Middle East

Libyan social media jubilation

Libya women wave their new flag during celebrations in the streets of Tripoli following news of Moamer Kahdafi"s capture and death
Image caption Social media users supporting Colonel Gaddafi were less vocal than those celebrating his death

Libyan social media users were jubilant at the death of Muammar Gaddafi, the ousted Libyan leader. Supporters of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) posted in their hundreds on Facebook and Twitter as the news of the former leader's death emerged.

After a muted initial response, by the morning of 21 October, social media platforms supportive of the deceased leader were prepared to admit that Gaddafi had been killed and some even declared his son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, as his successor.

Twitter

Libya's Twitterati were quick off the mark, with hundreds of tweets relaying the reports and expressing their joy at Gaddafi's death. Many users on 20 October posted "God is great" in Arabic although others called for a moment of reflection, like @Gheblawi who wrote in English: "As we celebrate the dawn of a new #Libya we should remember our martyrs and wounded heroes, never forget their sacrifices and memory."

Most, however, were overjoyed by the news and seemed in high spirits, such as @Gaddfestrophe, who declared in English that Libya is now "100% DEGAFFINATED".

A number of other Libyan users suggested that the death of Gaddafi might have implications for uprisings in other Arab countries. User @FreeBenghazi, for example, tweeted in English; "Ben Ali exiled; Mubarak imprisoned; Gaddafi dead. Following the trajectory, Ali Abdullah Saleh will end up in tiny lil pieces".

Facebook

Libyan Facebook users were also out in force, leaving hundreds of comments on pro-NTC pages.

Al-Manarah Press, a Facebook page providing news from inside the country, posted a picture of Gaddafi's corpse and within two hours the item had attracted 384 comments. Most of these were users posting "God is Great" or "Thank God" in Arabic but many more also expressed their great hatred of their former leader even in death, such as the user who commented in Arabic, "May God not have mercy on you, and may God not let you into paradise."

Some users on other Facebook groups seemed to have difficulty believing the news, in spite of the photographs. The Libyan Uprising 2011, another pro-NTC news page based in Libya posted the story, and almost 350 users commented. Again, most posted "God is great" in Arabic, but a number expressed confusion.

One user warned in Arabic: "Brothers, this is a rumour, Gaddafi is not dead, he is not dead." Another asked: "Guys, is what this photo claims true?" However, reactions were overwhelmingly positive, and most users had no difficulty believing the veracity of the pictures of Gaddafi's body.

As the Western press questioned the circumstances of Gaddafi's death on 21 October, few Libyan social media users expressed regret at what had taken place.

Reaction from supporters

Libyan social media users supporting Colonel Gaddafi were far less vocal than those celebrating his death, although pro-Gaddafi Facebook pages posted a response.

The page for Allibiya TV, formerly a pro-Gaddafi television channel, claimed that the deceased leader was "alive and well" and that photographs showing his corpse were fabricated. However, the page later updated to say that reports of Gaddafi's death "could not be verified". Almost 1,700 comments were left on the item, most written by NTC supporters deriding claims that the deposed leader might still be alive.

Other pages also questioned the veracity of reports of Gaddafi's death, like The English-language page Millions Supporting Gaddafi, which posted: "Do you still watch news channels? I mean how many times you figured out that they are false news?"

However, on 21 October some of Gaddafi's supporters were prepared to admit that he had been killed. The Arabic-language page "The army of the guide and leader Muammar Gaddafi on Facebook" announced Gaddafi's death when it named his son Saif al Islam Gaddafi as his successor. The page posted that his supporters were "swearing fealty and obedience to Saif al Islam - God is great".

Even on 21 October, however, few pro-Gaddafi pages in Libya seemed prepared to announce their former leader's death in a more direct manner.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

More on this story