Social Media a Lifeline, Also a Threat?

Social media can be very helpful in emergency situations, he said, but it also could help feed information to those with sinister intentions.

"It needs to be addressed," Gourley said.

"Fears of aiding bad guys by enabling leaks of information are grounded in real threats," Gourley told ABCNews.com. "But those threats can be mitigated by training and education, including awareness campaigns aimed at our citizens."

Just as public service campaigns encourage young adults to use judgment when posting personal information online, Gourley said similar campaigns could educate the public about using common sense when sharing information about situations that involve the police and other emergency responders.

But other experts emphasize that social media is just one more feature of our new media world that we need to get used to.

Zachary Tumin, executive director of the Leadership for a Networked World Program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said that any communication channel can be a threat.

"Twitter's no different. It's how it's used and who uses it," he said. "In the case of the Mumbai attacks, yes, there's been extra activity. Is there a chance that it's compromised attacks? Yes. But is it likely? No."

So much unreliable and unvetted information flows through Twitter, he said, that it makes it difficult to "sort the signal from the noise."

If someone is monitoring their Twitter stream, they'll be inundatated with misinformation, disinformation and real information.

"And God bless you if you can sort it out," he said.

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