Imagine Twitter on 9/11

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Tweeting was not an option for witnesses, survivors or victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack at the Pentagon. If those individuals were able to log on to Twitter and instantly communicate their whereabouts to their social networks, what would have happened? Families and first responders may have had the chance to say goodbye or save a life, maybe.

Tweeting was not an option for witnesses, survivors or victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack at the Pentagon. If those individuals were able to log on to Twitter and instantly communicate their whereabouts to their social networks, what would have happened? Families and first responders may have had the chance to say goodbye or save a life, maybe.

Last week, when a hostage-taker instigated chaos at the Silver Spring, Md.-based headquarters of the Discovery Channel, perhaps the best source of information about the identity of the gunman and status of employees, including the three held captive, was Twitter, according to the Washington Post's Paul Farhi.

Twitter and text messages can provide situational awareness without clogging up voice networks, for sure. But those mediums also can spread wild rumors. Maybe Twitter would have relieved worried loved ones and warned other eventual victims of the imminent danger. It also may have pinned the blame for the attacks on the wrong people - or worse.

We'll never know how the outcome may have differed if Twitter were in use. And hopefully, we'll never have to find out. But it's worth thinking about this weekend, if only to be prepared.

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