Social media have become primary venues for pubic conversations, but we know very little about how and where holy places are discussed in social media and who participates in these conversations. To address these questions, we look at the Temple Mount, one of the most significant places to the three ancient monotheistic religions, which is of great importance in political, national, and other contexts. The research question is twofold: In what contexts are discussions taking place in the Hebrew Facebook-sphere around the Temple Mount? And, what are the leading social media venues where the Temple Mount is discussed? Data collection took place in 2017, when Israel celebrated 50 years since capturing the mount, and experienced a major security event—the “metal detector crisis,” followed by major clashes between Jews and Palestinians. We found that the Temple Mount is portrayed prominently in three contexts: national, religious, and security and that “ordinary” social media interest in it is limited to groups of mostly nationalist and religious Jews who demand prayer rights on the mount and rarely cross to become an issue for the broader Israeli social media public until a major security development initiates an “extraordinary” discourse involving many more individuals and groups. In one sense, the discourse about the Temple Mount is reminiscent of a “dormant volcano” that does not erupt regularly, but when it does, no one knows how the eruption will end. Lessons for the representation of holy places in social media are discussed.
- holy places
- media and religion
- new media
- social media
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cultural Studies
- Computer Science Applications