Aiding Paris: More Than a Facebook Filter

Christian Segers, Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Following the horrific Paris attacks on Nov. 13, there has been an outpouring of support for the city across various social media outlets -- particularly Facebook.

Shortly after news of the terror attacks flooded television screens and media outlets worldwide, many people turned to Facebook to respond. The social media site offered a filter of the French flag that could be placed over the user’s profile picture. Along with the filter was an implication: “Change your profile picture to support France and the people of Paris."

Although a seemingly harmless, yet considerate gesture, Facebook rapidly spread awareness of the plight in France’s capital city. Soon it became not only an option to update one’s profile picture, but more or less a societal obligation due to the high percentage of users who displayed the French banner on their respective pages.

However, Facebook executives have come under fire from numerous organizations and citizens alike, who feel that tragedies in “less civilized” countries often go neglected by the western world.

One commentator in particular, Lillian Okumu, said, "I am Kenyan and Facebook never once offered the Kenyan flag filter after the Westgate and Garissa attacks. I actually found the French flag filter offensive because it symbolizes selective empathy and dehumanization of others. Remember also that this war going on is to a large extent about Islam versus the West and poor countries are to a large extent just caught in between."

Could it be that the western way of life cares only for its allies and peers as some critics suggest? Have we turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to those who see their country ravaged by violence on an oftentimes weekly basis?

Yet for Paris or any other city that experiences such a senseless act of violence, what good does a Facebook filter do in the grand scheme of things? Perhaps the real question that people who genuinely care need to ask themselves, is what can they do individually, so that collectively, the global community can properly come to the aid of those who need it desperately.

One of the best ways (besides constant prayer) that the locals of France can help, is by taking refugees from the capital in to their homes and looking after them and their families until the nation is no longer on high alert.

For those who live abroad, there is a website set up by the French Red Cross where those who wish to help can send monetary donations in order that France may continue to expand their ground relief efforts.

If you want more than to simply be a part of a trending movement on Facebook, visit the link to the donation webpage. Together we can create a difference for Paris and for the world.