The Arab Spring brought hopes of a "Twitter revolution" where ordinary people could use the power of social media to bring about positive political change. Now it looks like the world's terrorists, dictators, and rogue states have also caught on that Twitter and Facebook have their uses.
Here are three of the most terrible human rights offenders updating their statuses right now:
The Taliban on Twitter
Ebadullah Talwar, the deputy police chief in Afghanistan's Kunduz Province, told The New York Times this morning that two gunmen on a motorcycle had opened fire on a senior Afghan election official, who later died at a hospital from the wounds.
The group who claimed responsibility, however, turned to social media to send its announcement of the murder:
امروز ۹ بجه قبل از ظهر درمنطقهء تخارستان شهر کندز رئيس کميسيون انتخابات اين ولایت اينجينيرمحمدامان ازطرف مجاهدين به ضرب ګلوله به قتل رسيد .
— zabihullahmujahid (@zabihmujahid) September 18, 2013
In case you can't understand what that says, it's Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, writing (according to the Times):
At 9 a.m. this morning, Engineer Mohammad Aman head of Kunduz Independent Election Commission was killed by our Mujahedeen in Takharistan area of Kunduz city. [New York Times]
Mujahid is no newcomer when it comes to social media. He has been tweeting since the summer of 2012, and uses Facebook to spread his message as well. If this is any indication, it looks like the days of the Taliban sending videotapes to major news organizations is over.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Instagram
In July, Assad tried to put a positive sheen on the violent civil war that had killed more than 100,000 Syrians by opening an Instagram account. (He also has a Twitter and Facebook account).
It started with pictures of him waving at smiling crowds; now, however, he has acknowledged the ongoing chemical weapons drama by posting a couple of photos from his interview with Charlie Rose, in which he claimed there was "no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people."
Most of the photos, however, are still positive PR photos, many featuring his British-born wife Asma al-Assad — once the subject of a fawning Vogue profile — doing volunteer work.
North Korea on Twitter and YouTube
North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has been busy racking up human rights violations and likely restarting his country's Yongbyon nuclear reactor. What he hasn't been doing is paying a designer to spruce up North Korea's remarkably amateurish-looking Twitter page:
Perhaps most disturbing of all is its YouTube page, filled with videos of military marches and Kim Jong Un giving speeches. Oh, and this music video featuring Hyon Song Wol singing "A Girl In The Saddle Of A Steed."
Hyon was rumored to be Kim Jong Un's girlfriend — before, a South Korean newspaper reported, she was executed by firing squad for allegedly making pornography.