www.thejournalofcounterterrorism.org




                              Twitter.com
                              and Coord...
Introduction
There are myriads of threats that jeopardize peace and stability. Among these threats, the proliferation of e...
www.thejournalofcounterterrorism.org

     nation and subjugation:                                                        ...
www.thejournalofcounterterrorism.org

     bags for goggles and gas masks-- hide                                          ...
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Iacsp Magazine V15 N2 Twitter

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Iacsp Magazine V15 N2 Twitter

  1. 1. www.thejournalofcounterterrorism.org Twitter.com and Coordinated Mayhem: An Examination of the Incorporation of Twitter by the RNC Welcoming Committee By Lance Lamoreaux Riot police face off with demonstrators as the police block a bridge into downtown St. Paul to keep protesters from getting close to the site at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota September 4, 2008. REUTERS/ Damir Sagolj (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA) 12 Vol.15, No.2 Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International
  2. 2. Introduction There are myriads of threats that jeopardize peace and stability. Among these threats, the proliferation of extremism is a peril to civilized society. These extremist include, but are not limited to the following: religious, anarchists, anti-government, and anti-globalization. They operate both in the United States and abroad. Advances in technology and media have enabled extremists to broadcast their propaganda to an untold audience. These provocative messages have enticed a vulnerable following into discontent and action. Consider the riots that occurred during World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle, the Rwandan Genocide, and the recent rioting in Greece. Instability is increasing with the compounding of the economic crisis. The reality is that there are countless people being incited to violence and extremism through media manipulation. The fact that these extremists are coordinating themselves through technology is especially frightening. There is one media source that combines both dissemination and coordination - Twitter.com. T his paper sets out to inform Twitter has received recent media security managers of the attention due to its ability to broad- practical and potential use cast timely news. Within minutes of a contemporary media of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, resource – Twitter. The paper is divided Twitter has received recent media witnesses began sending updates via up into three parts. First, the paper Twitter regarding what was unfold- explains the interworking of Twitter; attention due to its ability to broadcast ing. At the beginning of the attacks, including its capabilities and shortcom- timely news. Within minutes of the it was estimated that messages were ings. Second, is an account of an anar- being posted at a rate of 70 every chist group, the Republican National Mumbai terrorist attacks, witnesses five seconds. With six million us- Convention Welcoming Committee, began sending updates via Twitter ers around the world, Twitter has applying the Twitter application in co- become an everyday component in ordinating the mayhem that occurred in regarding what was unfolding. At people’s lives(8). St. Paul during the Republican National the beginning of the attacks, it was Convention (RNC). Lastly, a conclu- The Republican National sion that calls for resourcefulness in estimated that messages were Convention Welcoming security management. being posted at a rate of 70 every Committee What is Twitter? five seconds. A Twitter Case Study Twitter is a social networking site(1) The Republican National Con- that allows people to share personal vention Welcoming Committee updates. These updates can be view (RNCWC) is an anarchist / anti- publicly or they can be controlled by a pri- authoritarian group that organized them- vate setting that only allows authorized indi- selves with the purpose of disrupting the viduals to view updates. Updates are limited Republican National Convention(9). The to 140 characters. Individuals may make group initiated the recruitment of anar- updates from their cell-phones via text mes- chists from St Paul, Minnesota and from sage, on-line, and other third party sources other anarchist groups across the United such as “Twitter fan wiki.” Individuals can There are also a number of third party twit- States, and created: “an informational and also “follow” other people or organizations ter applications that pull Twitter updates and logistical framework for radical resistance on Twitter. To follow someone simply means disseminate the information in applicable to the RNC”(10). According to the group’s to receive that person’s updates(2). People and ways. For example, Addict-o-matic(5) is a website, those wishing to work with the organizations can update their status through a website that retrieves information from a RNC Welcoming Committee must agree computer terminal or by sending a text message variety of websites into a searchable appli- to the following: from their cell-phone. cation. In other words, if someone enters the word “police” into the search bar, the page • A rejection of Capitalism, Imperialism, Twitter is free to the public and the website is will fill with top news headlines, Google and the State; currently only available in two languages – Videos, Blogs, and Twitter updates. There • Resist the commodification of our English and Japanese. That is not to say that is also “TweetBeep” which is a service shared and living Earth; individuals and organizations cannot make that sends e-mails when a Twitter update • Organize on the principles of decen- updates in other languages(3). To use the pro- matches one’s search. An application called tralization, autonomy, sustainability, gram all that is required is either a cell phone “Twitt(url)y”(6) tracks the most popular and mutual aid; or internet connection(4). URLs shared on Twitter(7). • Work to end all relationships of domi-
  3. 3. www.thejournalofcounterterrorism.org nation and subjugation: nication with each other in real time. The • Oppose the police and prison- information was received as text mes- industrial complex, and main- sages to cell phones. Additionally, the tain solidarity with all targets RNCWC had dispatchers at computer The dispatchers sent updates of state repression: terminals that monitored the updates • Directly confront systems of and information that pertained coming in from the anarchists on the oppression, and respect the streets. The dispatchers sent updates to the other sectors. These need for a diversity of tac- and information that pertained to tics(11). profiles included: the seven the other sectors. These profiles included: the seven sectors, “bikes,” sectors, “bikes,” “bridge,” Local authorities blame much of “bridge,” and “I 49” profiles. Further- uncivil protest that occurred during and “I 49” profiles. With the more, participants on the street sent the Convention – the “smashing text messages that were received by information coming in from the windows, slashing tires, throwing other members of that sector. With bags of urine and excrement and other sectors, the dispatchers the information coming in from the physically confronting Republican other sectors, the dispatchers and and street level participants delegates in the streets” – on the street level participants were able to RNCWC. Further mayhem caused were able to coordinate attacks, coordinate attacks, avoid arrests, and by demonstrators includes imped- exploit security weaknesses. Here are avoid arrests, and exploit ing members of the Connecticut a few examples of real time commu- delegation from arriving at con- security weaknesses. nication exchanged in sector 1: vention, spitting on delegates, and squirting bleach on delegates(12). • Cops deploying on bridges off 94 to seal off protesters 1:01 PM Sep 1st The RNCWC effectively disrupted the from web. RNC through careful organization. The • Mobile cops enroute to push sector 1 RNC Welcoming Committee website has a protesters north east 12:43 PM Sep 1st link to a PowerPoint Presentation that me- from web. ticulously outlines the group’s objectives, • Fight with officers at 9th and Wacouta. shares intelligence including maps, police 1 officer down. 10:41 AM Sep 1st from statistics, government policies, Delegate web(17). hotels, and expresses communication pro- cedures. On the slide labeled “Communica- There was one principal dispatcher that tions” is the following text: coordinated the action of the other sec- tors. The Twitter profile was RNC08. The • Will utilize .txtmob, so bring your cell Twitter profile RNC08 had 537 people phones following its updates. The profile even • Will offer scout trainings in the weeks had a link to the RNCWC’s website. The leading up to the RNC link is irrefutable proof that the RNCWC • Tin Can Comms Collective is develop- used Twitter to coordinate their actions ing a comms system in St. Paul. The RNCWC’s website never • It appears that rather than using .txt- makes any direct references to Twitter. mob(13), the RNCWC used Twitter Most likely the RNCWC’s organizers did as their communication system. One not want law enforcement to be aware of of the PowerPoint slides has a map their method of communication. Their that labels seven different sectors(14). website did state that anarchist organiza- On Twitter.com, there are seven cor- tions wishing to participate should contact responding sectors(15). them through email. This is most likely when anarchists were informed of using The RNCWC organized by dividing St. Twitter to communicate. Paul into sectors. Each sector had its own Twitter profile. Participants were then as- Here are a few more examples of communi- signed a sector. Next, the participants set A protester holds a sign outside the 2008 cation exchanged during the mayhem in St. Republican National Convention in St. Paul, their Twitter accounts to “follow(16),” their Paul. The principal dispatcher, RNC08(18) Minnesota September 4, 2008. REUTERS/Damir assigned sector’s updates. This enabled Sagolj (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL posted the following: anarchists on the street to exchange commu- ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA) • Cops near Excel are searching people’s 14 Vol.15, No.2 Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International
  4. 4. www.thejournalofcounterterrorism.org bags for goggles and gas masks-- hide as anti-establishment rhetoric fills the infor- them! 6:12 PM Sep 2nd from web. mation superhighway. Economic decline • 50 Riot Cops on Wacouta & 8th Street, only exacerbates security threats posed Several blocks from march 1:54 PM by these groups. The United States is not Sep 2nd from web. only susceptible to attacks from Al-Qaeda • Reinforcements needed at 7th and but also from a slew of extremists within Minnesota- cops are going to use gas its own borders. 10:30 AM Sep 1st from web. • 40 activists at sector one meet point. About the Author One van of riot cops. Wacouta com- mons 10:06 AM Sep 1st from web. Mr. Lance Lamoreaux, B.A., M.L.S. Candidate, is an • Police being dispatched to check out intern at The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response. He is supervised by ITRR Co-Director group of =~ 400 near United Hospital Michael Perelman / Smith also checking out Smith S, will be doing recon 3:56 PM Aug 30th 1. Found at www.twitter.com, 2. See appendix for example 3. Updates can be made in Arabic, Danish, Dutch, English, Finish, from web. French, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, • Here are a number of Twitter updates Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Thai., 4. Twitter.com. 1.1FAQ. http://help.twitter.com/index.php?pg=kb. from RNC08_Bike(19) page&id=26, 5. http://addictomatic.com/ • St Paul Police May Be Moving Ar- 6. http://twitturly.com/, 7 Twitter.com. 1.1FAQ. http://help.twitter. com/index.php?pg=kb.page&id=26, 8. Beaumont, C. (2008). rest Teams into Place on Cleveland “Mumbai attacks: Twitter and Flickr used to break news. Telegraph. and Marshall 5:35 PM Aug 29th from co.uk. 27 Nov 2008. Retrieved on 17 Dec 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/ web. india/3530640/Mumbai-attacks-Twitter..., 9. Deleted , 10. Deleted, • Minneapolis bikes are heading back to 11. Deleted, 12. Farnam, T. (2008). “Republican Convention sees violent demonstrations.” The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on 18 summit to regroup 5:47 PM Aug 29th Dec 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://online.wsj.com/article/ from web. SB122048791794897339.html?mod=googlenews_wsj 13. TextMob is software that allows users to share text messages. • Communication from the Twitter pro- It is currently shut down. http://www.txtmob.com/ file RNC08_announce(20) 14. To see entire PowerPoint presentation visit: https://lists.riseup. net/www/d_read/rnc08/WCSite/2008rncwc.ppt#256,1,Slide 1, • Police ordered to stay away from I94 5. Twitter.com here is a link to one of the sectors: https://twitter. between St Paul and Minneapolis com/rnc08_sector1, 16. Remember, to “follow” means to receive that profile’s updates., 17. Text taken from Twitter: https://twitter. because of 5 pointed stars on freeway. com/rnc08_sector1?page=1, 18. Text taken from Twitter: http:// GO TEAM!!! 4:03 PM Aug 30th twitter.com/RNC08?page=1, 19. Twitter.com. https://twitter.com/ rnc08_bike, 20. https://twitter.com/rnc08announce?page=2 from web. Conclusion By applying Twitter, the RNCWC was able to coordinate mayhem and stay a step ahead of law enforcement. Twitter is an ideal means of communication for coordinating large amounts of people as it is free and able to broadcast messages to untold masses. Law enforcement in St. Paul did an excep- tional job of gathering intelligence before the event. Their preparation and appropriate response effectively prevented the RNCWC from “crashing the party.” Law enforcement and security managers must continue to adapt and prepare for advanced A protester wears a mask in front of the technology. Typically, information on MySpace fenced venue of the 2008 Republican National and Twitter sites is relatively easy to infiltrate as Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, September computer “undercover” work is simplified. If 2, 2008. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION security personal suspect an impending attack CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA) involving masses of people, it is essential that they monitor blogs and other social networking sites for information and insight. Stability, peace, and order hang by a thread 16 Vol.15, No.2 Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International

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