Month: January 2013

The Weekly Top Five January 20-23, 2013

January 23, 2013

The Weekly Top 5 January 20-23, 2013

As of the first week of January, we’ve added a new feature to the Buzz Report: the Weekly Top 5. The Weekly Top 5 report highlights the top five subjects which generated the largest volume of discussion across Arabic language social media platforms on a weekly basis. The report is derived from crawling the web and indexing hundreds of thousands of Arabic-language, user-generated results on a daily basis. A more thorough explanation of our methodology follows the report. The Weekly Top 5 represents data collected throughout the Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world.

This week’s buzz was topped by the UAE’s 2-1 football win against Iraq, making them this year’s Gulf Cup champions. The majority of users cheered the UAE’s win, which they believed was well-deserved. Now two-time winners, the UAE team was hailed as the “Gold Knights” and “Cup Champs.” While some users commended the young players who represent the team’s “bright future,” others extended their thanks to head coach Mahdi Ali for creating a “golden generation” of players who are there to win.

Yemen Economist reader Mahmoud Saleh Gharib wrote:  “You deserve to win. You have got all the infrastructure for everything in your country. Congratulations and wish you all the best…”

Meanwhile, other users said the UAE’s victory did not take away from the Iraqi team’s impressive performance. Some also attacked the referees whom they accused of bias towards the UAE team.  For example, Al Jazeera reader Abu Adnan al-Kordy said: “Congrats for the large number of UAE spectators. Thanks for not respecting the Iraqi national anthem, thanks to the referee for his injustice. Thanks for beating the Iraqi goal keeper, and for the use of laser lights to distract the players. I am Iraqi and I am proud of my civilization…what have you offered to humanity?”

Week 4 Infographic

Meanwhile, the greatest buzz in the politics category was created by the Algerian army’s announcement that their operations in the BP complex had come to an end. The operations included a military raid on the Ain Amenas complex in which 23 hostages and 32 terrorists were killed. While some lauded the Algerian army and described it as the country’s “defense shield,” others criticized army enthusiasts and commented that real victory is in minimizing damage, not in randomly firing bullets and rockets. Another group of users objected to the Algerian generals’ policies, including their involvement in Mali, but still supported the army in its decisive actions on matters related to national security.

Forum member Mr. Ali wrote: “May God bless our sweet Algeria from any harm. A grand salute to the Algerian army.” However, Nabil, a reader on Elkhabar, had a different opinion: “I beg you to stop overreacting to the army’s victory in the raid. Any army in the world can strike targets, but the real victory comes with good crisis management and minimum damages.” Representing a third view, Mansouri Abdelkrim tweeted: “Do we support all the regime’s actions? No, and a thousand nos. I oppose the French war on Mali, and oppose allowing their fighter jets to pass through our airspace, but we have to be decisive against terrorism. Over!”

In the media category, Saudi users discussed the series finale of the stand-up comedy “Broadcast Show.” Presented by young Saudi stand-up comedian Ibrahim Saleh and airing on the YouTube channel Sa7iChannel, the final episode broadcast behind the scenes moments from the entire show. While some users were irritated by the show’s long commercial breaks, others were sad to see it coming to an end and asked Saleh and his team to either start a new show or work on a second season of “Broadcast Show.” Complaining about the commercial breaks, Hssaam Hhssaamm commented on YouTube: “I was devastated when I saw that Doritos ad. The episode is 6 minutes, but the ad is 3 minutes.”

Nevertheless, attitudes towards Saleh were generally positive, and many commended his humorous way of criticizing the negativities of Saudi society. Facebook user A7mad al-malki said: “You have an effective role in our society. You discussed important issues about youth. You made us laugh a lot.”

Though the economy rarely makes it to the top categories, Egyptian users this week were discussing price hikes, particularly the 15% increase in the prices of mobile phone pre-paid credit. This increase gave users enough reason to expect an increase in the prices of all commodities, as per the terms of an $4.8 billion IMF loan Egypt has been trying to negotiate. While some claimed that commodity prices have not risen, others claimed the opposite. Shorouk News reader Abubakr Gadala angrily wrote: “These are the blessings of Morsi’s Renaissance Project…. God curse the Muslim Brotherhood; since we saw their faces, we have been jinxed.”

Islamist users argued that mobile carries in Egypt decided to raise prices as part of a conspiracy against President Mohamed Morsi ahead of the scheduled January 25 protests. These users urged their peers to boycott mobile service providers and asked the government to set up a fourth, national mobile operator.  For example, Facebook user Omar Khadem Elislam said: “Let’s start a campaign to boycott the three cell phone providers for at least 2 days.”

Meanwhile, some offered each other tips on how to decrease their consumption of cell phones and recommended that users recharge their cell phones directly from their service providers to avoid the price hikes of retailers.

Finally, in the art category, Arab users mourned the death of Egyptian actor Waheed Seif at the age of 79. The majority of users expressed grief at the actor’s loss and prayed for him to rest in peace and in eternal Heaven, while others lamented the death of Egyptian icons in general, claiming that the newer generation of Arab actors are not as talented. Facebook user Hatim Merciel commented: “A road filled with giving. In Morocco, as well as in Egypt, there are a lot of legendary actors who left with no successors, unfortunately.”

However, some users (mostly Islamists) asked their peers to learn from the celebrities’ deaths that life was too short to waste on lust. Youm7 reader Walid Zeitar wrote: “After all the fame and glory, they end up buried beneath the dirt. Let us all learn something from that.”

Methodology

These results above are extracted from thousands of social media sources such as blogs, microblogs, forums, message boards, readers’ comment sections on news websites, etc, which are continually updated. A team of Arabic social media researchers and Arabic social media analysts use Arabic Natural Language Processing and data mining tools to analyze the data and to extract the list of top five subjects, based primarily on keyword repetition.

The Weekly Top 5 displays results of the common Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world, and is solely focused on Arabic language user-generated results, classified by volume of comments/discussion.

Data is captured primarily from 17 Arab countries in North Africa, the Levant, and the Arab Gulf region, and when relevant, the five other Arabic speaking countries belonging to the Arab League (Sudan, Somalia, Comoros, Djibouti and Mauritania).

Zero Dark Thirty Erupts In Controversy on Social Media

January 22, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty on Social Media

The controversial film Zero Dark Thirty has been a focus of social media attention since it was given a limited release in just five US theaters on December 19, 2012. We began tracking user reactions upon the film’s limited release and followed them throughout subsequent developments over the following weeks: five Oscar nominations on January 10, its nation-wide release on January 11 and the films topping of the US Box Office on January 13.

From December 19, 2012-January 19, 2013, we captured 370,000 user comments (from English-speaking, US-based users) on the film. From the perspective of content, social media users – like the film’s many critics – grapple with the portrayal of torture as an apparently effective technique in the global campaign against terrorism. Generally, users preferred Microblogs as their medium to dish on the film, with Twitter alone generating 200,000 comments (54% of the total volume captured). News websites and forums followed, with 67,000 (18%) and 48,000 (13%), respectively. Below is a chart of the volume of comments on the social media platforms:

Volume by platform

SPOILER ALERT: Discussion below may give away crucial plot elements

Zero Dark Thirty narrates the 10-year manhunt for terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden. Its name is a military term for 30 minutes after midnight, which is approximately the time a U.S. Navy SEAL team raided a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed Bin Laden on May 2, 2011. Since the film’s initial release, it has raised both controversy and acclaim.

The 157 minute film currently holds a critics’ rating of 7.7/10 on the Internet Movie Database (Imdb), 93% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and 95% metascore on Metacritic. Critics praise the artistry and boldness of the film, brought on by Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow.

Bigelow is an American filmmaker, celebrated as the first woman ever to win an Academy Award for Best Director category for her 2008 Iraq War film The Hurt Locker. Zero Dark Thirty is written by Bigelow’s longtime collaborator Mark Boal, and co-produced by Bigelow, Boal and Megan Ellison. The film stars Jessica Chastain as Maya, the CIA operative who searched for Bin Laden for 10 years until she succeeded in locating him, and Australian actors Joel ZDT commentEdgerton and Jason Clarke.

Zero Dark Thirty claimed the top spot in this year’s Golden Globes on January 14 for Best Actress. (It was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress.) The film has received five Academy Award nominations (Oscars) for Best Film, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Editing, and the winners will be announced on February 24, 2013.

Zero Dark Thirty – what users are saying

Among critics, Zero Dark Thirty has emerged as perhaps the most controversial film of 2012, and social media users were divided in their views of the movie. More than 50% of user comments were critical or somewhat critical of the film: they described it as “overrated”, “mediocre” and “racist” and said it “sucked” and “fostered torture”.  Users who lauded it (40%), did so fervently. They used terms such as “amazing”, “brilliant”, and “powerful” to laud the film, and repeatedly describe Bigelow as “talented”.  Some 10% of user comments analyzed reported news of the film – such as news of Oscar nominations and articles and/or reviews of the film – without expressing a personal opinion

Tweeps spoke highly of the film, yet readers of news websites, gave the film the thumbs down. One possible explanation for this is perhaps that Tweeps write what comes to their minds, and tend to be more influenced by the views of their peers on the microblogging website, while commentators on news websites, forums, and blogs are more influenced by more lengthy/elaborative articles they read on the film.

Jordan E. tweeted: “Gotta say zero dark thirty brought tears to my eyes! So glad we caught that motherfucker!” https://twitter.com/fuck_fuck_games/statuses/288149597304537088

Tweep MToy supports Jordan E.’s view: “Zero Dark Thirty……. Very Powerful. I haven’t seen a movie that good in a long time!!” https://twitter.com/mtoy24/statuses/292135475039313920

Karen Kjarsgaard thought the film was “brilliant… though certain scenes are very hard to sit through. ‘Silver Linings’ and ‘Argo’ still my faves.” https://twitter.com/dkbif/statuses/291995188883226624.

Other tweeps were critical of the film for its promotion of torture, propaganda to the Obama Administration, or for telling lies.

Trevor Timm slams the film in his tweet: “Saw Zero Dark Thirty last night. It’s a revolting, revisionist film that unequivocally—and falsely—portrays torture as effective.” https://twitter.com/trevortimm/status/286540901461946370 .

ProFootball Talk complains of the length of the film: “On an unrelated note, roughly 45 minutes could be trimmed from Zero Dark Thirty without changing the story in any way.” https://twitter.com/profootballtalk/status/292499094025404416.

ZDT user sentiment

Interestingly enough, 5% of users said they hadn’t seen the film, but expressed their intention to boycott it – mainly because of the controversy surrounding its reported portrayal of torture.

Dyanne comments on a news article on the film: “I didn’t plan to see it because I hate torture. This story only seals the deal for me in cement.” http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/268-35/15583-zero-dark-thirty-is-bin-ladens-last-victory

Oppositely, some voice excitement to watch the film: Fratfrican American tweeted:

“About to go see Zero Dark Thirty. Can’t wait to stand up and yell “DEAL WITH IT” when Osama gets that ass capped.” https://twitter.com/fratfricnmericn/statuses/292426164910292992 .

Controversy:

The film opens with a lengthy scene of the CIA officer Dan (Jason Clarke), torturing Saudi captive “Ammar” to force him to give away information on a Bin Laden courier named Abu Ahmed. This scene and many others that construe the movie have stirred an uproar in the social media. Many argue that the film endorses torture, while others say the film is a form of art and thus has license to depict factual information.

The tumult drove director Kathryn Bigelow to defend the film in an article she wrote for the Los Angeles Times on January 15, 2013. In addressing the criticisms of her depictions of torture, Bigelow answered that depiction is not endorsement:

While the matter of torture in the film, as well as Bigelow’s response to film critics, was a focus of debate, social media discussion extended beyond the debate over torture to other dimensions of the “war on terrorism”:

Kathryn's comment

ZDT discussed subjects

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques:

Torture was the main theme discussed by US social media users.  Almost 55% of the tweets on torture analyzed supported Bigelow’s view that the film is simply a depiction, not an endorsement of torture. On the other hand, comments on news websites, blogs, and forums showed more aversion to the film’s “endorsement” of torture.

Microblogs

The majority of tweets analyzed showed positive sentiment towards the film, stressing that it doesn’t promote torture but simple depicts fact.

Pakistani American stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani tweeted this funny comment in favor of the film: “Saying Zero Dark Thirty is pro torture is like saying Titanic is pro sinking.” https://twitter.com/kumailn/status/288460540139941889

Tweep and film critic Devin Faraci attacked Bigelow’s critics, stressing that the film doesn’t glorify torture: “I can’t wait for the Oscars to be over so I can stop reading dummies claiming ZERO DARK THIRTY glorifies torture.” https://twitter.com/devincf/status/289591332320706561

Singer Cher too defends the film’s depiction of torture, reminding her followers that Americans did torture detainees: “Katherine Bigelow is a GREAT DIRECTOR & we DID Torture ppl in The 2 Wars! Why is the Government ATTACKING HER FILM ? “ZERO DARK THIRTY”” https://twitter.com/cher/status/287290709327876097

On the other hand, some tweets clearly believe the film to be pro-torture. Some of them even hurl slurs at the film’s director and lead actress.

Palestinian-American journalist Ahmed Shihab-Eldin called the film “indefensible” on Twitter and “… #torture itself.” https://twitter.com/ase/status/282503303416389632

The prolific American political journalist Glenn Greenwald also criticized the film in a tweet: “Chris Hayes on Zero Dark Thirty: “It’s objectively pro-torture.””

https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/282504967741394944

Blogger and writer at the far left Gawker Adrian Chen attacked the glamorization of torture: “The true story of how a smoking hot supermodel killed Osama bin Laden using nothing but torture.” https://twitter.com/adrianchen/status/283046207226511362

News Websites, Blogs, and Forums

In the meantime, readers commenting on news websites reacted negatively towards the film; approximately 80% of their comments reflected negative sentiment towards what they regarded as the portrayal of torture as effective.

Reader GerryOregon commented on Bigelow’s LA Times article, and criticized: “Torture apologists make me sick.   She brings further disgrace and shame to this country.   She belongs in the sewer right next to Dick Cheney.” http://discussions.latimes.com/20/lanews/la-et-mn-0116-bigelow-zero-dark-thirty-20130116/10

True Democrat also attacked Bigelow: “The only torture would be going to any movie she is involved with.”http://discussions.latimes.com/20/lanews/la-et-mn-0116-bigelow-zero-dark-thirty-20130116/10

MrBetpower attacks the torture of detainees without trial: “What a crass article this is! And what US propaganda! This movie is nothing but blood money from the execution of a human being with no charge, jury in a court of law, or justice involved. If we can believe this is how (or if) it happened, that is. Same on the US military-government’s intrusion into Hollywood movies, which in this case, are certainly not entertainment. Unless, I guess, you get off on actually murdering people outside national and international law.” http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/268-35/15583-zero-dark-thirty-is-bin-ladens-last-victory

A few readers contended that the film merely reflected real events, whether movie-goers liked it or not.

Mira here commented on news of the film: “You should watch ZDT. You will realize that KB is not taking a position on torture. She is just narrating the story, putting it in front of the audience how the operation went through. Torture unfortunately is a part of that history and therefore her comment that depiction is not endorsement. She is not taking a stand on the legal and moral rights and wrongs of torture. Yes, torture is unacceptable BUT it was used and the CIA (or someone from the Bush government, I forget) has accepted that “enhanced interrogation methods” helped narrow down OBL’s courier. I don’t see anything wrong or offensive in this statement of KB.” http://www.celebitchy.com/274800/kathryn_bigelow_defends_zdt_torture_scenes_depiction_is_not_endorsement/#comment-13141384

GoodCapon argues that the torture scenes were few in the film, and showed that torture wasn’t effective to get prisoners to speak: “The torture scenes were only but a small part of the film and I think those who were complaining about it focused too much on it. From what was shown on the film, in the first part, they may have made some little progress using torture but in the end they got their break by outwitting the prisoner.” http://www.celebitchy.com/274800/kathryn_bigelow_defends_zdt_torture_scenes_depiction_is_not_endorsement/#comment-13141384

Arthur Blenheim also denies that the film shows torture as an effective information-gathering tactic: “Zero Dark Thirty” doesn’t depict torture working. It just depicts torture. And you’re missing the point: this movie is a “police procedural.” It’s not about torture. It’s about police work.” http://discussions.latimes.com/20/lanews/la-et-mn-0116-bigelow-zero-dark-thirty-20130116/10

Drone Strikes

Social media users seem to have been more active than film critics in discussing another of the more controversial aspects of the “war on terror” – drone strikes, mentions of which are frequent throughout the film. While this was only a minor component (7%) of the discussions, all users who focused on this criticized such strikes as un-American and attacked the film for depicting them. Talk of drone strikes in relation to the film was almost exclusively discussed on news websites and blogs.

Reader abienrml blasts the inconsistencies within the American left in their disposition to the Obama and Bush administrations, asking: “So you have a problem with water boarding but no problem with Obama killing people with drones. Liberals had a problem with the Patriot Act yet we hear no outrage over Obama’s executive order that allows him to gather any information on an American citizen without cause.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/zero-dark-thirty-torture_n_2288471.html

Reader Republitarian also asked: “Ha, and how many women and children has Obama killed with drone strikes? You liberal hypocrites make me sick with your moral perversity.”

http://discussions.latimes.com/20/lanews/la-et-mn-0116-bigelow-zero-dark-thirty-20130116/10

Pat remembers this scene from the film: “There is also the subtle moment where the Maya character is talking to a friend about some mundane thing (I don’t remember the exact gist of the conversation) at the exact moment she’s watching a drone explosion via satellite. It’s a pretty overt illustration of how deadened she’s become to what she’s doing. I don’t see how that’s meant to be a ‘wow, what a badass’ moment.” http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/zero-dark-thirty-is-osama-bin-ladens-last-victory-over-america-20130116

Very few users defended the use of torture and drones. Here is a sample of that: “People that saw the movie: you know the dude they are torturing is an ACTUAL terrorist? I feel horrible as an American that this stuff happened to innocent people, but to someone who helped fund terrorist attacks and was considered the 20th hijacker? Not so much.” http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/zero-dark-thirty-is-osama-bin-ladens-last-victory-over-america-20130116

Inaccuracies

Many users question the truthfulness of the film, split nearly evenly in their opinions as to whether or not the film factually and realistically portrayed the events surrounding the search for Bin Laden. Some believed the film’s accuracy and its narration of the truth didn’t appeal to the CIA, nor the Academy that decided to snub Bigelow for the Golden Globe’s Best Director category. Others contend that the film is inaccurate and a propaganda tool for the Obama Administration and a bid to “washout America’s history’.

Screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis published several critical tweets, among which: “The fact that Zero Dark Thirty never acknowledges or implicates US policies that led to 9/11 is what makes the movie such a moral washout.” https://twitter.com/breteastonellis/status/284576964315070465

Barry Bolton said Bigelow’s film sent a confusing message: “Bigelow still refused to answer the basic question:  Why does her film depict a tortured subject providing indispensable information leading to bin Laden, when she has zero evidence that such a thing ever happened, and when the Pentagon and the CIA insist that no crucial information came from tortured subjects?

That’s the only question she needs to answer.  Why did she choose to tell a lie instead of the truth?”

http://discussions.latimes.com/20/lanews/la-et-mn-0116-bigelow-zero-dark-thirty-20130116/10

Tweeter William Gibson quotes SEAL Team 6 who executed the operation that killed Bin Laden: “SEAL Team 6 calls Zero Dark Thirty inaccurate http://bit.ly/13ok93y

https://twitter.com/greatdismal/status/289849976413093888

DS supports the view that the film’s inaccuracy is the reason it has been so aggressively attacked: “In truth, most of ‘Hollywood’ (specifically, fellow filmmakers, producers, studio heads & the members of the voting committees) are snubbing the film due to the fact that it is disturbingly inaccurate, in parts – not simply because it might or might not offend their moral compass. In addition, many of these same people have expressed that they feel it was extremely over-hyped and not directed as well as other films that were released this past year.”

http://www.celebitchy.com/274800/kathryn_bigelow_defends_zdt_torture_scenes_depiction_is_not_endorsement/#comment-13141384

Others countered that people cannot handle the truth.

Stonedcommander said the film only narrated a story: “The movie just told the story as it happened, so I guess they rather see lies and bullpoop.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WIfuGDIZlhw

Facebooker Igor Pinchuk hails the film that is not a documentary, yet managed to be truthful: “This movie doesn’t have a political agenda, it doesn’t paint Obama in a negative light, it doesn’t endorse torture, it wanted to portray the reality of the events and wouldn’t not show torture if it was used, and finally the director said she is a PACIFIST. Enjoy that it’s not a blown out of proportion action movie like Black Hawk Down and actually tries to be as realistic as often as possible, despite being a movie and not a documentary. Good movie, go see it, and stfu super left and super right wingers. ENJOY.” https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=279872478802291&set=a.224507691005437.45892.221436571312549&type=1&comment_id=508876&offset=0&total_comments=45

Art or Propaganda?

Some discussions tried to tone down the buzz the film has caused, saying that it is just a film. The majority of users holding these discussions (65%) make this argument to defend the film. They believe it is a form of art and should be treated as such. Others claim the film is meant to make money out of the hardships both the Navy Seals and the al-Qaeda detainees have suffered. Those particularly see the film as propaganda for the CIA or the US generally.

Giraffee2012 describes the film as a cash cow: “It was a money maker – which is all a movie is supposed to do. That people ‘believe in’ the plots or wish them true is why Hollywood in any country makes these movies. Since the torture scenes give Cheney’s stupid theory credibility – I won’t spend a dime to see this movie! I want Cheney in jail and not applauded.” http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/268-35/15583-zero-dark-thirty-is-bin-ladens-last-victory

Noddlepips describes the film as fake that cannot be art: “’Zero Dark Thirty’ The fake film about the fake war on terror spewed out by our fake propaganda media lap dogs. All for the consumption of the ‘sheeple’ to keep them scared to death of the bearded brown people who live in fake caves. Next it will be ‘celebrity dark thirty’ followed by ‘American idle dark thirty’ and ‘wheel of fortune dark thirty.’”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/zero-dark-thirty-torture_n_2288471.html

Kalithea regards the film as pornographic: “Oh puhleez! There’s a difference between artistic license and BIASED propaganda, racist porno.” http://mondoweiss.net/2013/01/reviews-thirty-muslims.html/comment-page-1#comment-531948

Conversely, fewer users defended the film as possessing “poetic license”, which allows its makers to dramatize it to serve their vision. Chris Allen sees the film as seen by the unknown heroes on whom it is supposedly based and inspired: “@WSJ Zero Dark Thirty captures one of the most monumental stories in history through the eyes of our unsung heroes. Absolutely remarkable!” https://twitter.com/chriskshb/status/289378894342135809

Brinni stresses the film’s liberty to change facts, dates, etc: “It’s a movie! Poetic license, and all that. I recall there was no complaining when a torrent of movies depicted Bush in a bad light, some even imagining his assassination. The movie’s makers I’m sure are delighted with the free publicity.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2013/jan/03/senate-cia-zero-dark-thirty?CMP=twt_fd&CMP=SOCxx2I2

Islamophobia, Anti-Arab sentiment

A Tumblr thread of tweets and messages filled with hate speech against Arabs and Muslims fuelled other users against the film’s depiction of Muslims. The link has been attached to more than 100 other tweets, stirring user fear that the film might incite Islamophobia, or anti-Arab sentiment. Some reacted angrily to the film, but say that anti-Arab US films have long been a “staple of Hollywood” and are therefore unsurprising. Some film critics describe the film as “racist”, saying that it “enlightens” American audiences to hate Arabs.

Forum member Les argues that Americans cannot tell the difference between Arabs, Italians, and Iranians: “Anti-Muslim anti-Arab films are a staple of Holllywood. No wonder Americans don’t know enough to distinguish Christian Arabs from Muslim Arabs or Iranians from Arabs. The over-the-top racism of these images, Americans do get. Who put up the money for Zero Dark Thirty?” http://mondoweiss.net/2013/01/reviews-thirty-muslims.html/comment-page-1#comment-531948

Tumblr user Yukidama reacted to the hate speech coursing through Tumblr: “Fuck zero dark thirty…fuck Kathryn bigelow…fuck mark boal…fuck Jessica chastain… the rest of the cast fuck every award show giving this shit nominations and prizes fuck everyone giving this movie money uncritically fuck every racist piece of jingoist trash spewing violent hateful fantasies about killing muslim people and fuck every single thing on this list for further fueling anti-muslim sentiment and then daring to act like they’re somehow enlightened for it.”

http://ave-atque-vale.tumblr.com/post/40844069381/yukidama-fuck-zero-dark-thirty-fuck-kathryn

Jimmy Gargoyle addressed anti-Arab tweeps: “To everyone claiming their tweets against arabs about zero dark thirty are ‘not racist’ you are fucking nimrods, please eat shit and die.” https://twitter.com/grumpymanticore/statuses/292422974840111105

Megan Amram’s tweet against Arabs received 279 retweets and 432 favorites: “Should I see “Les Misérables” or “Lame-Ass Arab” (Zero Dark Thirty)” https://twitter.com/meganamram/status/284042157403303936

CIA Involvement

Bigelow and Boal based the film on CIA intelligence they were allowed access, a point which provoked a political uproar in the US, prompting  a US Senate committee to begin investigating (on January 3) how much information the CIA disclosed to the filmmakers and the extent of the CIA’s involvement. CIA officials admitted briefing the filmmakers, but insisted that Zero Dark Thirty is a “dramatization” of the CIA’s work.

Some users claim the film is made by the CIA. Others support the filmmakers being artists and stress that Zero Dark Thirty isn’t a documentary.

Davegowdey declared he will boycott the film because it is a “lie” and because it polishes the CIA’s global image: “The one thing that the CIA is truly good at is Public Relations. I won’t see this film because it is fundamentally a lie. It cheers an agency that took ten years to find a 6’4″ Arab that needs kidney dialysis and who was being safe housed by an intelligence agency that was supposedly our ally. Moreover, our elite SEAL team had a tremendous victory over essentially no opposition – and still crashed a helicopter.” http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/268-35/15583-zero-dark-thirty-is-bin-ladens-last-victory

Al21 attacked the film because it supports the continuation of the war on terror: “Bigelow is no dummy and knew exactly what she was doing. This may have been the price for the CIA helping her gain access to the information she wanted. Either way, it makes the Cheneys of this country very happy and leaves the door open to perpetuating the so-called war on terror which the powers that be, never ever want to end. Like the film– it’s a great money maker.”

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/268-35/15583-zero-dark-thirty-is-bin-ladens-last-victory

On this matter in particular, some users said that Bin Laden wasn’t killed in a US SEAL 6 raid in May 2011, but in April 2002 by kidney failure. They argue that Bin Laden was shot on spot, and then thrown in the sea. Some noted that SEAL 6 members are forbidden from speaking to the media about assassination of Bin Laden down.

Rachel Lichtman tweets: “The only scene missing from Zero Dark Thirty was of the CIA deciding to create a Bin Laden death narrative by making Zero Dark Thirty.”

https://twitter.com/djrotaryrachel/status/289588203441242112

Tonywicher claims that the US used Bin Laden to conceal the “real” perpetrators of 9/11: “Anybody who knows anything at all knows that bin Laden was only a patsy for the real perpetrators of 9/11, and that he died of kidney disease (Marfan’s syndrome) in early 2002. Hollywood is just another disinformation outlet for the CIA.”  http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/268-35/15583-zero-dark-thirty-is-bin-ladens-last-victory

Larrypayne cites a May 9, 2011, BBC video of Abbottabad residents who said that Bin Laden didn’t reside in the alleged compound, nor they said did any SEAL Team 6 execute any military operation there:

“I wonder ….  Bigelow and the CIA explain the news video made by an on-the-street BBC reporter in Abbottabad. The reporter interviewed over 50 residents of Abbottabad and only one out of the 50 thought the victim was Bin Laden. The old man watching the video who was supposed to be Bin Laden is holding the remote in his right hand. Bin Laden’s Most Wanted FBI poster says Bin Laden was left handed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1JWpgAWKEU.”

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/268-35/15583-zero-dark-thirty-is-bin-ladens-last-victory

No Oscar for Bigelow

On January 10, 2013, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced its Academy Awards Nominations for 2013, where winners will be announced and awarded in a ceremony on February 24. Zero Dark Thirty received five Oscar nominations for Best Film, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Editing. US users expressed astonishment and indignation that Bigelow was “snubbed” for an Oscar nomination.

The majority of users commenting on this matter (85%) attacked Bigelow’s exclusion from the nominations, saying that her exclusion was a political decision based on her peers’ view that Zero Dark Thirty’s endorsement of torture was the reason it didn’t get a nomination for Best Director. Others argued that Bigelow’s exclusion from the category was down to gender in an industry dominated by men. On the other hand, 10% of the comments analyzed on the Oscar nominations and Bigelow, expressed satisfaction that Bigelow was not nominated, because, in their view, she is a “mediocre” and “not-talented” director. The remaining 5% republished news of Bigelow’s failure to secure an Oscar nomination without expressing an opinion.

British CNN host Piers Morgan lauded the film in a tweet and found it ridiculous that Bigelow was snubbed from Oscar nominations: “Just seen “Zero Dark Thirty” – fantastic movie, superbly directed. Ridiculous that Kathryn Bigelow didn’t get an Oscar nom.” https://twitter.com/piersmorgan/status/289874916730363904

Tweep Lifestyle Mirror expressed surprise:  “Anyone else surprised Kathryn Bigelow not nominated for #ZeroDarkThirty? Another year of all-male Best Directors. #Oscars#OscarNoms.” https://twitter.com/lifestylemirror/status/289370185033474049

YouTube viewer Brainplay said Bigelow and her film simply did not rate: “…Let’s face it, Zero Dark Thirty was a mediocre movie posing as a documentary. Just like the Hurt Locker, it takes a lot of liberties and tries to push the idea that a single FEMALE rookie agent somehow found bin Laden mostly by herself. Over the top tough female is the key here as it’s what she’s pushing more than anything else. I mean seriously who says “motherfucker” to the SecDef when they meet for the first time?”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WIfuGDIZlhw

Pirated

Advance courtesy copies of Zero Dark Thirty used for screening the film to early critical audiences like film critics and journalists, have been pirated and a few users (negligible volume) announced it online. Some of them are happy they have got an “illegal” copy. Others are annoyed that the director has apparently done little to stop it. The pirated version is DVDScr quality, which is slightly lower quality than a retail DVD-Rip. Learn more about pirated movie release types from this article on Wikipedia.

NervisRex  expressed surprise that the film was available online: “Surprised she didn’t have anything to say about the fact her movie is already available online, before it’s even seen wide release, seeing how that is what she blamed the poor box office performance of her previous film on.” http://m.deadline.com/2013/01/zero-dark-thirty-movie-torture-controversy-debate/#comment-4543438

Carlee Andreas brags about having viewed the film ahead of its wide release: “Just saw Zero Dark Thirty illegally and it doesn’t even come out until Friday #winning #prettygood.” https://twitter.com/carzarddd/statuses/288895491092135936

Author of the bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army Jeremy Scahill joked about having a copy of the film before it was released: “Just got my “For Your Consideration” copy of “Zero Dark Thirty.” I’m told if I put a cloth on it & pour water on it, it leads to big things.” https://twitter.com/jeremyscahill/status/281839667282849792

*This Buzz Report is the first installation of a two-part report. Watch this space next month for Part II which will explore social media reactions in the Arab world.

The Weekly Top 5 January 13-17, 2013

January 18, 2013

As of the first week of January, we’ve added a new feature to the Buzz Report: the Weekly Top 5. The Weekly Top 5 report highlights the top five subjects which generated the largest volume of discussion across Arabic language social media platforms on a weekly basis. The report is derived from crawling the web and indexing hundreds of thousands of Arabic-language, user-generated results on a daily basis. A more thorough explanation of our methodology follows the report. The Weekly Top 5 represents data collected throughout the Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world.

The greatest buzz among Arab social media users this week was created by Saudi preacher and scholar Mohammed Al-Arefe’s Friday sermon at Cairo’s Amr ibn Al-As Mosque, in which he spoke to hundreds of worshippers about Egypt’s contributions to both the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Al-Arefe is a Salafist who enjoys considerable popularity in the Arab Gulf region, and is known throughout the Sunni Arab world. He is also active on social media, where, as of January 17, his Facebook page had 1,482,088 fans, while 148,897 people subscribe to his YouTube channel and 3.7 million people follow him on Twitter.

The majority of Islamist users commended Al-Arefe’s sermon and his love for Egypt, saying he should be honored and granted the Egyptian nationality for restoring Egyptians’ confidence. Meanwhile, government opponents saw the visit as a correction to the surge in ultra-conservative preachers that have distorted the image of Islam.

Religion soon turned into politics as Islamist and liberal users split over the visit. While some users criticized Al-Arefe for pleading with the Gulf to lend Egypt some money, Islamists accused secular powers of attacking Islamists regardless of their nationality. A number of users also sought Al-Arefe’s opinion on the humiliating treatment of Egyptians in Saudi Arabia as well as some of his controversial fatwas, or religious rulings.

User Together Against Muslim Brotherhood wrote: “Thank you Sheikh Arefe. We don’t want your or the Sauds’ money. Egypt doesn’t beg for money. If Egypt’s ruler and his clan beg, Egypt no longer becomes the leader.”  On the other hand, tweeter Twitterman Diaries said: “Don’t heed the barks of the dogs and pigs of secularism against Sheikh Mohammad Al-Arefe. The sermon touched the hearts of Egyptians, especially the poor ones.”

In the sports category, Algeria’s friendly football match with South Africa came on top, as Algerian users followed the warm-up game ahead of the African Nations Cup, which kicks off on January 19 in South Africa. Though the match ended in a 0-0 draw, some users approved of the Algerian team’s performance, arguing that the coach did not reveal all of the team’s cards. Others added that such warm-up games give players confidence ahead of important away games. For example, user Martin Mario wrote: “A good performance; it’s a very important game; it helps the players psychologically in combatting fear because they don’t have much experience in international games.”

On the other hand, a proportion of users were unsatisfied with the Algerian players’ performance and concerned that their team would not be able to win the upcoming tournament. Some users suggested alternative team line-ups for better chances at victory. Ghano Safa was among those concerned with her team’s performance: “No, I don’t feel good about this performance. May God help us and spare us the shame they might bring to us.”

 

Trends categories

Meanwhile, Kuwait took the spotlight in the politics category as members of the Kuwaiti opposition organized the ‘Karamet Watan 6’ (Dignity of a Nation) rally to demand the dissolution of parliament, which was elected last month in spite of a nationwide boycott. Organizers announced on Twitter that the rally ended at 9:30 pm Kuwait time on Sunday. A proportion of social media users supported the protests, saying it was organized, peaceful, and reflected the nation’s will. Some added that nothing will stop Kuwaitis from claiming their rights and that they will continue to protest until they revoke the single-vote system. Other users, however, attacked the protests. They said love of one’s nation should be reflected in one’s protection of the country’s security and unity. These users accused protesters of harboring hidden agendas to dismantle the nation.

Reader Kuwaiti Overseas commented on Al Jazeera website saying: “A salute to the brave Sabah al-Nasser rebels who are the lions of manhood and dignity. I urge my nationals to carry on their protests until Kuwait returns to the Arab embrace. Don’t stop! Reject dialogue until the parliament of shame and of Iran is dissolved!” On Sabr news website, however, reader Fares complained: “Go hold your protests in the city’s outskirts, not downtown!”

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, the 305th episode of the popular satirical podcast Ala al-Tayer (On the Run) stirred some controversy. Titled “Once Upon a Time,” the episode focused on issues that have shaken Saudi society over the past two weeks, including the labor minister’s new laws, medical insurance, and domestic violence exercised by foreign maids.  A large proportion of social media users praised the episode, yet criticized its attack on clerics and Islamic rulings. For example, user Waleed Alghamdi wrote: “Bless you for the effort you put in making this show, but I have a comment. Please don’t criticize men of religion and Islamic rulings.”

Others, however, were unimpressed with the show and played down its ability to trigger change in Saudi society, arguing that satirical shows only make their producers famous.  AbdulAziz tweeted: “What a pity that I wasted time to watch this silly show!” Likewise, reader Bandar wrote on Sabq news website: “They are looking for fame, as these shows do not change anything in society!”

Finally, Egypt was abuzz about a train derailment in Badrasheen, south of Cairo, that killed at least 19 people and wounded 107 others. While users paid their respect to the victims and their families, this too had political undertones, as the majority attacked Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood, Prime Minister Hisham Kandil and the newly-appointed transport minister. User Ramymasry commented on YouTube: “May God strike his anger and wrath on Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood who don’t care for the poor people’s blood!”

However, Islamist users and Morsi supporters accused remnants of the former regime and the opposition of staging the derailment of the train—which carried 1,328 conscripted soldiers—to obstruct the Islamist president’s policies and discredit him ahead of the parliamentary elections. These users found it suspicious that correspondents of an anti-Brotherhood channel were the first to report the crash: “Why was ONTV there at the time the accident occurred? Why is it the only channel that broadcasts the accident less than 15 mins after it happened,” wondered Nasr Alislam.

Meanwhile, others blamed the accident on the corrupt Egyptian National Railways, which they said lacked accountability. The popular Egyptian Facebook page We Are All Khaled Said posted: “The terrible negligence continues. Escape from responsibility continues, the search for a scapegoat continues, the popular indignation that will soon be forgotten continues…”

Methodology

These results above are extracted from thousands of social media sources such as blogs, microblogs, forums, message boards, readers’ comment sections on news websites, etc, which are continually updated. A team of Arabic social media researchers and Arabic social media analysts use Arabic Natural Language Processing and data mining tools to analyze the data and to extract the list of top five subjects, based primarily on keyword repetition.

The Weekly Top 5 displays results of the common Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world, and is solely focused on Arabic language user-generated results, classified by volume of comments/discussion.

Data is captured primarily from 17 Arab countries in North Africa, the Levant, and the Arab Gulf region, and when relevant, the five other Arabic speaking countries belonging to the Arab League (Sudan, Somalia, Comoros, Djibouti and Mauritania).

 

The Weekly Top 5 January 6-10, 2013

January 11, 2013

As of the first week of January, we’ve added a new feature to the Buzz Report: the Weekly Top 5. The Weekly Top 5 report highlights the top five subjects which generated the largest volume of discussion across Arabic language social media platforms on a weekly basis. The report is derived from crawling the web and indexing hundreds of thousands of Arabic-language, user-generated results on a daily basis. A more thorough explanation of our methodology follows the report. The Weekly Top 5 represents data collected throughout the Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world.

Though politics continued to form the largest proportion (49%) of social media discussions in the Middle East this week, art claimed the top spot as most discussed topic of the week as users enthusiastically followed the final episode of the popular talent show competition Voice of Hayat. The majority of social media users congratulated contestant Sherif Ismail on his win, saying it was well-deserved. For example, Facebook users Sandbad Hasham wrote: “Well, he deserves it; he is a real singing monster! He is the star of genuine Arabic music. MILLION congrats!”

Others, however, criticized what they considered an “old-fashioned” show and compared it to the Arab versions of American and European talent shows like MBC’s The Voice. Another group of users expressed a desire for more meaningful and useful TV contests that strengthen people’s morals and values: “I wish they would produce a show that teaches about morals on Hayat TV,”   wrote Mohammed Mustafa.

Image

 

The most-discussed topic in the politics category this week was Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s rare public address to his supporters at the Damascus Opera House, where he offered the nation a peace plan that includes a ceasefire, the formation of a new government and the release of all detainees. This plan was immediately rejected by the opposition as well as a sizeable proportion of social media users, who saw it as a stratagem to prolong his stay in power without offering any real solutions to the 21-month conflict in Syria. Others compared Al-Assad’s “detachment from reality” to that of former Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and expected the Syrian leader to face the same fate. Meanwhile, a smaller proportion of users supported Al-Assad’s peace token and believed it to be the only logical solution to the crisis.

 

User Mukdam Riyad said: “This talk is nonsense and won’t defuse the crisis one bit.” However, Al-Arabiya reader Adel had a different opinion:  “This proves that the regime fully understands the situation in the country. I wish the opposition bloc would unite and end their resort to blood and war.”

 

Meanwhile, sports this week were dominated by discussions of the 21st Gulf Football Cup, which kicked off in Manama, Bahrain on Saturday. While the inauguration was the top topic in this category, games and events related to the Cup continued to generate a buzz throughout the week.  Users of different Gulf states supported their respective teams, while Emirati uses in particular were happy that their national team won the first match of the tournament.  Reader Sulaiman Abdullah al-Katibi wrote: “To UAE haters, die in anger!!!!! Our team will win and may God protect the children of Zayed from envy!”

 

Other discussions of the tournament, however, turned to politics. While some users were excited that King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa attended the opening ceremony, wishing him a long and healthy life, others cursed the King and called for his overthrow. User Azo Altamimi commented: “I hope you fall in a deep well, you dirty Hamad!”At the other end of the spectrum, user A Word of Truth said: “May God bless you, protector of our country. God grant you long life and health, our King. Thank You!”

 

Once again, the religion category was dominated by popular Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled and his advice to his fans. This week, Khaled stressed the importance of showing empathy towards others as a sign of one’s generosity. The majority of users drew a connection between Khaled’s words and those of late Muslim scholar Mohammad Metwalli Al-Shaarawi and discussed Islam’s calls for showing care towards other Muslims. Contemplating Khaled’s words, user Glamourgirl Eyes said: “Some people do not appreciate what others do for them. This is a sign of arrogance, I guess!” While the majority of users expressed positive sentiments towards Khaled, some criticized him for attending a Christmas celebration on the eve of Coptic Christmas on January 7.

 

Finally, the unusual wave of cold weather throughout the Middle East this week also generated a lot of buzz. In Egypt, the coastal city of Alexandria was flooded with heavy rainfall. Users shared pictures of the damage caused by inclement weather and accused the city’s governor and his Muslim Brotherhood deputy of not taking the necessary precautions ahead of the winter season. They also drew comparisons between the current governor and his Mubarak-era counterpart. User George Eskander joked: “Alexandria doesn’t need a governor. Alexandria needs a plumber!” On a more serious note, user Mohamed MợşħkëĻa sarcastically said: “The government is doing its job by dozing off comfortably under their blankets. Thanks to the officials for their ongoing negligence!”

 

Others, however, responded by arguing that the city’s infrastructure had been destroyed due to wear and tear, with Islamist users accusing anti-Islamists of exaggerating the situation in Alexandria and ignoring the fact that the world’s cities are flooded with rainfall every winter. User Amr Metwally defended the Islamist government saying: “If you are interested in facts, no sewage system in the world could manage this extra-huge amount of rain water. This is seen in London and throughout the whole world.”

 

Methodology

 

These results above are extracted from thousands of social media sources such as blogs, microblogs, forums, message boards, readers’ comment sections on news websites, etc, which are continually updated. A team of Arabic social media researchers and Arabic social media analysts use Arabic Natural Language Processing and data mining tools to analyze the data and to extract the list of top five subjects, based primarily on keyword repetition.

 

The Weekly Top 5 displays results of the common Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world, and is solely focused on Arabic language user-generated results, classified by volume of comments/discussion.

 

Data is captured primarily from 17 Arab countries in North Africa, the Levant, and the Arab Gulf region, and when relevant, the five other Arabic speaking countries belonging to the Arab League (Sudan, Somalia, Comoros, Djibouti and Mauritania).