As the world news frequently comes up with graphic pictures of hundreds of Syrians losing their lives in the country’s civil war, the Syrian presidency tried to win global support of internet users across the world by creating an Instagram page for themselves.
Under the name of ‘Syrian Presidency,’ the Instagram account features happy pictures of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the British born first lady, Asma al-Assad, smiling at the people of their nation and doing charity work. Of course, the reality in the country is far different from what is portrayed through the Instagram handle, as al-Assad who has been accused of waging a chemical war against his own people, is seen happily waving to crowds of people and speaking to injured in the hospital beds.
In spite of the happy and heroic pictures of the Syrian president and the first lady, the people of the nation and thousands of users of the online application are not likely to be fooled. While, a few comments on various pictures commented on the wonderful dressing sense of the first lady, and while others called her a ‘beautiful heart’ and labeled President al-Assad, as a ‘hero,’ many of the comments that were soon deleted through by the Instagram handle were not all praises and good words for the government.
Few comments criticized the Syrian government for portraying a hypocritical image for themselves. As while hundreds of innocent civilians were dying every day, the government looked busy uploading decent pictures of themselves to sell out a friendly image of the presidency that is apparently feeding itself on the lives of innocent civilians.
One comment read, “I love ur designer clothes and shoes … paid for by the blood of your people! Seriously, u make Marie Antoinette look like an angel compared to you!”
While other comments read, “This is not Syria” “Show us the real Syria please.”
Over the course of two years since the civil war started, the Syrian government that had been doing little to work for its civilians or create a better image for themselves in the international media, only recently realized how important it is to gain public respect as well. However, as the warm image portrayed through the Instagram handle of the government is constantly being labeled as hypocritical by millions of online users, the Syrian government might have learned a few lessons, one of which being, probably social media is not the best tool for them to promote an angelic picture of the presidency.
Why the social media is not an effective method of just feeding in the people of a certain agenda is because unlike traditional forms of media, the social media allows millions of viewers the opportunity to give their feedback and analysis. Through the advent of journalism in every forum, no one is alienated to the situation of Syria. Every follower of international news around the world is likely to know about the increasing death tolls in Syria, and the state of anarchy that the country has been going through since the last two years. With so much of information already in the hands of the people, it is certainly not easy to manipulate or feed thoughts into the heads of the masses.
This was probably something the Syrian presidency did not consider while creating an account displaying only hearty images, with no bloodshed in sight. Truly, that is not just what Syria is about. As the death toll reached a whopping 100,000 in the month of July, the same month when the Syrian Presidency Instagram account was created, it is generally not possible for millions of online users to put aside the graphic images of bloodshed and dead bodies coming from the same land that instead displays smiling graduates and a lovable presidency.
Hypocritical or not, but certainly a bad PR stunt by the Syrian Presidency!