Not Mid Morning Matters

JD in the Morning, off air…

Tag: apple

Islamic State and the state of social media

A British born jihadist beheads an American journalist in a self-declared Islamic State to affirm a caliphate by posting it on social media.

Those who use social media, and include myself in this, are wondering what these platforms are all about this week. The use of social media by Islamic State, IS as they are now called, is quite brilliant. Many companies and celebrities would love the attention and ‘penetration’ that IS are achieving in getting their message and methods out to the world. This is a world IS want to destroy or at the very least return to their 14th Century version of Islam. The juxtaposition of using the very apex of the 21st century communication to tell the world they are wrong and IS is right cannot be lost on them, or us.

This is the biggest issue with social media and, as has already been proven by the internet, social media is fast becoming out of control as it is being used for purposes unimagined and is now beyond the control of its creators. As fast as IS have an account closed they open another; its like a cyber version of wack-a-mole. Advocates of Twitter and Facebook, who are public companies with shareholders and business models and bottom lines to achieve, have been and are being duped. I include the BBC in this.

It would seem implausible that any BBC presenter, paid from the public purse on a network that does not advertise at all, would be allowed to say ”call me on your Blackberry or Apple mobile ‘phone, using your Vodafone provider or you can use your BT landline and your Currys ‘phone to make that call, or you can even use Royal Mail to write to me using your Parker pen and Basildon Bond paper”? They are all businesses looking for custom and profit, just like Facebook and Twitter yet social media is exempt.

Television viewers and radio listeners are regularly invited to tweet, post or like on Twitter and Facebook. It seems okay for everyone in the media to freely advertise social media providers, encourage their use, to create and enhance the platform of millions of connected users and, by endorsement, imply it’s a good thing.

Here is the reality from this weeks shocking news. A simple click of a link on social media can take you to a video of a kitten in an oversized wine glass looking cute, a drunk Russian trying to stand up in the snow or an innocent man, a son, a journalist being murdered by someone whose twisted view of his faith makes him ‘believe’ his actions are just. You are a click away from the worst of humanity, faith, belief, and what you may know or feel is right or wrong. You have no control over this unless you opt out completely. Social Media has no control either and IS know this.

Sharing views, keeping followers or friends informed is one thing but social media is fast becoming something more and it has now contributed to the murder of James Foley. Social Media gives IS a platform and that platform allows them to ‘share’ their message, ‘post’ their actions, their followers to ‘retweet’ it and there is nothing we can do about it. There is nothing social media providers, these listed companies with shareholders and profits to make can do about it.

So the question is ‘would James Foley still be alive if social media didn’t exist?’. If the act of his brutal murder couldn’t be ‘shared’ or ‘tweeted’ or ‘retweeted’ would IS have done it?

The conclusion could be to beware the advocates of social media, those who claim it is the future and we must embrace it, do more on it, make it part of our every day lives, plead for tweets or posts. Most of all beware of those who have the need for ‘followers’ and ‘friends’. These are some of the many lessons of this week.

One last thing. The bravery of James Foley shown in his face against the masked face of ‘Jihadi John’ who was unwilling to show the world his face by hiding in the cowardice of non identity and clearly lacking in any confidence that his ‘god’ believes in him tells us much about this version of Islam and IS.


I am aware I have used Social Media to publish this blog. That irony is not lost too.

Fear; it’s a cover up and it’s wrapped up.

Be safe, feel safe. This is the mantra of Avon and Somerset Police, it’s part of the nine crime plans across the West of England and the Police and Crime Commissioner believes the phrase encapsulates all she is trying to achieve. The reality is that overall crime rates are falling by every measure and, despite less police officers being on the streets, you are safer now than you have ever been. Yes, certain crimes are on the rise, cyber crime seeing the biggest increase of all, but you are safer than you have been for many years. Yes you really are. You don’t feel it though do you? The fear of crime is significantly greater than the reality of crime.

There is a whole industry out there playing to your fears and hoping to make you feel safer. It preys on your fears, creates and magnifies your fears and uses the odd incident or accident to make you more fearful it could happen to you too. Nothing makes this more clear than the industry that makes covers for mobile phones. Every phone designed is made as a complete object. It’s not made to fail, to fall apart or not to withstand the odd accidental drop so why would you buy a cover for a phone? Fear. You buy the mobile phone cover fearful that if you don’t have one you might damage your phone. Do you honestly think that the brains at Apple or Samsung created their cutting edge technology, starting selling it and then thought ‘bugger, I wish we’d made a cover for it.’

Other examples of fear being turned into a business include wrapping your suitcase in cling wrap to protect it. Think about this. Shrink wrapping your suitcase; that’s putting a cover on a case, which is already a cover. If your suitcase needs to be wrapped in cling film buy a better case.

The cycle helmet is another product of fear. July this year saw all children who ride a bike aged under 14 on the Channel Island of Jersey without a helmet risk a £50 fine for their parents. The debate rages in the UK over the compulsory wearing of cycle helmets but I’ve yet to find any empirical evidence that they work. Maybe you can point me to it? I’ve heard of accidents that might have been different if a cycle helmet was worn but the key word there is ‘might’. There may be lots of reasons to wear a cycle helmet, feeling safer being one of them but there is little real evidence or research to prove you ARE safer wearing a cycle helmet. And where wearing cycle helmets has become compulsory, like Australia, rates of cycling have fallen. The reality seems to be that a bit of polystyrene perched on your head makes you feel safe with out a doubt, but will it make you be safe?

Some media and certainly some newspapers trade on your fears and who is to blame for it. The more fears they create the better and, as we get older, we become more fearful. My own recent experiences of cycling to work and riding water slides on holiday have proved this to me, until I found my inner ‘child’ again.

So the next time some tries to sell you a cover for a phone, wrap your case in cling film or make you wear a protective anything please, at the very least, question it and don’t be afraid to do so.

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