Quickie: Could UBL be on Twitter?

twitter logo map 09Image by Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten via Flickr

The State Department’s Jared Cohen spoke to NPR’s Scott Simon from Mexico City, where he has been this week for the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit. I don’t know what Jared Cohen’s official title is but his official bio says “he is responsible for counter-terrorism, counter-radicalization, the Persian Gulf, Public Diplomacy, Muslim world outreach, new technology and eMedia, and Youth issues.” Scott Simon asked, “If Osama bin Laden is out there, could he be on Twitter?”

“I mean, you’re getting at an interesting question, Scott, which is basically are hostile actors or violent actors using these technologies? And the answer is yes, they are. You know, Mexican drug cartels use YouTube to evoke fear through horrific imagery and video. Hezbollah uses video games to try to socialize young people to be comfortable with the idea of killing Jews and Israelis. Al-Qaida uses chat rooms. It’s rampant. The 21st century is a very bad time to be a control freak. And at the end of the day, we have two options: We can recognize that nobody can control these technologies — bad people will continue to use them, but that’s all the more reason to engage in these spaces. And the other option is to be fearful that hostile actors might use it and shy away from it. If you do that, it’s not going to stop them from using it. In fact, all it’s going to do is give them more of an opening without any effort to counter their narratives.”

Jared Cohen

State Department’s point person on social media and youth issues (official bio here)
State Department Guru Talks Twitter Diplomacy
NPR | October 17, 2009