Twitter cause a little controversy after Mumbai attacks – What about Pakistan?

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Yesterday’s terrorist attack at multiple locations of Mumbai resulted in a Tweets frenzy where minute-by-minute updates about the location of the blasts/skirmishes, positions of the security forces, location of the journalists and safe passages for stranded commuters, among other things, were discussed.

Indian authorities, however, cautioned twitters to abstain from discussing positions of security forces as terrorists might be following the same network. There were rumors that authorities are going to ban Twitter but they died after some hours. However, this whole episode has given way to a discussion about the pros and cons of Twitter. Critics are saying, and rightly so, that a social network like Twitter can never be a source of news as it has no authority and anyone can write any sort of rumor in the garb of breaking news.

TechCrunch lauded the tweets in its initial update post but a majority of commenters were of different opinion. One wrote,

I’m not against Citizen Journalism – but on it’s own a single photo means nothing – it’s only in aggregate or with corroborated accounts from trusted sources can you use such media to add value to such a news story.”

Whereas another one said,

Twitter has been successful in distributing the news and alerts much more than that of CNN or any news station in India, like IBN or NDTV, solely because its aggregating information from all places.”

Twitter is a great application and given the security situation in Pakistan, much much worse than India, Can we use Twitter to run alerts and break news? At least, we can update people about safe havens/exits in case of a major attack. But the basic issue is the low penetration of the application. What do you think?

Facebook comments:


  • Of course, here’s something similar that (the G&W author) Adnan Ali did last week:

  • I used twitter to post updates, as soon as the first blast went off outside Al-hamra open air theater, from inside the theater, just a few days back. So yes, we can use twitter for similar purposes as well.

  • Hi

    On the aforesaid issue, I have the following
    for your review and comment as well.

  • Once Oprah Winfrey pushes Twitter on her TV show, it will get big, fast.

    The many-to-many communication platform Twitter does have the potential for abuse, but also opportunities for jumping around abuse. For example, when CNN reporters made on-air complaints that Indian officials repeatedly lied about the progress of security operations in Mumbai after 26/11, this news was NOT replayed on India-based media sites but was relayed on Twitter.

    Likewise, the poor tactics of Indian security forces (firing from behind cloth-top truck enclosures), their lack of equipment (no night-vision goggles in evidence) and other obvious shortcomings could easily be relayed on Twitter. This can only improve public accountability.

    In India when there is problem, the government’s first response is often to over-regulate. With some notable and regrettable exceptions, in Pakistan the government’s first response is often to step back.

    So it is understandable that Indian officials would initially seek to ban Twitter on the excuse that it was enabling false or damaging speech. However, some might argue that the best defense against damaging speech is not less speech—but more speech.

    During 26/11, Twitter pointed out just how incredibly misinformed many people in India and the U.S. are about Pakistan. Twitter is helping bridge that gap, as we see with people increasingly following Twitterers across borders.

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