now have people online looking to see how [they] can become part of that conflict without leaving their computers."