Visualising Conflict on Twitter: The Past and the Professional
As part of our Twitter analysis, we looked at the range of images circulating in relation to defence issues. One category of images that emerged was representations of particular conflicts where we collected 318 ‘unique’ images in total. (By ‘unique’ we mean they appeared at least once in the dataset as depicted in the infographic below.)
We found that images of historical conflict were represented far more than contemporary conflict, particularly in relation to the memorialisation and remembrance of war.
This focus on the ‘past’ and commemoration not only challenges assumptions that Twitter predominantly depicts the ‘now’ but also raises critical questions as to what representing the ‘now’ of conflict means. Even among those images depicting contemporary and current warfare – such as the conflict in Afghanistan in 2014 – there were a number of images representing past casualties and memorialisation.
With this in mind, we also found that the majority of images of Afghanistan were ‘professional’ in both aesthetic and authorship. Few of the images were posted by serving or former military personnel, a finding that challenges the idea that social media platforms are places where ‘raw’, ‘amateur’ or ‘alternative’ images of conflict often circulate.