What Kind Of Hammer Is Twitter?

In the ongoing debate about social networking tools, sites such as Facebook and Twitter are coming under increasing scrutiny for the potential of harm to users and those in their networks.

As we have noted in earlier posts, social networking appeals to a wide range of users and uses, from the simple and personal to corporate marketing and audience acquisition. Now, Google's Nicole Wong raises the specter of Twitter as a tool that can be used for evil purposes, perhaps even as a tool for terrorism.

At a recent conference on The Soul of the New Machine sponsored by the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, a panel of internet and legal luminaries discussed the implications of a rapidly growing internet on human and social communications.

The panel included such luminaries as Chuck Cosson (Microsoft Corporation), Bennett Freeman (Senior Vice President of the Calvert Group), Michael Samway (Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Yahoo), and Nicole Wong (Associate General Counsel for Products and Intellectual Property, Google).

Watch the following clip to see Nicole discussing the unintended downside of Twitter enabled communication and coordination.

This story represents a perfect example of the old cliché about how you use a tool. A hammer can drive a nail, smash your thumb, or club someone over the head. Of course, the hammer can't do any of these things - it takes a person to swing it.

How will the Twitter tool be used? Stay tuned!