Army voices Twitter fears

If you think people who send dozens of Twitter tweets a day have too much time on their hands – or not enough of a life – consider the geniuses at the Army's 304th Military Intelligence Battalion. They spent who knows how long preparing a report, posted to the Federation of American Scientists site (PDF), detailing the scenarios in which terrorists could exploit micro-messaging.

If you think people who send dozens of Twitter tweets a day have too much time on their hands – or not enough of a life – consider the geniuses at the Army's 304th Military Intelligence Battalion. They spent who knows how long preparing a report, posted to the Federation of American Scientists site (PDF), detailing the scenarios in which terrorists could exploit micro-messaging.

Wired's Noah Shachtman first blogged that the report details three Twitter scenarios:

  • Terrorists use phones with Twitter to relay real-time updates of troop movements in order to coordinate an ambush.
  • Terrorists use cell pics and tweets to coordinate the timing to explode a device.
  • Terrorists follow a soldier's tweets and use Twitter to obtain logistical information.

I suppose it's good that the Army is aware of Twitter and is conceptualizing such scenarios, so it can guard against them. But, as Steven Aftergood of FAS says:

"If we have time to worry about 'Twitter threats' then we're in good shape. I mean, it's important to keep some sense of proportion."

Unfortunately, I think the command-and-control response would be to shut down Army personnel's use of tools like Twitter, especially given the third scenario above. That has been the military's reaction to blogs and even Web browsing in the past. (See Air Force: No! Stop! Blogs bad!)

Twitter is just communication. If it didn't exist, terrorists would use plain SMS. Or whatever. In a perfectly secure world, there would be no communication.

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