Yesterday, many Singaporeans woke up to the news that the city of Paris was under attack (from terrorists who were later to be confirmed from ISIS). Social media as well as main stream media was flooded with news and stories about the attacks and, for a moment, it appeared that the world stood still as nothing else mattered.
Inevitably, even as police investigations commenced and calls were made not to speculate on the reason for or who the people responsible for the attacks were, hate messages started on social media. Slowly but surely, anger at the Muslims and calls for revenge were heard. As these messages started to spread, the seeds for potential violence against fellow Muslim Singaporeans began to be planted.
Thankfully, rational Singaporeans exist and counter-movements calling on Singaporeans to reject violence started. One such counter-movement was started by the Facebook page Talking Singapore with the message "Stand united against terrorism. One people. One Nation." Unfortunately we cannot directly assess the impact this had, but Talking Singapore's FB post garnered over 66 likes and 23 shares within the first 12 hours. If we assume an average friend base of 800, the combined likes and shares would have reached an estimated 71,200 people. While not significant, a reach of 70,000 plus is also not insignificant (in the context of Singapore). Combine this with the numerous other counter-movements, it is our assessment that potential violence was avoided.
In short, as we have stated time and again, Social Media is a good servant but bad master. Organizations, and in this instances governments, need to use it to their advantage in a crisis. As organizations cannot rely on the good will of platform owners, they need to develop and own platforms that will then allow them to push out the "correct" messages at critical times.
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