Comment The internet is full of lies about Gaza and another kind of truth

The social internet as we know it today was born when a man set himself on fire.

On December 17, 2010, Tariq al-Taib Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire after government agents harassed him, humiliated him, and prevented him from selling his wares. His desperate act spread across the web and the world. The Arab Spring had begun. All over the world, people flocked to social media as a source of truth on the ground.

Now, it seems almost the opposite. The war between Hamas and Israel, which is available for all of us to follow online, has captivated viewers. However, for every honest testimony from those who live there, there is a heap of lies.

what happened? The common answer is that over the past decade, Silicon Valleys most prominent platforms have turned from oases to ponds. As a result, the way we look at these sites has also changed.

Once upon a time, we believed that social media offered a little truth: the hard truths of every situation. It wasn’t always wise The demonstrations in Egypt’s Tahrir Square in 2011 were effectively broadcast live to the world with participants’ comments. But researchers say what has reached us thousands of miles away is a mixture of rumor and reality. Nevertheless, we devoured every dispatch directly from those on the ground. Wade had never tasted such unfiltered information before.

Today we know that we were wrong to be so gullible. We look askance at any claim, or at least any claim that doesn’t confirm what we said earlier: the picture of a bloodied boy surrounded by Israeli soldiers turned out to be a behind-the-scenes frame from a short film. The video of the paraglider hitting the power line, which was actually a video of the accident this spring in South Korea. Clips of militants shooting down helicopters actually taken from the 2013 video game Arma 3.

All this has made us pessimistic. They were ready to doubt Right To doubt as long as we seek something is still that little truth. However, perhaps the small truth is not all we should be looking for.

Consider the explosion at al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City on October 17. Masses of people on social media, as well as many mainstream media outlets, including the New York Times, immediately jumped on Hamas’ claim that an Israeli missile was to blame. . By the end of the next day, they retreated.

An analysis by The Post last week showed that a barrage of rockets fired by fighters in Gaza hit the hospital 44 seconds before it exploded. And while a look at The New York Times casts doubt on the substantial evidence for this view, the investigation also doesn’t blame Israel for the attack.

You might say this is another moment when online platforms let a lie flourish, and you’d be right. However, it is easy to understand why there are those on earth Did Blame Israel for starting the attack.

Israel has fired more than 7,000 munitions into Gaza this month. Three days before the mysterious explosion, an Israeli artillery shell Did It hit the hospital but was a light shell that did only minor damage. 22 hospitals treating more than 2,000 patients have also been warned to evacuate, precisely because they may be in the line of fire. Those living under siege watch their homes razed to the ground by missiles or their loved ones killed by missiles. No wonder when they hear more about the carnage, they think one of those missiles was responsible.

A viral story, on the other hand, offers a similar lesson: the beheading of babies at Kibbutz Kfar Aza. President Biden was the single most prominent political and social leader to repeat the bogus claim that Hamas terrorists beheaded babies, only for his aides to show upon closer examination that, at least as far as anyone can prove, the terrorists did. They have not separated from the body. After all this.

However they had Men and women with severed heads and them had KILLED THE BABIES The frenzied debate over whether or not Hamas has been defamed by those who accuse Hamas of beheading babies, when Hamas had merely shot those babies, almost reads like surrealism. Yes, that claim was technically false. But was it an emotional lie? How about morally?

Even in our age of skepticism about everything we see online, most people seem hopeful that, with the right interventions, we can rely on the web to catalog incoming facts and write their history for posterity. And social media can still sometimes help that project by exposing stories that would otherwise be buried. Consider, for example, the murder of George Floyd.

But especially in moments of crisis, in the midst of the fog of war, more often than not, the little truth is not what’s going to come out. What we almost always get in return is dirtier: an angle to the world not as it literally is, but as people feel. this is. Israel bombed the hospital. Hamas beheaded babies.

Certainly, this situation is unfortunate for resolving differences or reconstructing a common reality. The positive thing is that it is a kind of big emotional and moral truth that the Internet Can Broadcasting around the world can go some way to creating more empathy. Platforms that allow for real-time sharing, without editing or quantification, allow us to witness the raw emotions of people far away, as they experience them or those close to us, but unlike us in the background or perspective.

Bouazizi, the man who caught fire in Tunisia, was initially said to be a university graduate who was demoted to selling fruit and then being robbed. It was eventually determined that he did not go to college and may not have finished high school. Is this important? He still set himself on fire.

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