How do you feel about French flag profile pictures?

‘It’s making people feel better without actually doing anything’

In the wake of the horrific events in France this weekend, social media has been blooming in red, blue, and white as people show their solidarity with France and those affected by this terrible event. A few hours after the attacks it became an option for people to put a temporary filter of France’s flag over their profile picture.

Not everyone is choosing to use it though. The Tab decided to ask some people on campus their thoughts on the matter.

Caitlin, second year, French

caitlin 2

I was just looking down my newsfeed and saw everyone was doing it. It seemed like no matter where they were from or what their likes or dislikes were, they were all coming together to support France in this horrible, horrible time. If anything like this happened in Scotland I think it’d be good to know others were thinking of us and not just ignoring the situation and brushing it under the carpet.

Victoria, second year, Psychology

I didn’t change my profile picture. What happened in Paris last week was terrible, as was what happened in Beirut the day before and what happened in Ankara last month. Facebook gave me the option of changing my profile picture to support France, but it didn’t for Lebanon or Turkey, and they were all terror attacks. It’s nice to see how many people have changed their picture to show respect for the victims, but I just feel that if I changed it I would be giving more importance to Paris than anywhere else, and this is not how I feel.

Ben, second year, Medicine

Ben Tometzki

I thought it was a nice gesture from Facebook for people to show togetherness and support for those affected by tragedy around the world. But profile pictures and statuses of peace do nothing if not backed up with genuine actions of peace. So what’s more important is to support those suffering, not argue about the way in which we show that support.

Francesc, second year, Sociology

I didn’t change my profile picture because on the whole I feel it’s insignificant. If you really want to help create change, actually be active and act upon it. Things like this are happening in the world all the time. This act is making people feel better without actually doing anything, changing your profile picture doesn’t even begin to address the issues we’re facing today.

Eric, second year, Economics and Politics

I didn’t change mine personally, but it’s got more to do with the fact I don’t really use Facebook. However, as a Parisian, I find it amazing how much support we got from all over the world. I mean, we are amazing (and you can quote me on that), but the whole world wore the red, blue and white after Friday, be it on Facebook or anywhere else. Changing a picture isn’t much, but it shows you care, and when that many people do it, the message it sends is pretty powerful.

Alex, second year, English Lit and History of Art

Alex Cooper

I changed my profile picture out of respect. The Paris attacks were a horrific tragedy but if I’m totally honest part of me felt slightly hypocritical because the event has really highlighted to me how media really only erupts when the attack is somewhere close to home.

So many atrocities are committed in countries further afield but I think this attack has made me realise how the scale and horror of these attacks are ignored by a lot of Western society, myself included. Hopefully there will be some sort of shake up in that mentality and more can be done now the reality of that has hit us.

Murray, third year, Chemistry


I didn’t change my profile picture to a photo of the French flag, it’s of the Lebanon flag where 45 Shia Muslims were killed by IS on Thursday with very minimal media coverage. The fact people are changing their photos to French flags and lapping up the media reports show they are being told who to grieve for by multi-billion pound businesses.

If Facebook and the papers really cared about people there would be multiple flag photos every day and the front pages would be covered with massacres in Syria, Iraq and Beirut. But they don’t, they just know white people dying makes better news than brown people dying.

Alex, second year, Medicine

Alex Knagg

What happened on Friday was a tragedy. However the sad truth of it all is these things are happening everyday and changing my Facebook every time would be pure effort so I’d rather not commit at all.

Eimear, second year, English Literature

Eimear McCaul.jpg 3

Yes, I did change my profile picture for a bit. I know a lot of people have criticised others for doing this, saying it’s Euro-centric and if we do it for France then we should do it any time there is a terrorist attack. While I realise this is probably correct, I was sad and sympathetic towards the people of Paris, which I think was the case for most the people who changed their profile pictures. It was a show of solidarity for France, but now it does seem a little insensitive to other victims of terrorism.