Sunday, May 11, 2014

Terrorism, Media and Social Media

Rabin Man Shakya

Boko Haram, a Nigerian Islamic terrorist group is lately grabbing one after another international headlines across the world for its heinous terrorist acts. More than 300 Nigerian school girls were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists recently. Of that number, 276 remain in  Boko Haram's captivity and 53 were able to escape. An additional eight girls were also abducted little later  from a village near Boko Haram's stronghold.

Meanwhile, according to media reports, Boko Haram threatens to sell the nearly 300 teenage school girls. And in another heinous act of terrorism, the Boko Haram terrorists killed as many as 300 people in the town of Gamboru Ngala, on the border with Cameroon. According to news reports, the terrorists fired into crowds of people at a busy market. Earlier this year more than 50 teenage boys were massacred at a government school in the north of Nigeria by  Boko Haram terrorists.

Despite the fact that world pressure on Nigeria is mounting over Nigerian government's  disability and failure to rescue the abducted girls and contain terrorist activities, and despite protests being organized in world capitals demonstrating international solidarity for abducted girls and denouncing the terrorists, the Boko Haram terrorism is taking a disastrous toll on the Nigerian people's lives.

The acts of terrorism and their continuing coverage in the world media have raised the specter that the international media is directly or indirectly helping the notorious terrorists just by covering stories about their sinister and heinous activities. By the same token, terrorists and terrorist groups are widely known to have extensively used social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc to disseminate their ideas, messages, and consolidate their power base.

That is why it will not be an exaggeration to assert that terrorism, media and social media may have dangerous and triangular dimensions. Terrorism is not tolerated, no matter where it comes from, and can in no way be justified.

The purpose of terrorism is to create terror and panic among the people. The terrorists can not do this without the help of the media and social media. The more the people freak out, the more successful will be the terrorists. Therefore, the media should be more careful, more balanced and more precisive while covering the terrorist acts. Unnecessary details should not be hyped.

American TV journalist Dan Rather is absolutely right when he says:'True or not, newsrooms covering terrorism everywhere should do what they can to ensure their reports serve the public and not those committing violent acts."

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