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20 January 2015 by Edward



The shocking events over the last two weeks in Paris regarding the shootings at Charlie Hebdo help to illustrate the power and strength that social media has in uniting, marketing and publishing an idea. The scenes in Paris on 7th January 2015 with the shooting at Charlie Hebdo sparked a huge debate regarding the freedom of speech and acts of terrorism. There has been division over whether the newspaper went too far by publishing cartoons and drawings that can cause offence to individuals of certain religions. In this case the image of the Prophet Mohammed, which some people found appalling and highly offensive, led to the reaction and what followed. The world powers have had their say on the issues with David Cameron saying ‘It’s not for politicians to tell magazines or television stations or radio stations what they should publish or what they shouldn’t publish’ meaning that it is a free country with the freedom of speech and Barack Obama agreeing with the point of right to free press. Opinions had been split regarding whether it was ok to publish the image with 4 out of 10 French people feeling they were wrong to publish the image.

So where does social media fit in? Well after the attack on the office they continued to publish the magazine and the next edition featured the caption of ‘Je Suis Charlie’ this in English translates to “I am Charlie”. This caption became a real sign of defiance against the shootings, allowing people to show their support for the victims. The caption was used all over social media with the #JeSuisCharlie becoming one of the most used news related hash tags in history according to Twitter. This is shown as at its peak time on Thursday evening it was averaging 6,500 tweets per minute using the hash tag. Social media played a large part in making people aware of the events, allowing them to pledge their support and being used to help organise the rallies throughout France, which supported Charlie Hebdo. Facebook was also instrumental with help from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg who used the caption in a post, which led to masses of, likes and shares putting the post all over the world and into the spotlight. The Facebook tool of creating an event was used to arrange meetings and discuss views on the matter. Social media helped expand the support and slogan helping it appear on Hollywood shows. This just demonstrates the power of social media and how it can take something small such as a caption and spread it worldwide, however is it all positive? That can be argued against as opposition retaliated with their own versions of the hash tag supporting their view which appeared to expand the divide between the sides.

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