When it comes to the military service, most people lose sight of the United States Coast Guard, which currently operates under the umbrella of
the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, but can be transferred to the Department of the Navy during times of war.
But the forgotten service was highlighted last week on social media when mentions of Coast Guard on Twitter spiked amid reports that three US Coast Guard personnel were shot at en route
to their hotel in Hodeida, Yemen.
Over 17,000 references to the branch were
recorded on the social media site according to OhMyGov Analytics, following
accounts by CBS and the Associated Press that at least one Coast Guard
trainer was injured in Sunday's shooting near the Red Sea port city--reports
which were confirmed by Yemeni security officials.
Coast Guard personnel speaking on background to the
Associated Press disputed the claims that the attack took place, but that has not quieted the Internet rumor mill.
open fire on three Coast Guard trainers," @themakolnetwork reported.
in Yemen; gunmen fired on U.S. Coast Guard instructors," @GreenNana wrote.
The competing narratives follow a surprise blast in the
capital, Sana'a, that killed hundreds and left several more seriously injured
as a suicide bomber in a Yemeni military uniform detonated a suicide belt just
before a military parade.
While the Coast Guard Twitter mentions correlated with news mentions, further analysis uncovered that of the over 506 news articles mentioning the Coast Guard, only three were about the shooting in Yemen. By the end of the week, the number
was 69, with zero about the attack where the shooting faded into the background as Tweeters focused on the docking of a USCG Frigate in New York Harbor for that
city's Fleet Week.
Does this analysis conclude that Twitter drives the traditional news cycle, or vice versa? Or perhaps the two streams of news in today's rapidly changing world are not as interrelated as cursory views of trends might suggest. Further analysis is needed.