The Tweet Text of Terror

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A report by the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, summarized in a presentation (PDF) available from the Federation of American Scientists identifies ways terrorists might exploit commercially available hardware and software to coordinate and carry out their strikes. The report focuses on some obvious ideas: use of satellite GPS positioning and mapping systems along with the use of voice-modification software to obscure identities on calls that might be monitored by military or intelligence organizations.

And that isn’t really news: for years, intelligence analysts have been pointing the use of everything from laser pointer to radio-controlled toys to online games as potential vectors for terrorist actions or communications. But what’s more interesting about this report is that it also ponders how terrorists might pair these technologies with micro-blogging services like Twitter to make them even more effective.

The report notes that activists and protesters at the recent Republican National Convention used Twitter to coordinate their actions and movements, using what the Army describes as "counter-surveillance" and "command and control" techniques. "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 reads.

Users of micro-blogging services like Twitter would point out that their lack of reliability often makes them unsuitable even for coordinating the sale of used computer hardware, let alone social activism or possible terror actions. Nonetheless, as the services stabilize and evolve, they could indeed become significant communications tools for any particular group, just as email, mobile phones, and text messages have been utilized by a diverse range of organizations—even, we believe, military and intelligence organizations.

[Meanwhile, feel free to follow Digital Trends’ activity on Twitter!]

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