LANGLEY – On Thursday, members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) warned Twitter about the dangers of silencing President Trump. Twitter has closed over a million accounts for promoting extremism or violence, activities which violate the platform’s terms of service. The President’s tweets range from mildly controversial to deliberately incendiary: He taunted North Korea with the “much bigger & more powerful” U.S. nuclear button and, in April, vowed “nice and new and ‘smart!'” missiles would target Syria. While the language may indeed be a threat of violence, the CIA argued that banning Trump could seriously undermine the nation’s intelligence gathering.
The Intelligence Community frequently uses social media platforms to research possible threats, and Twitter is an especially valuable resource. Tweet timing can delineate a person’s schedule. Interactions with tweets inform network analysis. Word choice allows analysts to develop a profile of the individual. Most importantly, the messages provide insights into a target’s intentions and plans. “There are schedules detailing his TV-watching habits. We have folders on all the people he’s had great conversations with,” explained CIA analyst John Doe. “We think the President is prone to lashing out emotionally, while others with access to his account are far more restrained. But what we know for sure is, if we look away for even a moment, we will have no idea what’s actually happening.”
Tweets have presaged multiple important administration decisions. Details on policy developments, such as the transgender military ban and the push to save Chinese firm ZTE, appeared on Twitter before government personnel received official notice. Doe further admitted that “[w]e wouldn’t have known about Syria and the missiles without the tweet,” referencing the President’s April 11 proclamation. Trump has also used his account to announce staffing decisions, the now-exasperated Doe explained. “We found out our Director was leaving to replace Tillerson from a damn tweet.”