Social media simulation for terrorist events

Robert Pratten 3 years ago 0 17

A good part of what we do in a terrorism simulation is modelling the public and media reaction to dreadful events. To make sure our social media simulation is as close to reality as possible we take inspiration from real world events.

Over Christmas we looked at the Nashville bombing in which a lone person exploded a van, which himself inside, outside an AT&T telephone exchange.

Using the Twitter API we downloaded a bunch of tweets that referenced the event and imported into Conducttr’s scenario editor.


We then look to classify the tweets into themes such as “factual”, “all-about-me”, “conspiracy”, “democrat”, “republican”. When we run a social media simulation of a terrorist incident we’ll typically create different event list for each theme so that the exercise director (facilitator) can dynamically blend the themes during the live exercise and stress or relax themes depending on the training audience capability. It also means the exercise offers a better template for modification in new exercises with different training objectives without having to build from scratch.

Different Lexicons

In today’s divided America we can see different factions using different lexicons and symbols to identify themselves and each other. Filtering personas by the terms “maga”, “patriot”, “stopthesteal” it’s easy to find the right-leaning characters and put them into their own event list.

Having analysed real events, we can then fictionalise our social media simulation by writing new content with what we call “smartwords”. These are variables that can easily be changed exercise to exercise and further increases the re-usability of a simulation. For example {data.ht_event} might in this case be #nashvillebombing but in other simulations #dallasarena or some other hastag. Such smartwords can even be changed live during the exercise to respond to the training audience or a red team if they are allowed to create their own.


The consequences of a terrorist event are felt from many different perspectives. When building a terrorism simulation, the point-of-view/training audience will for us typically be that of law enforcement but having created the “world” of the incident, it’s possible to build master events lists to train corporations for inaccessible buildings, loss of infrastructure (power, telecoms etc.), missing employees and so on.

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To build your own social media simulations or any other simulation, please ask for a free licence to try our scenario editor or contact us to build a simulation using your expertise.


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