Social media inflames news cycle of Quran burning

Sep 10, 2010 By JAKE COYLE , AP Entertainment Writer
Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center speaks to the media, Friday, Sept.10, 2010 in Gainsville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

(AP) -- The swelling story of a tiny Florida church's plan to burn copies of the Quran is raising questions of news judgment not only for the media, but for Web users and readers, too.

In the social era, everyone's a news editor.

Several news organizations, including The Associated Press, have said that they won't distribute photos or video of Qurans being burned. But even if the media exhibits self-control in covering the story, the Internet almost surely will not.

Should Quran burning demonstrations happen on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks - or any other day - it's likely images will find their way to interested readers online, by way of social media, blogs, e-mail and elsewhere.

That means users will be left to decide if they want to seek out such material, urge its removal or simply ignore it altogether.

Ahead of the planned burning of the Muslim holy book on Saturday, news organizations have been grappling with how to appropriately cover the events, should Rev. Terry Jones go ahead with his plans. Jones has said he won't follow through with the burning if he's able to meet in New York on Saturday with the organizers behind a mosque planned near ground zero.

President Barack Obama said Friday that burning the Quran would be contrary to what America stands for and could pose a threat to Americans in uniform.

Like many websites with enormous amounts of content, counts on the diligence of its users to police itself.

The Inc.-owned video site depends on users to flag a video that violates YouTube's policies. Those policies include removing any video that contains hate speech and incitement to violence. If a video is flagged, YouTube policy enforcers will judge whether the video is indeed in violation of terms and possibly remove it or place a warning page before it.

YouTube would not comment specifically about videos of burning Qurans, but the company said in a statement: "Because YouTube is a platform for free expression of all sorts, we take great care when we enforce our policies. We try to allow as much content as possible on the site and still ensure that our community guidelines are followed."

Facebook similarly relies on self-regulation. It, too, wouldn't comment directly about the Quran story, but referred to guidelines established to ensure a "a safe and trusted environment." The site notes that "we don't typically take down groups or pages that speak out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas."

More than 16,000 people have clicked that they "like" the Facebook page named "International Burn a Koran Day." It exclaims that "Islam is of the devil."

The page was reviewed by Facebook but allowed to remain because it doesn't violate the site's terms of service. Facebook continues to monitor it.

Many of those commenting on the page have argued against it, and a rival page dubbed "Stop the Burning of the Quran" has attracted more than 13,000 "likes."

How the plans of a pastor with a very small following in Gainesville, Fla., became national news has been debated by the media and its critics. The origins of the story - which began in Florida and has spread to Afghanistan - have been traced like a disease outbreak.

But Sarah Lacy, a writer at the tech blog Techcrunch, wrote on Thursday that "the media-audience infinite loop," not the media, should be blamed.

" has given the world a persistent, open conversation," wrote Lacy. "On stories like this one, media has to choose to respond or not to a story that's already been legitimized and publicized. This was a conversation before NPR, BBC or any other major news outlet weighed in. Once it has become enough of a conversation that world leaders were having to comment - how does the media not cover that?"

Instead, Lacy suggested readers should simply "stop paying attention" if they want the media coverage to go away.

Explore further: Vatican's manuscripts digital archive now available online

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User comments : 29

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otto1932
1.2 / 5 (17) Sep 11, 2010
I put a Quran app on my iPhone and it wiped out all my music. Seriously. Islamists don't like music. Should I burn my iPhone or just delete the app? Ortho Jews will not type out the word g_d because deleting it would show disrespect. Also, I have some pictures of the American flag on my iPhone, which complicates the whole thing. What am I to do?
Signed, consternated
otto1932
1 / 5 (15) Sep 11, 2010
Instead, Lacy suggested readers should simply "stop paying attention" if they want the media coverage to go away.
-But we're not SUPPOSED to stop paying attention! That's the whole freaking POINT!!!
otto1932
1 / 5 (16) Sep 11, 2010
If your house was on fire which should you save first- your dog or your Quran? Bin ladens 3rd? wife died in the wreckage of her house because, in order to save her, they would have had to remove her niqab, and she didn't want that.
otto1932
1 / 5 (14) Sep 11, 2010
I put a Quran app on my iPhone and it wiped out all my music. Seriously. Islamists don't like music. Should I burn my iPhone or just delete the app? Ortho Jews will not type out the word g_d because deleting it would show disrespect. Also, I have some pictures of the American flag on my iPhone, which complicates the whole thing. What am I to do?
Signed, consternated
What, frajo, you don't think religionists sweat over questions exactly like this?? Anyone who is concerned about deleting the word G_O_D from their computer, because god (oops) would note their lack of respect, is the kind of person who would also be concerned about deleting an entire Quran. Unless they think it is only good for toilet paper.

I'm trying to make a point here.
CarolinaScotsman
5 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2010
If one small time religious nut job can find a way to get this much publicity, do you think he or his equally publicity hungry foes will shrink from controversy. It is exactly these small and unimportant fleas who are holding an entire world hostage. They deserve nothing more than absolute obscurity.
marjon
1.7 / 5 (6) Sep 12, 2010
Muslims burn Bibles all the time. There is no news coverage.
Why should it be news that Christians burn Korans?
One reason is Muslims become violent which makes the media cower in fear.
It is also quite disingenuous for media to publish and praise Wikileak stories that could harm US personnel overseas, but condemn Koran burnings because US personnel overseas could be harmed.
dutchman
not rated yet Sep 13, 2010
It just shows that instead of REAL news reporters, the lunatic fringe are driving the headlines.
otto1932
1.5 / 5 (17) Sep 13, 2010
Muslims burn Bibles all the time.
No they don't.
marjon
3 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2010
Muslims burn Bibles all the time.
No they don't.

""As a matter of official policy, the government either incinerates or dumps Bibles, crosses and other Christian paraphernalia," the Saudi Institute said in an article posted on its website.

"Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Koran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia, and is confiscated and destroyed by government officials," it said."
otto1932
1 / 5 (14) Sep 13, 2010
Muslims burn Bibles all the time.
No they don't.

""As a matter of official policy, the government either incinerates or dumps Bibles, crosses and other Christian paraphernalia," the Saudi Institute said in an article posted on its website.

"Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Koran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia, and is confiscated and destroyed by government officials," it said."
So?
marjon
3 / 5 (4) Sep 13, 2010
Muslims burn Bibles all the time.
No they don't.

""As a matter of official policy, the government either incinerates or dumps Bibles, crosses and other Christian paraphernalia," the Saudi Institute said in an article posted on its website.

"Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Koran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia, and is confiscated and destroyed by government officials," it said."
So?

So Muslims do burn the Bible.
otto1932
Sep 13, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
marjon
3 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2010
"The Saudi government burns and desecrates hundreds of bibles its security forces confiscate after raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately or at border crossings.



As a matter of official policy, the government either incinerates or dumps bibles, crosses and other Christian paraphernalia.

Hundreds of Christian worshipers are arrested every year by Saudi police in raids on their private gatherings. Bibles, crosses and printed materials are confiscated and later burnt or dumped into trash. Bibles and other Christian paraphernalia found with travelers into the country are confiscated and destroyed. "
http://www.freere...90/posts
otto1932
1 / 5 (13) Sep 13, 2010
Huh. That might be true.

Where else? Saudis are like 1% of moslemdom.
marjon
3 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2010
"In the end, the data back what AsiaNews has reported on several occasions. Anti-Christian violence is up in Indonesia and Muslim extremists are increasingly targeting Christians.

So far in 2010, Muslim radicals have disrupted religious services, stopped Christians from attending Mass, destroyed Christian places of worship and prevented the construction of new churches."
http://www.asiane...043.html
This is in Indonesia.
frajo
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 13, 2010
"The Saudi government burns and desecrates hundreds of bibles its security forces confiscate after raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately or at border crossings.
...

http://www.freere...90/posts

I don't consider the "freerepublic" site to be a serious site. Nevertheless I followed your link and found that the text on that site you were quoting from doesn't contain any sources. That doesn't enhance their credibility.
I don't have any reason to favour the government of one of the most reactionary countries on this planet, but as long as there are no official sources which confirm the "freerepublic's" claim I'm skeptical.
trekgeek1
1 / 5 (1) Sep 13, 2010
"The Saudi government burns and desecrates hundreds of bibles its security forces confiscate after raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately or at border crossings.



As a matter of official policy, the government either incinerates or dumps bibles, crosses and other Christian paraphernalia.

Hundreds of Christian worshipers are arrested every year by Saudi police in raids on their private gatherings. Bibles, crosses and printed materials are confiscated and later burnt or dumped into trash. Bibles and other Christian paraphernalia found with travelers into the country are confiscated and destroyed. "


Hmmmmm......... maybe they're not so bad. They may just be redeemable.

But it seems that this is a government policy, not specifically a religious policy. True, they are ruled by Sharia law, but I still see a difference between an action commanded in the name of religion, and an action taken by a group composed of a majority of that religion.
marjon
2 / 5 (4) Sep 13, 2010
"The Saudi government burns and desecrates hundreds of bibles its security forces confiscate after raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately or at border crossings.
...

http://www.freere...90/posts

I don't consider the "freerepublic" site to be a serious site. Nevertheless I followed your link and found that the text on that site you were quoting from doesn't contain any sources. That doesn't enhance their credibility.
I don't have any reason to favour the government of one of the most reactionary countries on this planet, but as long as there are no official sources which confirm the "freerepublic's" claim I'm skeptical.

Having lived there, read the Arab News everyday and been in contact with the Philippine Consulate, I have no doubt it is true.
frajo
5 / 5 (5) Sep 13, 2010
It is indicative how violent conflicts between Christian and Muslim groups of populations are reported in the Western world. See this article by CNN: http://articles.c...PM:WORLD
Several times it is explicitly mentioned that Muslim groups killed Christian people. But nowhere it is explicitly mentioned that Christian groups killed Muslim people, too. Instead, CNN hides this fact by formulating "The attacks Wednesday followed the massacre earlier this month of roughly 200 people near Jos", It was a massacer of Muslims by Christians. A more thruthful account of the Nigerian events can be read in the NYT: http://www.nytime...ria.html

Now, certain mean characters try to profit from violence like this by emphasizing religious traits and neglecting the true social reasons for these crimes. Nothing new.
frajo
5 / 5 (4) Sep 13, 2010
Having lived there, read the Arab News everyday and been in contact with the Philippine Consulate, I have no doubt it is true.
Truth is more than just some carefully selected news. In fact, truth often is the contrary of some carefully selected news.
marjon
1.5 / 5 (4) Sep 13, 2010
Having lived there, read the Arab News everyday and been in contact with the Philippine Consulate, I have no doubt it is true.
Truth is more than just some carefully selected news. In fact, truth often is the contrary of some carefully selected news.

Take tour of Jeddah and pack a Bible. See what happens. And be sure to where jewelry with a cross.
otto1932
1 / 5 (15) Sep 13, 2010
Having lived there, read the Arab News everyday and been in contact with the Philippine Consulate, I have no doubt it is true.
Truth is more than just some carefully selected news. In fact, truth often is the contrary of some carefully selected news.

Take tour of Jeddah and pack a Bible. See what happens. And be sure to where jewelry with a cross.
Why dont you go there? Maybe you can change something.

Dont forget your burka.
Truth is more than just some carefully selected news. In fact, truth often is the contrary of some carefully selected news.
You think there might be a Purpose in that frajo? Do you think opinion can be unnaturally swayed by what the media choose to publish? And that this might be for the Common Good instead of what an individual publisher might prefer in terms of circulation or advertizing revenue?

There are not very many Rupert Murdocks or Ted Turners in the world. For a Reason.
rwinners
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 14, 2010
Holy schmoley. If someone owns a book, he/she can do anything they want with it, whether it be a bible, the koran or an encyclopedia.
The craziness happening across this planet about a bundle of paper illustrates the sad condition of human education.
Will we blow ourselves off the planet before we come to terms with our fears of the unknown? It's a toss up.
frajo
4 / 5 (4) Sep 14, 2010
If someone owns a book, he/she can do anything they want with it, whether it be a bible, the koran or an encyclopedia.
In his private rooms, yes. But in the public?
Like the nazis who burnt first the books of their victims and later their victims?
The craziness happening across this planet about a bundle of paper illustrates the sad condition of human education.
Your comment which carefully omits to reflect historic experience illustrates the sad condition of one human's education.
rwinners
3 / 5 (2) Sep 14, 2010
There is a difference, a large one, between a government burning all books that it does not "approve" of and an individual burning one book(or a dozen), in public or private.
Idolizing a book is just plain nuts. This is what is behind the current backlash in America against islam. The reactions of some of it's followers is irrational. And it is impossible to tell which of those adherents is the irrational one. Throw in the World Trade towers and you get backlash. That act alone, suicide in the name of some god, it completely crazy to most Americans, and I'd venture to say, most well educated people who have not been brainwashed by religious leaders from birth.

otto1932
1.8 / 5 (16) Sep 14, 2010
Idolizing a book is just plain nuts. This is what is behind the current backlash in America against islam. The reactions of some of it's followers is irrational.
Well it's very closely related to the idea that god would write a book to convey his thoughts to humanity.

I would think the belief itself would be insulting to any omniscient being who would rather write the universe and have people learn from it, than write a book that could only be properly understood in one language.

God, if he existed, would not write books! People write books. Politicians write books, for wholly political reasons. This alone can explain the existence of holy books and the effects they have on the people who believe in what they say.
rwinners
3 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2010
"Well it's very closely related to the idea that god would write a book to convey his thoughts to humanity. "

Actually Otto, it is more likely that Moses went up that mountain and compiled the best 'rules of the road' or "good rules to live by" that had been passed down to him by wise people he respected. He then cam down from that mountain and passed those rules off as "gods commandments".
Koran? Probably created the same way. All in the best interests of the 'people'. And look what happens.
Sigh.
bottomlesssoul
5 / 5 (2) Sep 19, 2010
@marjon
"The Saudi government burns and desecrates hundreds of bibles its security forces confiscate after raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately or at border crossings.
From the actions of a few civil servants you draw the conclusion all who share even partial overlap of faith do the same thing?

Practice critical thinking, and try not to judge people because they share some small thing in common with others you dislike.

Also, it's VERY BAD use of logic, applying the some rule to all.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) Sep 19, 2010
I think it is rather funny that Mr. Jones decided instead to hold a different book burning which will feature "The God Delusion" to get back at us mean immoral atheists.

The atheist response: "So what? Good job putting more money in Dawkin's pocket just to burn his books."
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Sep 19, 2010
From the actions of a few civil servants

The king is a 'civil servant'?
He is the keeper of the two holy mosques and follows religious laws.