Stoltenberg’s Twitter jeopardy

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Security specialists are criticizing Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg for making himself an easy target for terrorists. Last April Stoltenberg “Twittered” his way through Europe as he drove by car from Spain after planes were grounded by volcanic ash. As he went, he informed anyone with an Internet connection about his exact whereabouts.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg had just acquired an iPad before his unexpected European odyssey began last spring. He used it frequently, inadvertently announcing his whereabouts to would-be terrorists in the process. PHOTO: Statsministerenskontor (SMK)

“We plan to stop for some food between Malmø and Gothenburg, can anyone suggest a good place to eat?” Stoltenberg asked his many followers. The prime minister’s impromptu tour of Europe while making himself available on the Internet was also a public relations coup for the producers of iPad, since Stoltenberg had just bought one in New York and clearly had fun using it.

Security advisers from Næringslivets Sikkerhetsråd (NSR), a non-governmental liaison organization that promotes industrial safety from economic and physical threats, warn that Stoltenberg’s active use of social media is a clear example of risky behaviour that should be avoided.

“This is not how leaders should make use of social media,” Arne Røed Simonsen, senior security adviser for NSR, told newspaper Aftenposten. “It’s not the worst example, though. There are many people on Facebook and Twitter who are targets of attention. They post their flight numbers when they go to Washington or Brussels and they write about who they are going to meet and what they will be doing.

“Those who may be targets for spies or criminals should avoid giving details ahead of time of where they will be,”  says Simonsen. “If you use social media indiscriminately, the consequences can be serious.”

Simonsen thinks Stoltenberg has toned down his Twittering since his roadtrip last spring. He remains ahead of his rivals, though, when it comes to use of social media. Neither the Conservatives’ leader, Erna Solberg, Progress Party boss Siv Jensen nor the head of the Socialist Left Party, Kristin Halvorsen, have as many fans or as much traffic as Labour’s Jens Stoltenberg.

Simonsen doesn’t think leading politicians have to avoid social media. “As long as they have thought out what they are doing and are aware of the consequences, it’s not dangerous,” concludes Røed Simonsen.

Views and News from Norway/Sven Goll
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