01/29/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Global Twittersphere Discusses Gaza

This article was originally published on Global Voices Online.

Twitter is the new blogging, or so the story goes. Never has that been more apparent than in times of crisis: During the Mumbai attacks, Twitter users provided up-to-the-minute coverage, and today, as Israeli airstrikes continue to hit Gaza, the Twittersphere is deep in discussion.

Twitter users utilize hashtags to aggregate their content; users can then go to Twitter Search and look for content on a particular subject. In this case, the most utilized hashtag is #gaza, while #gazawarofwords is tracking media bias. A search for other hashtags being used to discuss Gaza brings up #israel, #syria, #baghdad, #2states, and #rafah, among others. Users also "re-tweet" information from other users in an effort to disseminate it quickly; an example:

The real-time shelisrael, a Twitter user in California, noted early on yesterday that Twitter is one of the first platforms to enable such open discussion:

Since that point, the world has been engaged in sometimes healthy debate, other times expressing rage, and most importantly, reporting news; the following example includes participants from Palestine, Mauritania, and San Francisco (US):

The nature of the discussion provokes heated questions and arguments. skinner, from Oxford, UK via Amman, Jordan, asks:

YaelBeeri, an Israeli Twitter user, points out the diversity of opinion in the Twittersphere:

Another fascinating feature of the Twitter discussion is the analysis of media coverage. #gazawarofwords, a hashtag started by Twitter user weddady, provides a central point of aggregation for such reporting:

The best way to follow Twitter updates is by looking to the source; Twitter Search RSS feeds for any hashtag or search term (e.g. #gaza) and participating is easy.