Like the rest of the world, I have watched in shock as the Syrian civil war has raged. It’s a terrible feeling to be so helpless as innocent people are hurt and lose their lives. It’s clear a tragedy is happening in front of our eyes.
Did you know the Syrian government has maintained an active social media presence during the crisis? A Twitter account posting quotes from President Bashar Assad is active. I wasn’t even expecting that, but it is more commonplace for political moves to be made on Twitter. For me, the kicker is the Syrian government’s Instagram account. Yes, the same platform that launched the #selfie and entire channels of #foodporn photos is also being used as Assad’s propaganda machine.
Check out the profile for photos of the First Lady, Asma Assad wearing an expensive fitness bracelet and feeding impoverished children. President Assad waving to an adoring crowd. The first lady taking congratulatory photos with winners of a high school academic contest. The account, which has only been running since late July 2013, blithely portrays Syria as a peaceful country. Its overall context is clear, innocently asking: “War – what war?”
This is an extreme example for the unspoken language of social media: what isn’t said. Sure, millions of posts go live every day on social media, but what are handles not saying or posting? Often, that is more revealing than their published content.