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Social Media Users at Twitter, Instagram Go ‘Blue’ in Support of Sudan

The Army cracked down on the demonstrators and destroyed the encampment, the nerve centre of the protest that led to the overthrow of long-running President Omar al-Bashir on April 11

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Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps are displayed on an iPhone, March 13, 2019, in New York. VOA

In a bid to raise awareness about the current volatile situation in Sudan, social media users in large numbers have turned their profile picture blue.

While some Twitter and Instagram users have made the profile picture circle appear solid blue, others posted a solid blue square as an image. Some have done both.

Instagram has so far recorded close to 18,000 posts with the hashtag #BlueForSudan.

“It is time to stand hand in hand. Their voices must be heard. #BlueForSudan,” wrote one Twitter user.

“Ignorance is worse than violence.. Stand with Humanity, Stand with #sudan #BlueForSudan,” wrote another.

Some users have also posted the drawing of a crying woman wearing a hijab to draw attention to the political crisis in the north African country.

The violence in Sudan followed a couple of months after the ouster of long-running President Omar al-Bashir on April 11.

UN Chief, Sudan Protesters
Sudanese protesters use burning tires to erect a barricade on a street, demanding that the country’s Transitional Military Council hand over power to civilians, in Khartoum, Sudan, June 3, 2019. VOA

The trigger for social media users to turn blue was the death of a young man who was allegedly killed during a crackdown on protesters on June 3.

“Those who are taking part in spreading #BlueForSudan. The colour blue came from a warm hearted, martyr known as, Mohammed Hashim Mattar, my cousin who has passed away on the 3rd of June, as he was standing proud. Blue was his fav colour, which now presents unity. Mattar’s Blue,” tweeted one user.

To honour his death, Mattar’s friends and family put up the blue colour on their profiles, but others soon followed.

The Sudanese government last Thursday said that 46 people were killed in “recent events” that began with an assault on a protest camp earlier this week in the capital Khartoum, while the opposition Committee of Doctors said at least 108 people had died.

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In what was the first official death toll since a military crackdown on a camp that had been set up for two months, the Sudanese Undersecretary for the Health Ministry, Suleiman Abdul Jabbar, said in a statement that the toll had not reached 100, Efe news reported.

Sudanese security forces last Monday raided an encampment that had been set up in front of the Army headquarters since April 6 and began firing to clear the area.

The Army cracked down on the demonstrators and destroyed the encampment, the nerve centre of the protest that led to the overthrow of long-running President Omar al-Bashir on April 11. (IANS)

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Are you an Avid Twitter User? Your Posts can Reveal How Lonely you are

If we are able to identify lonely individuals and intervene before the health conditions associated with the themes we found begin to unfold, we have a change

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Loneliness can be a slow killer, as some of the medical problems associated with it can take decades to manifest. Pixabay

Researchers have found that users who tweet on loneliness are much more likely to write about mental well-being issues and things like struggles with relationships, substance use and insomnia on Twitter.

By applying linguistic analytic models to tweets, researchers were able to gain an insight into the topics and themes that could be associated with loneliness.

“Loneliness can be a slow killer, as some of the medical problems associated with it can take decades to manifest,” said the study’s lead author Sharath Chandra Guntuku, from University of Pennsylvania in the US.

“If we are able to identify lonely individuals and intervene before the health conditions associated with the themes we found begin to unfold, we have a change to help those much earlier in their lives. This could be very powerful and have long-lasting effects on public health,” Guntuku said.

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By applying linguistic analytic models to tweets, researchers were able to gain an insight into the topics and themes that could be associated with loneliness. Pixabay

By determining typical themes and linguistic markers posted to social media that are associated with people who are lonely, the team has uncovered some of the ingredients necessary to construct a ‘loneliness’ prediction system.

As part of the study, published in the journal BMJ, researchers analysed public accounts from users based in Pennsylvania and found that 6,202 accounts used words such as ‘lonely’ or ‘alone’ more than five times between 2012 and 2016.

Comparing the entire Twitter timelines of these users to a matched group who did not have such language included their posts, the researchers showed that ‘lonely’ users tweeted nearly twice as much and were much more likely to do so at night.

When the tweets were analysed via several different linguistic analytic models, the users who posted about loneliness had an extremely high association with anger, depression and anxiety, when compared to the ‘non-lonely’ group.

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Additionally, the lonely groups were significantly associated with tweeting about struggles with relationships (for example, using phrases like ‘want somebody’ or ‘no one to’) and substance use (‘smoke,’ ‘weed,’ and ‘drunk’)

“On Twitter, we found lonely users expressing a need for social support, and it appears that the use of expletives and the expression of anger is a sign of that being unfulfilled,” Guntuku said.

Users in the group that didn’t post about loneliness seemed to display some social connections, as they were found to be more likely to engage in conversations, especially by including others’ user names (using ‘@twitter_handle’) in their tweets.

In the future, the researchers hope to develop a better measure of the different dimensions of loneliness that online users are feeling and expressing. (IANS)