Promoted

How Terrorism Unfolds On Twitter

The platform served as a virtual battleground as the events at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi took place.

1. Shortly after the massacre at the Westgate Mall in Kenya, the alleged terrorists, al-Shabab, began tweeting about their motivations from the now-suspended account @HSM_Press.

5. A handful of accounts, most tweeting in Arabic, cheered on the terrorist unit still inside the mall.

A tweet translated from Arabic.

9. After tweeting a series of names of alleged gunmen still inside the Westgate Mall, a second account, @HSM_Press2, was quickly suspended by Twitter.

10. The al-Shabab Twitter accounts have been suspended twice already this year: Once when they posted pictures of a French soldier they killed and threatened to murder Kenyan hostages, and earlier this month after threatening Somalia’s president.

Farah Abdi Warsameh, File / AP

Alabama-born Islamist militant Omar Hammami (right) and deputy leader of al-Shabab Sheik Mukhtar Abu Mansur Robow.

12. When asked for comment about terrorist’s accounts being suspended, a representative for Twitter referred to their Twitter rules:


You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others.

13. Another Twitter rule states:


Targeted Abuse: You may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be targeted abuse or harassment are:
if you are sending messages to a user from multiple accounts;
if the sole purpose of your account is to send abusive messages to others;
if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats

14. As the hostage situation inside the mall continued, leaders and organizations from Kenya also used the social networking site to communicate new information and volunteer opportunities, and try to keep morale up.

One hostage rescued alive, search & rescue ongoing amid slight drizzles #WestGate ^PO

— KenyaRedCross (@Kenya Red Cross)

Kenya Red Cross

@KenyaRedCross

One hostage rescued alive, search & rescue ongoing amid slight drizzles #WestGate ^PO

/ Via

Rescue operation at the Westgate Mall is still underway. Hostage situations are delicate and must be handled with utmost care and caution

— kdfinfo (@Kenya Defence Forces)

Kenya Defence Forces

@kdfinfo

Rescue operation at the Westgate Mall is still underway. Hostage situations are delicate and must be handled with utmost care and caution

/ Via

#WestGateShooting more people being escorted out of the mall by @Abbas_Gullet. ^PE

— KenyaRedCross (@Kenya Red Cross)

Kenya Red Cross

@KenyaRedCross

#WestGateShooting more people being escorted out of the mall by @Abbas_Gullet. ^PE

/ Via

This will end tonight. Our forces will prevail. Kenyans are standing firm against aggression, and we will win.

— NDOCKenya (@Disaster OpCentre KE)

Disaster OpCentre KE

@NDOCKenya

This will end tonight. Our forces will prevail. Kenyans are standing firm against aggression, and we will win.

/ Via

This is not a religious act of crime, but an act of terrorism, carried out by cowards. We urge all Kenyans to unite and Arise as one. Pls RT

— PoliceKE (@Kenya Police)

Kenya Police

@PoliceKE

This is not a religious act of crime, but an act of terrorism, carried out by cowards. We urge all Kenyans to unite and Arise as one. Pls RT

/ Via

20. David Kimaiyo, the inspector general of Police National Police Service, updated citizens and offered help to those still looking for family members.

My aim is to rescue as many innocent hostages in a professional manner to save them. Be calm. We have contained the gunmen. IG

— IGkimaiyo (@David Kimaiyo)

David Kimaiyo

@IGkimaiyo

My aim is to rescue as many innocent hostages in a professional manner to save them. Be calm. We have contained the gunmen. IG

/ Via

Those who have their people still in the mall should also inform us the location where they are and their mobile number and names. IG

— IGkimaiyo (@David Kimaiyo)

David Kimaiyo

@IGkimaiyo

Those who have their people still in the mall should also inform us the location where they are and their mobile number and names. IG

/ Via

Once again I want to assure Kenyans that we are working tirelessly to shame the attackers. IG

— IGkimaiyo (@David Kimaiyo)

David Kimaiyo

@IGkimaiyo

Once again I want to assure Kenyans that we are working tirelessly to shame the attackers. IG

/ Via

24. Many of the accounts urged users not to speculate or spread information if it had yet to be confirmed, and not to share any photographs of the victims.

Please avoid speculation on casualties. @IGkimaiyo will issue a statement with a full account of the situation at #Westgate

— NDOCKenya (@Disaster OpCentre KE)

Disaster OpCentre KE

@NDOCKenya

Please avoid speculation on casualties. @IGkimaiyo will issue a statement with a full account of the situation at #Westgate

/ Via

We'll inform you on briefings. Kindly avoid picking pedestrian statements. This is a sensitive matter which needs verification.

— InteriorKE (@InteriorCNG Ministry)

InteriorCNG Ministry

@InteriorKE

We’ll inform you on briefings. Kindly avoid picking pedestrian statements. This is a sensitive matter which needs verification.

/ Via

I want to urge our media houses to restrain from airing, posting & publishing sensitive images which may cause anguish to relatives. IG

— IGkimaiyo (@David Kimaiyo)

David Kimaiyo

@IGkimaiyo

I want to urge our media houses to restrain from airing, posting & publishing sensitive images which may cause anguish to relatives. IG

/ Via

28. Devastated Kenyans turning to Twitter to express their grief embraced the hashtag #WeAreOne.

No Act of Cowardice and Terrorism will ever make me less of a Kenyan. I will fly my #Kenyan Flag higher! #WeAreONE

— xtiandela (@#XtianDela)

#XtianDela

@xtiandela

No Act of Cowardice and Terrorism will ever make me less of a Kenyan. I will fly my #Kenyan Flag higher! #WeAreONE

/ Via

This lady has been here since morning providing food to the police and journalists at the #WestgateMall. #WeAreOne

— citizentvkenya (@Citizen TV Kenya)

Citizen TV Kenya

@citizentvkenya

This lady has been here since morning providing food to the police and journalists at the #WestgateMall. #WeAreOne

/ Via

RT @jmurikira2: went2give blood 2day.was so touched wen we were told Kenyans had given alot &so dey didnt need anymore #WeAreOne #Pray4kenya

— tune2mie (@datboi)

datboi

@tune2mie

RT @jmurikira2: went2give blood 2day.was so touched wen we were told Kenyans had given alot &so dey didnt need anymore #WeAreOne #Pray4kenya

/ Via

Please join us by lighting a candle for #Kenya today. It is not over, but #WeAreOne. #UmojaNiNguvu (Unity Is Strength) #Westgate

— ZawadiN (@Zawadi Nyong'o)

Zawadi Nyong’o

@ZawadiN

Please join us by lighting a candle for #Kenya today. It is not over, but #WeAreOne. #UmojaNiNguvu (Unity Is Strength) #Westgate

/ Via

Can't remember last when i saw #Kenya,together & United strongly. #Nairobi #WeAreOne , #Westgate shall come out of this. #Kenya #Victorious

— ItechJungle (@ItechJungle)

ItechJungle

@ItechJungle

Can’t remember last when i saw #Kenya,together & United strongly. #Nairobi #WeAreOne , #Westgate shall come out of this. #Kenya #Victorious

/ Via

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Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Rachel Zarrell at rachel.zarrell@buzzfeed.com
 
 
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