The Web is buzzing with discussion of how Twitter was used during the recent bomb attacks in Mumbai, India. While Twitterers anxiously Tweeted about the events as they unfolded, the authorities expressed concern about how Twitter could be used to help the terrorists.
Most mainstream news articles seemed impressed that Twitter and other social media could be used to report the events in real time.
- Globe and Mail Yes, Twitter is a news source
- Wall Street Journal Web atwitter with terror attacks
- Telegraph Mumbai attacks: Twitter and Flickr used to break news
- Reuters Blogs feed information frenzy on Mumbai attacks
- Computer World Mumbai terror tragedy: Web beats CNN?
But on a darker note, reminding me of an October 2008 US Army report (Terrorists May Twitter, Army Says), the Times of London reported that “citizen journalists” were being “told to stop using Twitter to update on Bombay attacks,” because of fears that the perpetrators were using the Tweets to gather intelligence about the response to their attacks.
Yet, PC World reports that Twitter and blogs were offering solace and assistance to relatives of the slain and wounded. (In Mumbai, Bloggers and Twitter Offer Help to Relatives) So evidently, there was some benefit to people being able to use Twitter during the atrocities.
So what’s the reality? Can Twitter be used for good or evil? The answer is, of course, both. Should Twitter use be banned or prevented during terrorist attacks to prevent misuse of the service?
As I have blogged previously in this column. Twitter is a tool. As such it is subject to human whim, used for good or bad, limited only by our imaginations. As such it reflects the collective conscious, or panconsciousness, and won’t be bound by our worries or concerns.
American Free Press Twitter, blogs provide riveting accounts of Mumbai attacks
Forbes Mumbai: Twitter’s Moment