The term “information war” has been used to describe the use of information technology to achieve military objectives, as well as to influence public opinion.
The recent Israel-Hamas conflict has been no exception to this trend. The conflict has been characterized by a war of misinformation, with both sides using social media and other digital platforms to spread propaganda and disinformation.
It is a trend that involves the use and management of information and communication technology (ICT) in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent through electronic, cyber, or psychological operations.
The recent example of Gaza’s hospital bombing on Tuesday has illustrated how quickly misinformation has been weaponized in the Israel-Hamas conflict. It was reported that Israeli airstrikes bombed Gaza Hospital killing more than 500 people including caregivers and it brought Israel into everyone’s target of ongoing hatred.
Pro-Israel and Pro- Palestinians have used their respective media outlets to present their side of the conflict. This includes the framing of events, choice of language, and selection of images that highlight their narrative.
The use of social media platforms, such as X, Facebook, and Instagram, has been instrumental in disseminating information, sharing images and videos, and mobilizing support on either side. Hashtags, trending topics, and viral content are working to create alternative facts and terming that the explosion was caused by a Hamas rocket that had misfired, making it challenging for the public to discern fact from fiction.
Earlier, the White House had to walk back from President Joe Biden’s claim that he saw pictures of beheaded children following Hamas’s deadly attack on Israel.
The reversal came after Biden described seeing images of mutilated children during a meeting with Jewish leaders at the White House.
Unverified claims about the beheading of Israeli children and the sexual assault of hostages by the Palestinian armed group have gone viral on social media in the days following.
Such virality of posts amplifies the voices of individuals and organizations, which can either promote peace or fuel hatred.
Media outlets on both sides also focus on specific incidents while ignoring or downplaying others. Both sides portray themselves as victims of the conflict. The suffering of civilians is frequently emphasized to garner international sympathy and support.
In response to the information war, fact-checking organizations, independent journalists, and watchdog groups should actively work to verify information and provide a more balanced perspective. However, their impact could be limited in the face of a flood of emotionally charged content.
The recent conflict has had a significant impact on public opinion too.
The public usually consumes information through social media and public opinion is highly affected nowadays as everybody receives the truth which is altered and treated as per their own truth but nobody knows what exactly is happening.
Speaking about “my truth” or “your truth” suggests that truth is relative to an individual. Philosophers call this view “truth relativism”. It says that when someone makes a claim, that claim is made true or false by what they believe or how they feel, rather than by the way the world actually is.
It underscores the need for critical media literacy and the importance of seeking multiple, reliable sources of information to form a well-informed perspective on the situation.
So, it is very important to be vigilant when consuming news nowadays and to verify information from multiple sources.