Pentagon Seeks a Good Social Networker or two
Simon Telford / 5 years ago
Ok, you aren’t dreaming. Yes, the Pentagon is developing plans to use social networking sites as both a resource and a ‘weapon’ in future conflicts. Their research and development agency is offering a staggering $42 million in funding to anyone who can help, time to re-brand eTeknix then!
Social media will no doubt change the nature of warfare, just like the telegraph, telephone, radio and more recently the television did, and the Pentagon certainly doesn’t want to get caught short. Social media is already beginning to play larger roles in the unrest in countries like Egypt and Iran, the military wants systems to be able to detect and track the spread of the ideas both quickly and on a rather large world wide web scale. Maybe they should start with Twitter Trends!
It is quite clear that it would be useful for the governments to know whether signs of widespread rebellion were ‘authentic’ or whether they were being created by a small fringe group with no real support. Social networks could potentially allow the military not only to follow but also to control the action. In a 37-page solicitation, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency described how a would-be high-technology lynching was foiled:
Rumors about the location of a certain individual began to spread in social media space and calls for storming the rumored location reached a fever pitch. By chance, responsible authorities were monitoring the social media, detected the crisis building, sent out effective messaging to dispel the rumors and averted a physical attack on the rumored location.
The crisis was formed, observed, understood and diffused entirely within social media, the solicitation noted. But the success of the authorities was a fluke, the result of luck and unsophisticated manual methods.
If you an interested participants, you will have to hurry. Preliminary proposals are due in the next few weeks, but you might need to be a very large agency. The D.A.R.P.A warned that projects that were ‘merely evolutionary would be non-starters’, so they are clearly expecting a lot.