Friday, November 4

Twitter, algorithms and protecting your nation's honor (updated)

I know, its a strange combination but a recent tweet (in fact several) prompted me to write this post. I don't know about you but I use Twitter to stay up-to-date with news, friends, events and social media newbies. I too share interesting articles, links to websites, scholarship opportunities, and more. 

A "mention" I received on my Twitter feed however the other day, made me realize, that even a feed can be misinterpreted. It turns out I tweet to much on the Arab world. Even if I do, so what? My Twitter account, my feed, right? Well, so I thought. 

I actually looked up the actual definition of "algorithm" and according to Merriam Webster dictionary, algorithm is:

Which part of the definition my Twitter feed fits, I am not sure. Perhaps its the "step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end especially by a computer"? In this case, I must thank this user's comment, because its actually pretty cool- it turns out my Twitter feed can accomplish a complicated procedure (which I am not sure what is) through my very own computer?! Amazing isn't ?! Ah, the technology of these days...

But wait, it turns out, that instead of focusing so much on other things, I should be ready to protect Azerbaijan's honor. Here is why. That very same Twitter user (lets just call him Mr. X) says that instead of writing about the Arabs, I should write about Solovyov (referring to an article [RU] in Russian media) and his thoughts on war, and post- conflict relations between the communities. Mind you, I read the article, and there is nothing critical in it, in fact, that article is worth mentioning on Twitter as well. You see, the article (its more of a long excerpt from a radio program) is about a recent incident that took place in Russia, when Azerbaijani Airlines, refused to take on the passenger who had an Armenian last name but who was Russian citizen. Further down Solovyov (the guy who runs the radio program) says "the road of hatred is a dead end". And he is absolutely right. 

Working in conflict resolution, I come across people like Mr. X and others like him, who are triggered by anything that doesn't praise Azerbaijan and its people. What Solovyov was saying is one of the basic steps to reconciliation in post- conflict societies (or so i thought, see the update section below). No one is talking about forgetting, neglecting history. History is history, and tragedies did happen. To call people traitors when they refuse to call names, and fight, engaging in aggressive dialogues, is simply won't lead to resolution of anything. 

Oh, and I have to mention you his last two tweets "I suggest Arzu and her friends should form a committee to protect the rights of Solovyov" and "everything is clear with Arzu, while @Fuserlimon (Mr. X was mentioning me and another friend of mine during all his other tweets) chose to remain silent". What a doll?! Beautifully said... I am glad he cleared things with me. Makes me feel much better.

I still think there is no room for hatred as we need to build dialogue between the two countries.

This in an update for the section in the post about Solovyov which still in no way approves of Mr. X's attitude and comments made on Twitter that day. 

I listened to the following radio program by Solovyov and I have to say that I take my words back regarding his attitude towards Azerbaijanis and Armenians. In his radio program (listen below), he makes nationalistic comments that are in fact disturbing. 

He draws general conclusion out of the incident (Azerbaijan Airlines not permitting Russian citizen with Armenian last name on board of Moscow- Baku flight) saying things like "if they [Azerbaijanis] don't respect a Russian citizen, they don't respect Russian Federation" and its a disgrace for our government not to react to this "spit in our faces". He mocks Azerbaijan in Caucasian accent of its prejudices and asks whether Azerbaijan allows to show movies with Cher and tennis games with Agassi and others of Armenian dissent. 

Solovyov, suggests a solution to the problem- introduction of visa regime between Azerbaijan and Russia. That way, says Solovyov, Azerbaijanis will have a legal right to say no to people they don't want to allow into their countries and similarly Russia would have the same right. In fact, it could generate an additional income for the state budget given the large numbers of Azerbaijanis traveling to Russia all the time. "Perhaps this would make them [Azerbaijanis] very happy" he adds at the end of his comment. I am not going to go into more details of what he says in this program but for those who speak Russian, they can listen to it here and draw own conclusions. 

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