Social media within the last five years has had a significant impact on journalism within the Middle East from the Arab spring in 2010 to more recent beheadings of journalists within Iraq. Similar to the other places, Iraq suffers and gains from the consequences of increased social media use. More people have access to news instantly as citizen journalists can post and explore hostile areas easier. However, false reports and prominence of more graphic topics also flood facebook and twitter feeds. Violence against journalists in Iraq is nothing new, especially since targeting of journalists occurs from both the Iraqi governments and terrorist groups. Citizen journalists through the use of social media have been successful in informing the public about events in Iraq.
On the other side, the use of social media by ISIS has created reasons for censorship of the internet in Iraq. ISIS’s app automatically upload tweets and other status updates for its followers creating an image of unified support that can trend on social media accounts as this The Atlantic article explains. The use of its beheading videos have been successful in drawing international public attention through its terror marketing.
ISIS’s social media presence has been so effective that one woman, Aqsa Mahmood, left Glasglow to become a martyr for the group. Her decision to leave was documented by CNN and highlighted how effective ISIS’s campaigns were in attracting supporters. Although Ms. Mahmood’s whereabouts were unknown, her last known location was in Syria. Her decision to join ISIS reflects upon the success of social media by members of ISIS. A negative side effect of this campaign is the conflation of all or the majority of Iraqis and/or Muslims as supporters of extremists groups, such as ISIS. It is too soon to tell what effects this will have on representation of Iraqis and Muslims in other forms of media.