If you’ve been on Facebook since last Friday’s attacks in Paris, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled into the Front National’s image bank – the social media site is currently hosting a flood of French flags, applied via a function enabled by Facebook in the immediate aftermath of the attacks which is, frankly, deeply problematic.
So you want to show solidarity with France – specifically, with those killed in Paris this weekend. If you’re a British person who wants to do that because you feel sympathy and sadness for people who are brutally massacred, regardless of their nationality, then fine. I just hope that you also change your profile picture to a different country’s flag every time people are wrongly killed as the result of international conflicts – for example, during the attack on Beirut in Lebanon just the day before.
In the west, we’re all too often taught to buy into Euro-centrism and to readily accept corporate branding initiatives in the guise of human kindness. Facebook’s use of the flag, as well as the new use of its Safety Check feature in the wake of the Paris attacks – the first time it has been used for an act of conflict rather than a natural disaster – is an example of both of these.
Euro-centrism – a worldview which centres and places overemphasised importance on the West – reinforces its supremacy through actions like these. And there’s no ignoring the fact that this stems from European colonisation. How deeply ironic, considering that the colonisation of the Middle East and wars carried out in Muslim lands put down the roots for extremist groups such as Isis.