Twitter and the #Ottawa Attacks

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This article assesses the degree to which social media, but primarily Twitter, contributed to hysteric reactions surrounding the lone gunman during the 2014 shootings at Parliament Hill, Ottawa. The central premise of this article is to ask the question of whether Twitter helped or hindered the response to a terror attack by circulating misinformation that was generated in the panic immediately following the attack. Petrasek, the author, speculates that Twitter may have even misled the police themselves by acting as a perceived reliable interlocutor of information. The final contention of this paper is that while Twitter is useful to circumvent authoritarian regimes and organize protests, it is more dangerous in times of crisis.

The issues touched upon in this piece will no doubt be relevant for researchers interested in the role of social media during terrorist attacks. While it is more of an opinion piece than it is an academic study involving hard research, it provides a valuable introduction to the issues at hand.

Full article is available here >>


David Petrasek

November 2014