The U.S. military is taking aim at social media as a starting place to pool information from platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The purpose is to gain intelligence into potential worldwide conflicts, political instability and more. For that reason, the military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a $42 million budget to pursue developing a strategy and funding to anyone who can think of ways to assist the military in analyzing social media, according to the New York Times.
The New York Times observed, “Social media will change the nature of warfare just as surely as the telegraph, the radio and the telephone did, and the Pentagon is fearful of being caught short.” I wouldn’t go so far to say “fearful.” I’d say more like avoid being caught unprepared in the long haul.
While social media has been linked with events like the political upheaval in Egypt and Iran, the start of these protests agitated the obvious conditions that could have been monitored prior to their involvement in the social media arena. But, no doubt the DARPA would like to monitor terrorists, criminals and other immoral types. So the group is soliciting innovative proposals to help build an internet trackerof social behavior. The tracking would have to go beyond discovering information from instigators with ‘loose lips.’
It appears that the military wants to be able to predict along with the ability to filter the noise if a revolt is on the way. They would like to be able to tell the difference between a vocal handful mouthing off and a full blown revolt. Who are the online influencers of social change in areas of interest? These are the types of analytics the Pentagon is interested in developing, according to the 37-page document.
Although I can understand the need to monitor the social media for any unorthodox behavior or potential harmful threats, I sense caution because “social behavior” is an opinionated field built by authoritarians on fabricated conclusions.
With that said, the federal website explains “DARPA is soliciting innovative research proposals in the area of social media in strategic communication. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice.”
On one end it is a smart move by our government to get smart about social media. I just hope they play it smart and not waste their money on needless projects, and hire someone who really knows how to monitor social media successfully in a cost-effective manner.
The military does understand that some cyberwarfare is for the birds. It is hard to tell what is real or what is synthetic on the internet. That is why they are soliciting help from outside the military arena. If you have any ideas or programs that the military could use, you better hurry up. You have until the end of August to respond to their solicitation.