James Foley: Sharing Beheading Video is a Crime, Police Says; #ISISmediaBlackout Erupts

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | August 21, 2014 10:41 AM EST

The world has gone up against the terror group Islamic State in Iraq. Sans military artillery of mass destruction, the global populace put up a united front against the militant group right on social media where ISIS put for all to see the video beheading of US photojournalist James Foley. The hashtag #ISISmediaBlackout erupted immediately after the video went up on YouTube.

REUTERS/Stringer
A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa June 29, 2014.

A woman with the Twitter handle @LibyaLiberty was reportedly the one who created the hashtag and implored the world's social media users to use it against the ISIS.

Read: ISIS Weakened by US Airstrikes, Kurdish Forces Move To Retake Mosul Dam

On Tuesday, the ISIS released a video on YouTube showing the beheading of Foley. The gruesome murder was likewise shared on Twitter.

Both social media companies immediately worked on deleting the video.

"In order to respect the wishes of loved ones, Twitter will remove imagery of deceased individuals in certain circumstances. Immediate family members and other authorized individuals may request the removal of images or video of deceased individuals, from when critical injury occurs to the moments before or after death, by sending an e-mail to privacy@twitter.com. When reviewing such media removal requests, Twitter considers public interest factors such as the newsworthiness of the content and may not be able to honor every request," Twitter said, mentioning its policy.

Read: US Slams Conspiracy Theory with ISIS

Even the Twitter account of Zaid Benjamin, Radio Sawa's Washington correspondent, who seems to have broken the news of the execution, was temporarily blocked. Twitter told him his tweet of the video had been deleted.

Law enforcement officials in the U.K warned social media users that sharing Foley's murder video is tantamount to crime and that they can be arrested under terrorism legislation.

That the Jihadist group ISIS purportedly uploaded the gruesome beheading video on YouTube was a stunt well encapsulated in the group's campaign. Many have pointed out the group largely uses social media in recruiting new members and in disseminating their Islamist ideology to the world.

Read: ISIS Launches 'Caliphate' Passport, Openly Distributes Leaflets inLondon

Dick Costolo, Twitter's chief executive, has explicitly said accounts that have shared the video will be suspended.

Gary Pruitt, president and CEO of the Associated Press, said the ISIS should be held accountable for what happened to Foley.

"We believe those who kill journalists or hold them hostage should be brought to justice," Pruitt said. "Further, we believe the assassination of a journalist in wartime should be considered an international crime of war."

Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy said the video uploading was every inch "a stage-managed event."

"They want it to go viral, they want as many people in the world to look at it. So in many ways by sharing them and propagating, we fall into their hands," the Irish Times quoted Conroy.

Read: ISIS Recruits Children, Brainwashes Them to Kill Christians; Vatican Says Military action 'Probably Necessary'

Foley was an experienced correspondent who had covered the war in Libya.

He was then transferred to Syria to report the revolt against Bashar al Assad for the AFP and other news outlets. It was there that he was captured in 2012.

This was Foley's last piece on Syria (here).

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(Photo: REUTERS/Stringer / REUTERS/Stringer)
A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa June 29, 2014.
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