From Graeme Smith, the Globe and Mail: In the past few days, NATO officials have acknowledged that social media reports contribute to their targeting process – but only after checking them against other, more reliable, sources of information.
A Twitter account with apparent links to the British military has even taken the unusual step of asking users to submit the precise co-ordinates of troops loyal to Colonel Moammar Gadhafi. . . .
In a press briefing on June 10, Wing Commander Mike Bracken, a NATO spokesman, described the so-called “fusion centre” that pulls together intelligence.
“We get information from open sources on the Internet; we get Twitter,” Wing Commander Bracken said. “You name any source of media and our fusion centre will deliver all of that into usable intelligence.”
Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, the Canadian who commands the operation, ultimately decides whether to trust what he’s hearing.
“He will decide, ‘That is good information and I can act on it,’ ” the spokesman said. “Where it comes from, it’s not relevant to the commander.”
Some online activists have been contacted directly for their input. NATO staffers also appear to have set up unofficial accounts to solicit information; one user selected the name “HMS Nonsuch,” a term sometimes used by the British navy to indicate a hypothetical ship during exercises. That account describes itself as “unofficial, not run by the Royal Navy,” and offered assurances that Twitter is only a method of gathering tips that will be corroborated with other sources. (photo: AFP)