Tweeting With The Enemy
With the DDoS attack Twitter fresh on our minds, one has to wonder who is utilizing social media for anti-social reasons. Could our enemies be covertly watching our every move in the Twitterverse, awaiting to seize an opportunity to use the free-flowing firehose of information for ulterior motives and surprise us again with another denial-of-service ambush?
Though Twitter originated as a dispatch service for sending short concise updates to our followers, it soon evolved into a source of breaking news for global issues. In that regard it differs from its peer group brethern that includes MySpace, Facebook and YouTube who all at the moment lack the functionality of real-time search.
Consequently, a DDoS attack that occured on Twitter this past week is just one example of how one political entity (hackers in Russia) can thwart another (a blogger in Georgia) while capsizing the microblogging platform of Twitter in its wake. Is this just the tip of the iceberg? Could our tweeting with the enemy be an issue of concern for all who tweet? Is Cyxymu (the online Twitter handle for the blogger) the first in a series of future digital refugees who will start to surface in political hot spots around the world?
Back in June, US congressman Pete Hoekstra caused a critical security stir when he tweeted that he had just landed in Iraq. Unfortunately, his trip to Iraq with five other politicians was supposed to be secret. Couldn't insurgents with access to Twitter have used this information to activate some form of counter surveillance activity? After all, aren't we still at war in Iraq?
In a free market society, Twitter has been an acceptable means for businesses to secure real-time intelligence about one's competitors. Shouldn't the same be true for political factions? Is there a fine line here between exposing one's competitive advantage and tipping one's hand regarding geo-political activity. Isn't this similar to the policy taken by the NFL to ban the use of Twitter on game days, to insure that game strategy does not leak to the opposing team.
The US military is also taking steps to ban social networks. In an unprecedented move, the USMC banned the use of social networking sites on all Marine Corps' owned PCs and computer networks. According to the Corps, blocking the use of Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter will help eliminate the possibility of security breaches the Marines must deal with regarding unclassified computers.
The Pentagon hasn't banned social networking on work computers yet, but it's possible similar rules will be put into place before 2010. Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn's mandatory investigation into the pros and cons of social networking -- expected to be finished before the end of August -- will look into the ways the DoD can utilize social networking, while hopefully avoiding its pitfalls.
On the flip side, if we were to control what is and is not allowed on Twitter would the world have had a front row seat to the Iranian Election protests? Didn't the Twitter Revolution provide the Iranians with a voice and an echo chamber to amplify their message to the world?
All these questions are important issues to weigh as Twitter continues to evolve and intersect with real-time global issues. Whether it is a slippery slope or an necessary evil, we need to tread lightly when communicating with our fellow man, as well we need to be cognizant of thwarting undue censorship.
The term “sleeping with the enemy” is often used to describe a situation involving a non-adversarial relationship between two individuals or entities that would normally be unfriendly or adversarial. Often this type of cooperation is met with suspicion from supporters of either group, as each thinks the opposition is planning to deceive or betray the other.
Sometimes, onlookers worry that the parties may try to assert undue influence on each other’s ideas and political convictions. In the Twitterverse, tweeting with the enemy has far more serious ramifications because you are now sleeping with an enemy in the dark. In many instances you are entrusting your tweets to complete strangers. When you compare this to the real world, would you do the same with a stranger you met on a subway or walking down the streets of New York? Food for thought the next time you have a tweet to share with the world! Think first, tweet later!