Could a Tweet Start a Thousand Wars?

Residents of Yokohama, Japan may have been a bit surprised today when they saw the city’s official Twitter account broadcasting that “North Korea has launched a missile.” The erroneous tweet went out to 40,000 followers with about 3,000 retweets before the city took down the original tweet and apologized for its mistake.

Global tensions are high due to North Korea’s threat of nuclear weapons and Japan is readying its Patriot missiles to fend off real missile attacks from North Korea. The faulty tweet from Yokohama had blank spaces where the correct time and place of missile attack – indicating Japan’s dependence on social media to get information to its citizenry.

This Twitter incident follows a similar diplomatic fiasco in Cairo when the US Embassy’s official Twitter account shared a clip from the Daily Show mocking the Egyptian President’s lack of religious tolerance when comedian Bassem Youssef. The Egyptian regime subsequently responded with this:

The US Embassy hid its entire twitter stream after the fall-out but was forced to reinstate its Twitter account at the behest of Washington. Tweets relating to the original Youssef case were noticeably missing.

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