As details of the Paris attacks began to circulate, a news story from April about the al-Shabaab attack on Garissa University became the most read on the BBC’s website on Sunday (November 15).
In the massacre, 147 students were killed, a similar number to those who died in Paris on Friday night when Islamic militants loyal to Islamic State staged multiple attacks across the French capital.
Within two days, 10 million people had clicked on the story, which is about four times as many as read the story when it was originally posted.
People began Tweeting #PrayForKenya alongside #PrayforParis as posters mistakenly thought the Garissa attack took place the day before.
“When my people died, they did not send the world in mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”
– Lebanese Doctor Elie Faires
This is seen as further evidence of the disparity shown towards terrorist attacks in the West and those perpetrated elsewhere, especially in developing countries. Because many readers were seeing the story for the first time, they assumed it was more recent. About half the readers were from the United States while a quarter were from the United Kingdom.
Commentators have also asked why international media was not as attentive to a recent double suicide attack in Beirut which killed over 40 people, or an ambush in Baga, Nigeria in January that supposedly left up to 2,000 dead.
Following criticism of it not rolling out its ‘safety check’ function to these other attacks, Facebook have now said they will broaden its use.
However, not everyone failed to pay attention to the attack in Kenya 7 months ago. In April, Parisians held a vigil where they read out the names of those who died and held signs that said, “Je suis Kenyan. Et vous?” (I am Kenyan, And you?).