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Do Marines Need A Few Good Tweeters? Pentagon Wants Social Media Experts

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darpa-logoThe U.S. military sees social networking as a source of information they can filter to gain insight into global potential conflicts, political unrest, and much more. Now the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a $42 million budget to pursue developing this idea, the New York Times reported.

"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," the New York Times noted.

While social media has recently been associated with such events as the Middle Eastern political upheaval, the start of these protests needed a lot of obvious conditions that could have been monitored offline prior to their involvement in the social media arena. No doubt the platforms are being used by terrorists, criminals and other sordid types - the restrictions for the military using social network sites becomes understandable - beyond just the obvious alerting enemies who monitor them for 'loose lips.'

The military recently started to use social media for recruitment. Maybe the past few months has made them more aware of the information exchanged on social media sites and its potential to incite actions.

Now it seems the military want to develop predictive models with the ability to filter the noise. Is a revolt immininent or is there a vocal handful mouthing off? 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 document linked to by the Times.

FedBizOpps really isn't an effective landing page - it almost looks like one of those 'get rich quick' sites.

"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," the federal site explains.

"Excluded" may not be the term wanted here - surely innovation is sought after. The work detail document states:

"develop automated and semi-automated operator support tools and techniques for the systematic and methodical use of social media at data scale and in a timely fashion to accomplish four specific program goals:

1. Detect, classify, measure and track the (a) formation, development and spread of ideas and concepts (memes), and (b) purposeful or deceptive messaging and misinformation.

2. Recognize persuasion campaign structures and influence operations across social media sites and communities.

3. Identify participants and intent, and measure effects of persuasion campaigns.

4. Counter messaging of detected adversary influence operations".

It is good to see the government is getting smart about social media. Now people who want to get involved have until August 30 to submit a proposal.


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