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Originally published December 5 2012

New social media app maps out sites of drone strikes

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) Now, it may be possible to keep track of the global war on terror in real time using a new app that lets you keep track of the latest U.S. drone strikes, though its developers warn it is not an app for the faint of heart.

The app, called "Dronestagram," is part of a new project that utilizes the popular photo-sharing app Instagram "to shed light on one of the more shadowy aspects of modern warfare," says Time magazine.

The report says the images that come through the Dronestagram app aren't pretty or something you would "share" online with friends. But, says founder James Bridle, that's not really the point anyway.

"It's a way of visualizing what some people want to hide, but by changing the medium, I'm putting it where people are already spending time," he told the magazine. "It radically increases access and visibility."

Drones are emblematic of technology

To "power" the app, Bridle says he employs research from local news reports, government websites and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism to identify locations of drone strikes on Google Satellite maps.

Here's how it works: Bridle crops an image of the site, when he then uploads to the Dronestagram Instagram account, along with details about the attack, which often include "the names and ages of those who died or were injured in the attack," said Time. He then pushes the image out to the project's Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr account, which is followed by several thousand people, though the list is growing.

An author and digital strategist, Bridle tells the magazine he started the site because he realized he could utilize available digital networks to connect people with information that's already in the public domain that is just waiting to be used.

On his own website, he lists a number of the previously unseen villages and cities where drones have been used against human and other targets.

"I see drones as being emblematic uses of technology where people want to hide things and actually increase the distance between different parts of the world," he said.

The dramatic rise of social media - a phenomenon that isn't even close to reaching its zenith - is becoming a key part of how we wage war in the age of cyber "combat" and is epitomized in the current Israel-Hamas conflict, where both sides are turning their battle over Gaza into one for public opinion.

The Israel Defense Force, for example, has used a Twitter account, @IDFspokesperson, so officials can live-blog military ops in real time. Hamas' Al Qassam brigade also set up an account.

A much more dramatic - and necessary - use of social media?

Since launching the project in October, Bridle says his site has received several mentions in the mainstream media, including The Atlantic, Britain's The Guardian newspaper, and Buzzfeed. He says the popularity of the project is a testament to how we use social media to get more information.

"Photo sharing is another extraordinary technology we've been subliminally used to," Bridle said. "It's usually narrow and limited to certain interests, but reality is a lot more complicated than that."

While it may be a bit jarring to see a satellite image of a drone strike in between pictures of things and events much more domestic, Bridle says it's a necessary contrast that is exceptionally poignant these days.

"We tend to use these networks for banal things, but reality is more complex than that," he said.


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