Will Twitter Lead to US Spring?

August 28, 2012

Any doubts about Internet censorship as the next big thing? Check out TechNewsWorld’s “How Twitter Could Trigger a US Revolution” for an example of tech-related alarmism. The piece starts by explaining why our country is not immune to the sort of turmoil many other countries have been experiencing. Writer Rob Enderle supplies several reasons, which he summarizes with:

“In short, there is a growing number of increasingly heavily armed people [in the US] becoming convinced that their government is catastrophically flawed, and that the system itself — not just the people in it — is the cause. That would appear to be a formula for revolution, and key indicators appear to be drifting in that direction at the moment.”

Okay. . . . Enderle goes on to tie in the Twitter factor. He writes:

“What Twitter does that is unique is that it puts no time between the concept of a news item and what is published. . . .

“This suggests that a revolutionary group, hostile country, or terrorist group could relatively easily manufacture an event that could cause several large-scale riots — and if they controlled enough of the tweets, propagate them into revolution.”

The potential scene he describes involves disgruntled and understaffed law enforcement; rioters who will ignore all accurate but non-Twitter-hosted news stories; and revolutionaries egging each other on with hyperbole-filled tweets. He thinks the scenario unlikely—what a relief!—but says the thought exercise shows that we are vulnerable to Twitter-based upheaval.

Sigh. Enderle has a good point here and there, but the whole write up makes me think back over my history. Prophecies of doom have accompanied every step of our society’s advancement, and most (though not all) have proven to be off the mark. Let us hope that is the case with Enderle’s observations.

Let us also hope that such speculation does not give our lawmakers any restrictive ideas.

Cynthia Murrell, August 28, 2012

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