Ever since the early days of social media – think back to MySpace in the early 2000s – it’s been revered as a fantastic tool for connecting people together; for allowing people from all over the world to engage and interact with another.
In many ways breaking down all social boundaries and allowing people to simply talk to each other in a way they feel comfortable, although we aren’t blind to the fact social media doesn’t always receive completely positive press, we fully appreciate it is actually doing a lot of good in the world.
And there’s no better place this can be seen than in the recent Snapchat coverage of Makkah.
A global event
Originally a social platform that allowed users to share with others photos and videos that were deleted after a specified number of seconds, Snapchat has developed in recent times and added a lot of different functionality, including Snapchat stories.
In essence, a ‘Snapstory’ is individual photos or videos that have been brought together into one longer video, all around a certain topic.
And on Monday 13th July, the Night of Destiny (Laylatul Qadr), a SnapStory was produced from those moments captured by the vast numbers at the sacred location of Makkah, after many Twitter users had tweeted @Snapchat asking for the coverage to be included.
With there 1.5 billion people around the world carrying out midnight prayers on the night, it was clear there was a global audience – very likely the reason Snapchat soon actioned the people’s requests and created the SnapStory – but what was most fantastic about this is how much positive praise there was being shared on social media.
Awareness through social media
In the world we live in today, everyone knows there’s a lot of trouble often seen as being around religion. Whether it’s small scale or global, the focus of all religions, not just Islam, has been tainted by the actions or words of a tiny minority.
But with approaches taken by the likes of Snapchat here, it begins to dispel a lot of the negativity against religions. That’s a bold statement, but one that’s genuinely true.
There were a huge number of tweets commending Snapchat on the coverage, and many explaining that it had opened their eyes to a part of the Islam religion they had never seen before. Hundreds of thousands of worshippers – millions, even – coming together to all pray and celebrate. Although there would be no replacement for attending in person, the SnapStory did a lot to portray the power and emotion of Makkah on the Night of Destiny.
What’s more, whether you’re a Muslim or not – or even whether you’re a believer of any religion or not – the coverage of Makkah was fascinating. Showing vast numbers of people celebrating one individual cause, the power of social media ensured people all around the world were able to watch and engage.
This year, Makkah was something that wasn’t observed simply by those there, but by people right around the globe, as Snapchat showed the event taking place, but the likes of Twitter and the hashtag “#Mecca_Live” ensured that engagement wasn’t just on an individual basis. It was something that people could interact with quickly and easily.
For many, Snapchat has been a platform that was seen as being almost purely personal; only beneficial on a one-to-one basis. Through their recent coverage of Makkah, however, it’s difficult not to see Snapchat in a different light – this time, a network that connects people right around the world in a visual way, allowing them to interact and engage with topics they may otherwise have never been able to see.