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Let Freedom Tweet

Deutsche Welle reports how activists in Egypt are using Twitter to organize and break the grip of authorities.

Amr Ghrabei, one of the pioneers of the cyber dissident scene recalls another famous tweeting incident. At a demonstration in Cairo, the activist Malek Mustafa had been taken away in a police car.

“Thanks to Twitter, different groups of activists kept track of the path the car was taking,” Ghrabei said. From his home computer, the activist published the various Twitter messages on the homepage of the opposition movement Kifava.

“Because of that, they actually managed to surround the police car and finally had Malek released,” added Ghrabei.

Highly distributed communication is a friend of these activists, but every tool like this is double-edged. It will be interesting to see how authorities respond to the organized popular movements. A twitter like “arrested” is a fairly obvious and innocent example of a tweet, but what about cases like “let him have it“?

Wired covers the other side of this story in their Danger Room

“Recognizing that the Taliban tactic is to exaggerate, lie, and create situations that cause civilian casualties, I have attempted to counter that with speed, accuracy and transparency in our reporting,” Col. Greg Julian, the top spokesman for USFOR-A, tells Danger Room.

But the really interesting point is what kinds of information these tools relay. Earlier today, USFOR-A — which is separate from the NATO International Security Assistance Force — used its Twitter page to post a tally of enemy dead. According to the tweet, six militants responsible for attacks in the province were killed in an operation in Wardak Province.

The one-to-many nature of Tweets brings with it convenience such as speed, but is it accurate or trustworthy? Impersonation seems trivial, and there is danger that a trickle of vital facts today that seem like a new form of transparency could easily turn into a firehose of noise with little or no way to filter.

Posted in Security.

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