Posts tagged Gaza
Many things you can do this year and resolve to do in 2011:
- You can join the twitter campaigns on December 27 to promote justice for Gaza and remember the atrocities committed by Israel in December – January 2008. The two campaigns are #Gaza2 and #BoycottIsrael.
- Wear Red on Monday, December 27.
- Join and support the BDS Movement – the most powerful and growing movement to delegitimize the apartheid state of Israel. There are simple things you can do like refuse to buy Motorola, Ahava, Veolia, and other products. And there are bigger things you can do by joining your local BDS groups and their campaigns to boycott, divest, and sanction.
We were on a mission this weekend to raise global twitter awareness about the Freedom Flotilla heading towards Gaza with tons of aid supplies. The organizers were doing an amazing job with social media, tweeting live from the boats, video live streaming, as well as Google-mapping their locations in the sea on the hour. We wanted to amplify those efforts.
Before the Attack
We tweeted and tweeted and #flotilla did not trend, although it was technically ahead of many trending topics over 24 hours. Even the Jerusalem Post recognized the phenomenal effort we put. I flipped through the TV channels and found no news covering the topic, except for occasional updates from Al Jazeera. By 5am Beirut time, over 13,000 viewers had been watching the live stream continuously for hours. The flotilla had been surrounded by Israeli warships and air force. Nobody reported about it. I stupidly thought there was no way Israel would attack the activists, who all appeared in positive, high spirits on the live stream. One young woman, an Arab American laughed and said to the camera she apologizes to her family for not telling them she was going to Gaza again. She was really cool. Max, I thought, the Israeli warships would block the flotilla near Gaza and escort them to the tents they had prepared in Ashdod. How else does one deal with a peaceful, non-violent protest?
And so, I went to sleep, waiting to hear the news of the flotilla in the morning. I woke up to the horror that 16 activists had been killed and that the flotilla had been captured by the Israeli military. I was shocked and speechless for a good hour. #Flotilla had risen to over 0.7% on twitter but still wasn’t trending. It is undoubtedly a case of censorship. I challenge anyone to tell me it wasn’t. I saved all the graphs. @ShantDotMe suggested that we try and trend another term since twitter must have blocked #Flotilla. I figured they also had the excuse of flotilla being a common noun, so I suggested we go for #FreedomFlotilla. An hour later, both “Gaza Flotilla” and #FreedomFlotilla were trending and have been for the past couple of hours.
We did not mean for #Flotilla to trend because of a massacre. No, that was not our purpose at all. We wanted #Flotilla to trend while the boats were on their way towards Gaza so that the world could follow what was happening.
The Wrong Kind of Trending
But all of that doesn’t matter. We did not mean for #Flotilla to trend because of a massacre. No, that was not our purpose at all. We wanted #Flotilla to trend while the boats were on their way towards Gaza so that the world could follow what was happening. We wanted the world to follow the facts, to meet the faces on board the boats, to see the situation unfold in front of their eyes. The Zionist propaganda machine is extremely powerful and it was on full speed last night with arguments like: people on the flotilla are armed, they are on their way to murder thousands of Israelis, they are smuggling guns to give to Hamas, all bullshit accusations. The Gaza Freedom Flotilla was an international group of over 700 people from 40 different countries, carrying thousands of tons of aid to the Palestinians who have been under siege for over 1080 days. Do you think they would be brave enough to sail to Gaza, knowing the threat they were under, if their purpose was to smuggle arms? Of course the point was not only to deliver the aid; they were on a political action to break the siege. Their action was brave and courageous and pacifist and non-violent. The world continues to be silent about the siege. Gazans continue to suffer. And so the activists wanted to wake the world up by sailing straight to Gaza through international waters.
And so, what is Israel to do in the face of non-violent protest? First, of course, Israel tries to play the innocent helpful role: give us the aid, we will deliver it ourselves, knowing the organizers would not agree because this is not an isolated incident of sending aid to Gaza. This is a political message to break the siege. Second, of course, Israel tries to delegitimize the non-violence, accusing the activists of “provoking” the Israeli warships. But who provoked who really? Israel taunted the activists, circling them by sea and sky, in international waters, signaling and threatening to take action. The flotilla boats then huddled close together and diverted their course a little in order to avoid the clash with the Israeli warships, and their spirits remained high. The Zionist taunting did not work. Israel weighs out the options:
- Attack the flotilla, kill a few people, scare everyone from ever attempting such actions again, take a tiny bit of criticism, remain protected by impunity, whitewash the crime with excuses of self-defense, and come out of it unscathed; or
- allow the activists to reach Gaza, break the siege, deliver some aid, and give hope to thousands of other activists that non-violent marches (or sails) actually work?
The choice is obvious. The Israelis thus act ruthlessly – even in the face of such non-violence – to scare the hell out of these activists and any others. Their message is clear: you cannot resist Zionism, not even non-violently. They will shut down every glimpse of it lest it grow too powerful. And no, my dear Arab leaders, you are not getting off the hook so easily. All of you are racing now to denounce the attacks on the flotilla. Where were you a few days ago when the mission needed your support? Where are all the other boat and ships from all the other countries to join the flotilla? Astankir, nastankir.. shut the fuck up!
So. Israel knew exactly what to do. The question now is: what are we to do? Our choice is just as obvious.
Friends, it is once again time to use social media to get a message across to the world. A flotilla of boats carrying human rights activists is right now on its way to Gaza via international waters in order to break the Israeli siege and deliver aid to the people. Will they succeed in their mission? Will they make history? What can we do to support them?
Let’s trend #flotilla on twitter all day tomorrow, Sunday, May 30, by tweeting news, thoughts, and links about the Freedom Flotilla’s trajectory to Gaza. Once we trend it, millions of people will see the term and click on it to find out what it means and why it’s trending. We will also be providing moral support and sailing (twailing?) in solidarity with the brave activists risking their lives on board the flotilla. Here’s what you can do:
- Be online on Sunday, May 30 starting 12pm Cairo time (5am New York time) and throughout the day. We want to get #flotilla trending by the early afternoon and keep it trending through the night.
- Let us know you have joined us. Sign up here or tweet to @nmoawad or @justicentric.
- Recruit fellow tweeps to join us.
- Use Facebook to get the message across.
- Get more information here: http://www.gazafreedommarch.org/cms/en/flotilla.aspx and here.
- Follow all the tweets on the #flotilla here.
Group trending is a lot of fun & will connect you to so many wonderful new tweeps. So get on board; we need every tweet. When tweeting, take note to:
- Hash #Flotilla only once (or else it doesn’t count).
- Don’t use the automatic retweet button (or else your tweet doesn’t count).
- Tweet often but not more than once or twice a minute (or else your account will get blocked).
- Tweet useful information about the #flotilla and #Gaza. Our mission is to raise awareness, not simple to trend.
It’s very short notice but we can do it!
I made some edits (in red) on December 28.
We did it! We trended #Gaza on twitter on the day that commemorated the start of the brutal 22-day Israeli war and siege on Gaza. It was an incredible day. #Gaza trended into the Top 10 for a good 9 hours at least (at the time of writing this post). Wow. So a quick recap of how it went:
- By Sunday morning, we had 74 people signed up to tweet for Gaza between 5pm and 9pm.
- I got online around noon and saw that Gaza had already risen to 0.4% Many tweeps were already online tweeting heavily for Gaza. @gyonis suggested that we try and get half-way up the trending chart by the start of the campaign. @justicentric and @smileandsubvert were tweeting insanely. Spirits were high and more people were getting online and tweeting for Gaza. Some had prepared tweets beforehand, which was very smart. And then, around 1.30 pm, #Gaza appeared on the Top 10 Trending Topics of Twitter! Of course, @justicentric was the first to notice it, cos he was monitoring all the stats like a hawk. A bit before 2pm, it was at #9:
- We went insane! We ran around (metaphorically, on twitter) not knowing what to do. We had broken into the Trending 10 already, so we couldn’t stop. We had to keep on going. Everyone was nailed to their computers or phones, tweeting, re-tweeting, linking, sharing. And @Palaestina who had AMAZING tweets lined up, including the names of every child who was killed in Gaza, got blocked. Barely after s/he warned us about it, other active members, included myself, also got blocked. We opened new accounts immediately and tweeted from there until they unblocked our accounts (which was an average of 45 minutes later). @uruknet and other tweeps reported getting blocked for up to 3.5 hours. The blocking was fishy and didn’t make a lot of sense, so you can see some ideas being bounced in the comments about why this happened. I definitely think we were being reported by people who didn’t want #Gaza to trend.
- Very quickly, #Gaza fluctuated between #7 and #8 on twitter. Hopes were very high! We couldn’t believe we had made it so early on. Over 300 tweeps had signed on to the #Gaza twibbon.
- Everything was going great.. It was close to 4pm and we were at #5! We were figuring out the techniques of trending something on twitter. Multiple hashes don’t count. The new RT function doesn’t count. Too many RTs get you blocked or helps your rivals report you as spam. Zionist assholes started showing up and promoting us all as anti-Semites. People were waking up and asking what #Gaza meant. It was awesome! This screenshot is me tweeting from my other account (cos twitter blocked me, remember?) That’s why it’s in blue:
- People were logging in and feeling so energized to see Gaza trending already, so they boosted with great tweets. I was so sure we were going to hit number one any second. And then came Hayley.
- Who Hayley is I don’t know and I don’t care to google. It was her birthday today, so suddenly (and very illogically), HappyBdayHayley shot to number 1. It didn’t make any sense! Look at the difference between #Gaza and #HappyBdayHaley on trendistic in the screenshot below. That’s us in red. How could #HappyBdayHayley shoot to number one? What made it even weirder is that @zalface discovered many spam bots like this one: @carolmeatsix that were spamming twitter with #HappyBdayHayley for hours at very high rates. How come they didn’t get blocked? This adds to our suspicion that we were being reported by people.
- The only sense we could make was that twitter didn’t want #Gaza to trend. And after HappyBdayHayley came HappyBdayHayleyBR – the Brazilian version – also trending! Ridiculous! But still, the tweeters kept signing on, news, links, videos, feelings, thoughts, cartoons, blog posts, stories, all sorts of expressions kept flowing onto twitter, all for Gaza, the Gaza Freedom March, and Viva Palestina. Eventually, we made it to #3. Yep. We hit Trending Topic Number 3 on twitter at 7:39 (+2GMT). Here’s the screenshot!
- We tried really hard after that, but couldn’t get it past #3. I believe we were stopped there on purpose. Further proof is that twitter never allowed #Gaza to appear on its main page for before you sign in. I watched it for more than 10 hours. Even when we hit and stayed on the top 5, #Gaza never showed on the main twitter.com. I was actually corrected about this by @Stand4Liberty who sent me a screenshot (below) of #Gaza appearing on the sign-in page briefly when we were top-trending. Did twitter block #Gaza from getting to #1 on purpose? Maybe, maybe not. I really don’t know. I do, however, think it is pointless to waste our time wondering if it did. We still trended for > 10 hours!
- We kept on tweeting through the night. By 11pm, #Gaza had dropped off the Top Ten Trending completely, but is still going pretty well. All in all, the feeling of being part of this campaign was amazing! We trended by the time the tweeters in North American (twitter’s largest demographic) woke up. Lots of people said they learned a lot about Gaza and Palestine today. We outnumbered the Zionist tweeters by far. By the time of posting, people who supported the #Gaza twibbon were 460 and their total followers were 379,307. @justicentric says he got over 10,000 clicks on the links he put out today, not including the links from re-tweets. @Razaniyyat and @uruknet‘s tweets were loaded with informative links and resources. @MXML wasn’t online but s/he scheduled beautifully thought-provoking tweets about Palestine and Gaza. @GhadeerM tweeted for Gaza from all her heart – although only last week she didn’t know what twitter was. There was something beautiful in all of us, strangers, coming together, from all over the world, talking collectively about a cause that matters to us, achieving a goal together. Solidarity. Using a new, creative, youthful strategy. Away from the usual rhetoric, the usual groups, politicians, and religions that hijack the Palestinian cause.
- What comes next, I’m not sure. But we’ve found each other and we’ve accomplished something together with the help of very little: a couple of blog posts, a few tweets, and a google document. Let’s all watch and tweet for the Gaza Freedom March for the next week, and all ideas of what activism we can come up with using this new network we’ve created are welcome. Make sure you join the Palestine Action Network on Facebook so we can contact you later for other campaign ideas! Thank you everybody!
I end with a beautiful tweet from @ajit8uk that just came up:
“We got to 3. We are the people. No one owns this earth. NO ONE. #GAZA”
Only 2 days to go before our attempt at trending #GAZA on twitter to raise global awareness on commemorating one year since the massive Israeli assault and siege. You can read the initial post here. Here are some updates and instructions I thought would be useful for all of us involved in the campaign:
How does a topic trend on twitter and why is that important?
At every given time, twitter lists a number of “trending,” i.e. popular topics being discussed frequently by a large number of people. These topics get a lot of needed attention – especially if we know they are otherwise going to be ignored by mainstream mass media. With all the odds against the Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina, we need to make sure that we are reporting the news of what’s happening with their campaigns, as well as reminding the world of the one-year commemoration. Topics trend on twitter when a large number of people mention it frequently over a substantial period of time. It also depends on the percentage of tweets, the hour, how active the twit-o-sphere is, etc. Based on a little research I did today, here’s how we can get it done:
- We have all been tweeting #GAZA news frequently the past week at an average of 0.02% (i.e. out of 1 million tweets, 200 are about Gaza). We need to raise that number to at least 1% AND we need to sustain that for at least 4 hours. Some research says the average hour has 200,000 unique tweets. So we’re looking at a goal of 2000 unique #GAZA tweets per hour. Follow #GAZA on Trendistic to see how it’s doing at any time. You can also compare it to other topics; here’s a comparison between #GAZA and #09memories that quickly trended to 4% in a day.
- In order to do that, we must focus our energies on 4 hours: 3pm – 7pm (GMT). Find out what time that is in your city here. According to the following graph, that raises our chances of trending because that’s when the tweets are at that lowest. It’s Sunday morning for the North Americans (twitter’s largest demographic), so we should aim to trend #GAZA by the time they get online:
- To guarantee a large reach, we initially called for at least 100 campaigners. These are tweeps who are dedicated to tweet non-stop about #GAZA for the full 4 hours of the campaign. They are the ones who will make the difference in peaking the topic. Here is a list of everyone who has signed up. You can choose to follow all (or some) of them to retweet the news yourself. I am updating the list on an hourly basis. If you’d like to sign up, please drop me a message on @nmoawad or leave a comment here. We need many more people to sign up! Even if you’ve never used twitter before, you can still register for an account, follow the #GAZA list and start tweeting with us.
- Please blog about the commemoration to add news and resources we can link to. We expect that some great news articles, blogs, and videos will come up on Sunday for us to tweet. We will also be receiving and reporting live news from GFM and Viva Palestina marchers.
That’s the plan for now. We’re crossing our fingers it works! The challenge will be to get enough people on board and enough tweets out there. We’re hoping no sudden global event happens to steal attention away from Gaza. It’s not going to be easy at all because we’re in the middle of holiday season and goodbye 2009 tweets. But imagine how beautiful it will be when we (and the world) see #GAZA up there. If you have any expertise, please do make comments on my stats above – they are at best my estimated guesses, so any help is greatly appreciated.
So yalla! Take action:
- Spread the word. Send emails, share links on Facebook, make calls, recruit your friends, etc. Ask people to sign up on twitter. Since we don’t have much time to coordinate efforts, please feel free to run different ideas to support our goal.
- Add a #GAZA Twibbon to your Twitter Picture.
- Join the Facebook event ACT, Don’t Mourn and invite all your friends.
- Follow #Gaza search on twitter on Sunday to see where we at.
- Chang your Facebook profile pic to the image on the right.
- Follow me on twitter for updates.
- You can use Tweet-U-Later to schedule tweets to come out at different times. Do so in moderation though so that twitter doesn’t see you as spamming.
We’ve been bouncing ideas on the twitosphere to raise awareness and show support for Gaza on December 27, as we remember one year since the brutal Israeli assault and siege. The Gaza Freedom March is also building up momentum for their fantastic endeavor. It is important to highlight the cause online in order to promote our call for justice and remembrance.
The idea is simple. At every moment, there is a topic “trending” on twitter. It always results in drawing the attention of the world and the media. To trend a topic, thousands of people must hash it, i.e. tweet about it using the # before it. For example, the most trending topic over the next week is bound to be #xmas because everyone’s tweeting about Christmas. So what we want to do is push #GAZA to the top of twitter’s discussed topics on December 27. Get it?
Here’s what you can do:
- Open a twitter account if you haven’t yet. Get your friends to give you a crash course on how to use it – it’s very simple.
- On December 27, get online and tweet about #Gaza by citing news sources or re-tweeting links from others.
- Join the Palestine Action Network group to get updates via Facebook.
- Join the event: ACT – don’t mourn on Facebook.
- Take online action aroung the Gaza Freedom March.
- Recruit your friends and groups to do the same.
- If you’re an experienced tweep, please join the core team to brainstorm more ideas on how to succeed with our online campaign. It’s not going to be easy because we’re in the middle of a holiday season, so we need all the help we can get. Hit me up via twitter on @nmoawad.
If you’ve got any questions I can help with, contact me.