Paris attacks – All united online
After the tragic news of the terrible terrorist attacks that shook Paris earlier this month, it was great to see how united France was during the rally on the 12th January 2015 with more than 3 million showing they would not be kowtowed by terrorism. However, it was also great to note that this unity extended online with the trending social media hashtags #notafraid and #jesuischarlie.
The attacks, lasting from the 7th to the 9th January 2015, were co-ordinated by Islamist militants against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, policemen and Jews. In the end, 17 people died and the French forces killed three of the terrorists.
Social Media: quick support to the victims and unity against terrorism
This event provides yet more evidence of the importance of online platforms in spreading a message, not only across the nation, but also the world. In fact, social networks played a crucial part in providing real-time information about what was happening as the event unfolded, as news channels struggled to keep up.
In a sign of the times, the news first spread on the social media platforms before being reported by national French news television channels and radio stations on the television and radio, and then across the world. This all resulted from people across social media channels sharing witnesses’ videos on YouTube and Facebook as well as their tweets and status updates on Twitter and Facebook.
“Je suis Charlie”, French for “I am Charlie”, became the rallying call of those who opposed the attacks. Hastily created by Joachim Roncin, a French journalist for the Stylist Magazine, only an hour after the first attack, the Twitter hashtag #jesuischarlie was adopted across the internet and during the unity rallies organised in France and all over the world to highlight their support of free speech and freedom of expression.
According to Social Bro, on 7th January 2015, the hastag was tweeted around 1 million times. Interviewed later, Roncin said he created the image as it spoke for itself and he lacked the words.
Additionally, numerous cartoonists also used the slogan through their art and were also shared online.
Immediacy of News
Whilst this event was tragic, it showed the immediacy of news in the 21st Century. No longer do we wait for news channels to report the news, but rather we reach for social media with its real-time commentary of events on the ground. It is also reassuring to see that social media, so often chastised as a divisive feature of our modern digital lives, can serve to bring people together in a show of tremendous unity.