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In the Media

article imageObama's visit was not a secret to Twitter users in Afghanistan

article:324112:9::0
By Anne Sewell
May 2, 2012 in World
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Kabul - Most people didn't know about Obama's secret visit to Afghanistan until it happened. But Twitter users in the country had notification several hours before his arrival.
Social networks are part of the current world - any news can be spread within seconds to literally anywhere in the world.
It is obvious why President Barack Obama wished to keep his arrival in Afghanistan a secret. With concerns about the Taliban and recent attacks on diplomats and the NATO headquarters in Kabul, care had to be taken to protect the U.S. president. Obama was in the country to sign a post-war agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
However, Afghanistan's Twitter users were online and tweeting about Obama's visit several hours before his plane even touched down.
The first notification that the U.S. president would be in Kabul came via Afghanistan's TOLOnews, the leading TV news station in the country. Then the tweets started.
While the major news agencies, who had knowledge of the trip, kept silent, and Afghan and U.S. officials were busy denying that Obama was coming to the country, the tweet rumors were flying.
Buzzfeed Politics reported that it all began early on Tuesday morning, when a local Afghan news station sent a tweet that Obama had landed in Afghanistan aboard Air Force One.
This tweet was first noticed in the U.S. media by Joshua Hersh of The Huffington Post.
Hersh tweeted: "Is this right? RT @TOLOnews BREAKING: United States President Barack Obama has arrived in Kabul to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai."
This was quickly followed by a tweet from the Kabul U.S. Embassy, denying the TOLOnews report:
U.S. Embassy Kabul tweeted: "Reports that President Obama is in Kabul are false."
However, Hersh did not want to drop the story and tweeted:
"The whole is he or isn't he game continues! RT @Pressistan : All roads leading to Wazir akbar khan, US embassy blocked by police"
From there on, Afghanis took over. Tweets were speculative, for example: “The embassy says Obama is not in Kabul? They are probably being sly, and he is at a military base outside of the capital or has already left the country!”
Late in the evening official confirmation was made that the U.S. leader was in the country. But speculation remains as to whether the Taliban monitored the Twitter conversations.
The Taliban is known to use Twitter as a propaganda vehicle to report their successes and to denounce NATO forces.
Digital Journal reported on the explosions that occurred in Kabul only 4 hours after President Obama left the country, so it is possible the Taliban had knowledge of his visit via Twitter.
With Twitter it seems it is now difficult to keep anything a secret.
article:324112:9::0
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