This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture


Soldiers and terrorists atwitter

This Magazine Staff

The global War on Terror has a new front: Twitter! The American military has now taken up the idea of tracking the Twitter accounts of terrorists in the hopes they can intercept their moves and whereabouts. Of course, this tactic could just as easily backfire, proving to be counter-productive and a great waste of time. For one, Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists hepfully points out that if the American military has the time and resources to track Twitter accounts, they probably aren’t facing too much danger. Check out the three potential consequences of this move, with special attention to the last one (Scenario 3):
“Scenario 1: Terrorist operative “A” uses Twitter with… a cell phone camera/video function to send back messages, and to receive messages, from the rest of his [group]… Other members of his [group] receive near real time updates (similar to the movement updates that were sent by activists at the RNC) on how, where, and the number of troops that are moving in order to conduct an ambush.
Scenario 2: Terrorist operative “A” has a mobile phone for Tweet messaging and for taking images. Operative “A” also has a separate mobile phone that is actually an explosive device and/or a suicide vest for remote detonation. Terrorist operative “B” has the detonator and a mobile to view “A’s” Tweets and images. This may allow “B” to select the precise moment of remote detonation based on near real time movement and imagery that is being sent by “A.”
Scenario 3: Cyber Terrorist operative “A” finds U.S. [soldier] Smith’s Twitter account. Operative “A” joins Smith’s Tweets and begins to elicit information from Smith. This information is then used for… identity theft, hacking, and/or physical [attacks]. This scenario… has already been discussed for other social networking sites, such as My Space and/or Face Book.”

Show Comments