Israeli experts have revealed how the use of social media, Twitter, to be precise put the lives of victims and security forces at risk during the September 2013 Westgate mall siege.
According to a study by the Israelis, which was published at Ben-Gurion University on August 25 in the journal Plos One, tweets by reporters, bystanders and witness accounts presented a serious security breach and may have contributed in prolonging the attack.
After monitoring and analyzing tweets throughout the Westgate siege, the experts concluded that live information shared notified the terrorists on the armed response against them, which they were able to use to enhance their reaction.
The study cites one instance where the Kenya Police was compelled to demand a Twitter user to delete a tweet bearing images of military helicopters preparing to launch an attack on the mall.
The Israeli team also criticizes the mainstream media for their coverage which at some point bared the approach of the security forces.
ISRAELI EXPERTS HELPED KENYA WITH PROBE OF MALL TERROR SIEGE
Following the four day terror attack on the Kenyan mall by Islamist militants, U.S., British and Israeli agencies stepped in to help Kenya investigate the attack which killed at least 72 people and left scores injured.
A total of 67,849 tweets during the four-day siege were audited in the Israeli study. The Kenya Police, which had 20,267 followers is reported to have tweeted 569 times during the siege while The Ministry of Interior tweeted 1,533 times. The Al-Shabaab who claimed responsibility for the attack through Twitter, had tweeted 258 times between September 21 and September 25 2013.
OVERCROWDING IN CRIME SCENES
‘Self-appointed journalists’ (scene just after Moi Ave. blast)
That Kenyans have peculiar habits is without a doubt, and the Kenya Forum has on numerous occasions highlighted on how just some of these behaviours are in bad taste; one of these includes crowding around crime scenes just to take photos and give first witness account stories to the media, oblivious of the danger that they expose themselves to. In most cases, the overcrowding at crime scenes has even made it difficult for rescue forces to help victims.
As one ‘sober’ Kenyan tweeted during the twin blasts that hit two buses on Nairobi’s, Thika superhighway in May this year;
“Sad how we crowd crime scenes without caution for our safety. Let’s learn from experience if not common sense”.