Foreign Policy Blogs

"Osama Bin Laden Likes Your Status"

The Underpants Bomber had quite an internet presence and even a Facebook profile, according to the Washington Post.

Yet another reminder to get your Facebook privacy settings right. You don’t want to end up like these guys.

Steve Coll justifiably asks why such clear evidence of increasing Islamic radicalization was not unearthed after Daddy called to warn the US Embassy of the potential threat posed by his son.

I’d bet money that vetters have not in the past been looking for potential threats posted online via social tools. There’s a big generation gap with these technologies, and the people setting processes for assessing threats are unlikely to be on top of them. No doubt part of the administration’s response to the attempted attack will be looking for such clues.

I’m sympathetic, though. Trying drink from the firehose of the Internet is a real problem, one that we will frequently encounter when discussing these topics.

No watchlist can hold everyone who posts something on some Internet messageboard somewhere thas is anti-American or threateningly radical – nor should it for occasional flashes of rhetoric. But to investigate heavier patterns of threats when people do cross that line will be labor heavy – and it’s unlikely that real jihadis will be so polite as to post things with easy-to-match handles like “farouk1986.”