Twitter got a lot of attention from the various press outlets today for its value in following yesterday’s rampage by anarchists and the response by police.
One aspect of the social networking service is getting less mention: It’s being used to coordinate the violence.
This evening, for example, the Twitter feed for the anarchist group at a protest outside the Xcel Energy Center, where the Republican National Convention is being held, warned, “Cops near Excel are searching people’s bags for goggles and gas masks– hide them!”
From the looks of things, the anarchists set up separate Twitter accounts for “sectors” of the city on Monday, giving the go-ahead at a coordinated time for the anarchists to break away from the peaceful protest and initiate a day of combat with police.
The system was also used to report places where protesters could get to delegates without police protection. At 2:31 yesterday, for example, one reported:
bringing in delegates at st peter and kellog WIDE OPEN
As the police moved on one sector, Twitter was used to move in protester reinforcements:
sector 2 requesting backup at kellogg and wabasha, massive amounts of riot cops
It’s unclear whether the police, themselves, are also monitoring the Twitter feeds to try to stay ahead of the protesters, or whether they’re doing anything to disrupt the communications. Nonetheless, the main Twitter feed for the anarchists reported on Tuesday afternoon that all of the “sector feeds” were not working.