The U.S. intelligence community is concerned that terrorists might use micro-blogging tool Twitter to coordinate attacks, according to a purported draft Army intelligence report posted on the Web.
The report—present by the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion and posted to the Federation of American Scientists web site—examines the possible ways terrorists could use mobile and Web technologies such as the Global Positioning System, digital maps, and Twitter mashups to plan and execute terrorist attacks.
The report (PDF), which appears to have been first presented earlier this month, was reported Friday by Wired magazine’s Noah Shachtman. A chapter titled “Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter,” presents general, introductory information on Twitter and how it works, and describes how the service was used to report details of a recent earthquake in Los Angeles and by activists at the Republican National Convention.
“Twitter has also become a social activism tool for socialists, human rights groups, communists, vegetarians, anarchists, religious communities, atheists, political enthusiasts, hacktivists and others to communicate with each other and to send messages to broader audiences,” the report said.
The report goes on to say:
Twitter is already used by some members to post and/or support extremist ideologies and perspectives. Extremist and terrorist use of Twitter could evolve over time to reflect tactics that are already evolving in use by hacktivists and activists for surveillance. This could theoretically be combined with targeting.
I suppose it’s a legitimate concern to some extent; I’m not naive enough to think that our nation is perfectly safe and that there aren’t people out there who are trying to do us harm.
On the other hand, I’m also a believer in Benjamin Franklin’s old quote: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
And when tools and technology that I use every day are now considered to weapons that a terrorist can use, along the lines of, oh … say … box-cutters, like those the 9/11 hijackers used, one has to wonder what’s next.
The most powerful weapon that people can use (whether for “terrorist” or “patriotic” causes) is the power of our minds and our thoughts and our words.
You can follow my mindless terrorist tweets here.