The Air Force tracked online messaging service Twitter, video-sharing site YouTube and various blogs to assess the huge public backlash to the Air Force One flyover of the Statue of Liberty this spring, according to the documents.
And while the attempts at damage control failed — “No positive spin is possible,” one PowerPoint chart reads — the episode opens a window into the tactics for operating in a boundless digital news cycle…
The Combat Information Cell’s first assessment of the event said “Web site blog comments ‘furious’ at best.” Local reporting of the flyover was “very critical, highlighting scare factor,” it added.
A search of Twitter, which allows people to post messages of 140 characters or less to a circle of friends, family or fans, showed that users were posting a rate of one message, or “tweet,” per minute about a pair of F-16s chasing a commercial airliner, the cell said.
Media coverage over the next 24 hours “will focus on local hysteria and lack of public notification,” the cell predicted. “Blogs will continue to be overwhelmingly negative.”