Is Sharing James Foley’s Beheading Video Helping ISIS?

August 20, 2014: Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL) insurgents posted a video on Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of photojournalist James Foley and images of another reporter whose life they said depended on how the United States acts in Iraq.

James Foley

Although the released footage has not been formally authenticated by the United States government, several social media users have started a campaign against sharing the graphic images that appear to show the killing.

The U.S. journalist’s family also requested people not to share or watch the video of the beheading.

Kelly Foley, believed to be a cousin, posted the following note on Twitter:

A Facebook page for Foley posted a message from his mother Diane Foley says:

"We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.”

“Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.”

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It’s a well-documented fact, how ISIS is a more powerful militant force than the notorious al-Qaeda group since their members are using new mediums like the Internet to intimidate enemies.

The fighters of this terrorist group are not only battling with rival armed forces on-ground, but they are also spreading fear and recruiting new followers through propaganda videos on different social media websites.

This is exactly where the #DontShare online campaign comes in. #DontShare is an online campaign which came to life after news of James Foley’s death emerged. The campaignwants people to stop giving what the ultimate goal of the ISIS is – to spread terror. The movement calls for an “ISIS media blackout.”

Many users, including the US Muslim Public Affairs Council, argued that sharing images would help the militants deliver their propaganda.

However, not all people support the campaign, claiming the world needs to realize the magnitude of the problem that it’s facing.

YouTube removed the video shortly after it was released but it’s not yet clear for how long exactly it remained online.

A spokesperson from the popular video sharing website reportedly said the company had "clear policies that prohibit content like gratuitous violence, hate speech and incitement to commit violent acts, and we remove videos violating these policies when flagged by our users".

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People might debate on whether the gruesome footage be shared or not. However, keeping James Foley’s family’s request into consideration, it would definitely be ethically appropriate – at least for media giants like CNN – to stop airing and/or pull the disturbing video.

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