Celebrities and commentators have led calls on Twitter for the video depicting the beheading of US journalist James Foley not to be shared online to avoid handing the Islamic State a platform for its propaganda.
Channel 4 newsreader Krishnan Guru-Murthy, former Tory MP Louise Mensch and Mirror journalist Kevin Maguire are among those urging social network users not to forward the footage on to their contacts.
Guru-Murthy said: “The intended effect of beheading James Foley on video is to spread fear of IS [the Islamic State]. Don't help by watching or sharing it.”
The intended effect of beheading James Foley on video is to spread fear of IS. Don't help by watching or sharing it #JamesFoley
— Krishnan Guru-Murthy (@krishgm) August 19, 2014
Meanwhile, Mensch urged her followers to share a picture of Foley alive rather than “any of him in the hands of his gutless murderers.”
“Never watched a beheading video and never will. If there is a hell, I hope the executioners rot in it,” tweeted Maguire.
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) August 19, 2014
Thousands of ordinary users from around the world backed the plan to deny the IS publicity using the hashtag #ISISmediablackout.
Instead of the graphic video, many like Mensch were sharing pictures of Foley smiling at work, encouraging people to disseminate them in his memory instead.
Never watched a beheading video and never will. If there is a hell, I hope the executioners rot in it http://t.co/Bgd3yFpWi4
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) August 19, 2014
Their comments come as Twitter told users it would suspend the accounts of anyone tweeting graphic images or footage of the beheading.
Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command, SO15, has launched an investigation into the video to determine the identity of the English-speaking militant. In a statement, the specialist operations unit warned the public not to share the video as doing so may breach anti-terror laws.
“We would like to remind the public that viewing, downloading or disseminating extremist material within the UK may constitute an offence under Terrorism legislation,” the statement reads.
UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Islamic State militants who released the video ‘represent a direct threat’ to UK security. David Cameron, who has cut short his holiday to respond to the incident, said on Twitter: “If true, the murder of James Foley is shocking and depraved. I will today chair meetings on the situation in Iraq/Syria.”
American photojournalist James Wright Foley went missing almost two years ago while covering the conflict in Syria as a freelance photographer. The militants proclaimed the violent act as “a message to America” for its decision to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in Iraq.
In the grisly film, Foley appears kneeling beside a masked man who speaks with a British accent. Foley read a letter which blames the US government for “hammering the final nail into his coffin” before his beheading with a short blade.