Open Borders

Amid the refugee crisis, social media has been hailed as the power of the people. But who is really in control?

A single man, alone, against a column of Chinese tanks. The Stars ‘n’ Stripes half-raised above Iwo Jima. Phan Thj Kim Phuc running in fear ahead of American GIs in Vietnam. Sometimes a photo captures a single moment and becomes timeless.

Aylan Kurdi’s limp body, carried from the Greek beach where he was washed up, is the latest in the pantheon of photos that cut through the general fog of distance and apathy with an edge sharper than any statistic. The family’s story is now as familiar as it has remained upsetting. Fleeing Kobane in Syria, and making for Greece, Aylan drowned with his brother Galip and mother Rehan when their boat capsized in the open sea. Their tragedy has become the singular icon of the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. 

British newspapers almost didn’t print it. When they did, according to Getty, they broke a “social taboo that has been in place in the press for de

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