The Twitter Threat: Tweeting Terrorists?

U.S. Army Intelligence is concerned that terrorists might use the micro-blogging platform Twitter to coordinate attacks, according to a draft report compiled by the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion. Oh no -- batten the hatches!

U.S. Army Intelligence is concerned that terrorists might use the micro-blogging platform Twitter to coordinate attacks, according to a draft report (pdf) compiled by the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion. As Noah Schactman first blogged at Wired, the military has long been concerned that Al Qaeda and its ilk could "take advantage of commercial hardware and software to help plan and carry out strikes." Wouldn't it be ironic--in the Alanis Morissette sense of the word--if just as these, um, twerrorists were tweeting, the network went down, perhaps during a Steve Jobs keynote?

The report offers three scenarios:

1.) A twerrorist tweets his homies with real-time information, say, troop movements.

2.) The twerrorist picks the perfect moment for a bomb blast, which his collaborator detonates with the use of a cell phone.

3.) A twerrorist follows military personnel on Twitter, "and begins to elicit information," that could be "used for a targeting package," such as "identity theft, hacking and/or physical."

Now this Dr. Strangelovian report identifies only a few common technologies and products our enemies could deploy to plot our destruction. Why, there are also GPS devices, email, text messaging, cell phones, Skype, the World Wide Web, Microsoft and Apple operating systems, Google Search, Maps and Earth, Microsoft Word, Babelfish (to translate the infidel's language), newspaper classifieds, Craigslist, the U.S. postal system, Fedex, UPS, DHL, guns, nails, propane tanks, fertilizer, ammonia, planes, trains, automobiles, taxis, and while we're at it oxygen: terrorists have to breathe, too, don't they? I just hope Homeland Security doesn't get involved. Can you imagine if the agency applied airport security methods to, say, text messaging? You'd have to stand in line for an hour to have your 17-word digital haiku checked, scanned, and stripped searched before it could be sent on its merry way.

The report does contain some laugh-out moments. My favorite: "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."

Good thing American intelligence is keeping tabs on those godless vegan human rights hacktivists. It's no telling how much damage they could do the social fabric of our country. Let's hope they don't try to add fluoride to our drinking water.

Add New Comment

2 Comments

  • Brendan Collins

    A potential alternate title for this piece: "Osama Bin Login: Terrorism and Web 2.0 Security."

    Anyone? Bueller?

  • Wes Edwards

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't

    Now, I have not read the aforementioned report. However, I would like to at least play the "devil's advocate." In the aftermath of 9/11, there were virtual howls of protest and "armchair quarterbacking" about the US intelligence apparatus, and their apparent inability to forecast and stop such horrendous acts as the attack on the United Stated of that dreadful day. It is the job of intelligence analysts to predict how terrorists may do their jobs, and utilize assets to interdict those plans (albeit, within the restraints imposed of the US constitution). The long and short of it, in my view, is that I would be alarmed if analysts had NOT thought of this method of communication as a potential terrorist tool. It is what gets done with that information that is of import.