Israel and Hamas use Twitter as an instrument of warfare

The fog of war is a phrase commonly used to capture the uncertainty and confusion that surrounds military conflicts.

Facts, rumour and speculation swirl in the fog as journalists try to figure out what is going on.

But on November 14, the Israeli Defense Forces blew away the fog of war when it live tweeted its assault on the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, in Gaza.

Through its official Twitter account, the IDF announced the start of its campaign and documented it in real time.

Through its Twitter feed and other social media sites, the IDF has been providing a blow by blow account of the conflict.

Twenty years ago, it was CNN who brought the first Gulf War live into our living rooms. Now the military is bypassing the media to reach out directly to the audience.

Through its sophisticated social media campaign, Israel is seeking not just to control the message, but also frame how the assault is covered through tweets such as:

Framing matters in journalism as it affects how a story is told. Through social media, the IDF is trying to shape reporting so that the story is told from Israeli military perspective.

Hamas has also turned to Twitter to spread its message:

Governments have always tried to control how a conflict is reported by limiting access to journalists or imposing reporting restrictions. In this case, both sides have become the media. Both sides are using Twitter and other social media platforms as instruments of warfare.

Shaping the conversation

Aside from providing real-time information on its operations, the IDF is also using Twitter as a way of asserting its military might and striking terror into the hearts of its foes:

The IDF also used hashtags to insert its tweets into topical conversations. In one instance, its referred to the latest version of the video game, Call of Duty, released earlier this week.

And another tapped into the conversation about the latest James Bond’s movie, Skyfall:

(Photo courtesy of IDF).