Update 1: Our original Twitter collection of Westgate-related tweets included the following hashtags: #Kenya, #Nairobi #WestgateAttack, #WestagateMall, #WestgatemallAttack, #Westgateshootout & #Westgate. While we overlooked #Westlands and Westlands, we have just fixed the oversight. This explains why the original results below differed from the iHub’s analysis which was based on tweets with the keywords Westgate and Westlands.
Update 2: The list below of first tweets to report the attack has been updated to include tweets referring to Westlands. These are denoted by an asterisk (*).
I’m carrying out some preliminary “information forensics” research on the 740,000+ tweets posted during the Westgate attack. More specifically, I’m looking for any clues in the hours leading up to the attack that may reveal something out of the ordinary prior to the siege. Other questions I’m hoping to answer: Were any tweets posted during the crisis actionable? Did they add situational awareness? What kind of multimedia content was shared? Which tweets were posted by eyewitnesses? Were any tweets posted by the attackers or their supporters? If so, did these carry tactical information?
If you have additional suggestions on what else to search for, please feel free to post them in the comments section below, thank you very much. I’ll be working with QCRI research assistants over the next few weeks to dive deeper into the first 24 hours of the attack as reported on Twitter. This research would not be possible where it not for my colleagues at GNIP who very kindly granted me access their platform to download all the tweets. I’ve just reviewed the first hour of tweets (which proved to be highly emotional, as expected). Below are the very first tweets posted about the attack.
[12:38:20 local time]*
gun shots in westlands? wtf??
Weird gunshot like sounds in westlands : (
Explosions and gunfight ongoing in #nairobi
Something really bad goin on at #Westgate. Gunshots!!!! Everyone’s fled.
Somewhere behind Westlands? What’s up RT @[username]: Explosions and gunfight ongoing in #nairobi
Are these gunshots at #Westgate? Just heard shooting from the road behind sarit, sounded like it was coming from westgate
@[username] shoot out at westgate westlands mall. going on for the last 10 min
Heavily armed thugs have taken over #WestGate shopping mall. Al occupants and shoppers are on the floor. Few gunshots heard…more to follow
did anyone else in westlands hear that? #KOT #Nairobi
Seems like explosions and small arms fire are coming from Westlands or Gigiri #nairobi
Gun fight #westgate… @ntvkenya @KTNKenya @citizentvkenya any news…
Several explosions followed by 10 minutes of running gunfight in Nairobi westlands
Small arms fire is continuing to be exchanged intermittently. #nairobi
Something’s going on around #Westgate #UkayCentre area. Keep away if you can
Gunshots and explosions heard around #Westgate anybody nearby? #Westlands
@KenyaRedCross explosions and gunshots heard near Westgate Mall in Westlands. Fierce shoot out..casualties probable
Shoot to kill order #westgate
- We Are Kenya: Global Map of #Westgate Tweets [Link]
- Did Terrorists Use Twitter to Increase Situational Awareness? [Link]
- Analyzing Tweets Posted During Mumbai Terrorist Attacks [Link]
- Web 2.0 Tracks Attacks on Mumbai [Link]