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Social Media Spying Continues

US military studied how to influence social media

Following in the aftermath of the Facebook surveillance scandal, it has emerged that the Defense Department has spent millions of dollars into researching social networks, so as to better understand how information is shared and received, focusing on political protests like Occupy and issues regarding the tumultuous Middle Eastern regions.

Twitter users’ activities were monitored and analysed as part of a major project funded by the US military, mimicking Facebook’s ‘emotion experiment’.

The US Department of Defense (known as Darpa) looked into the vast spread of content that arises across popular social media platforms like Pinterest, Kickstarter and Twitter, looking into anything and everything from news of Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga through to more politically charged topics of debate. 

More interestingly though, several of the studies involved messaging unwitting participants so as to track their responses.

Unveiled in 2011, the program aimed to enable a better understanding of how to detect and conduct propaganda campaigns on social media.

Prior to the eruption of the Facebook controversy, the Darpa project managers wisely published a list of their activities. On the webpage where it has published links to the papers, Darpa states that the general goal of the program is “to develop a new science of social networks built on an emerging technology base”. Through the program, Darpa seeks to "develop tools to support the efforts of human operators to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information."

Darpa, established in 1958, is responsible for technological research for the US military. Its notable successes have included Arpanet, the precursor to today's internet. However, thanks to some of its more esoteric projects, which have included thought-controlled robot arms, city-wide surveillance programs and exo-skeletons, the agency has also become the subject of many conspiracy theories, and a staple in programmes like the X-Files.

Recent graduate and now interning as content editor, when she's not writing articles Katie can quite likely be found festival-ing, holiday-ing or reading a book (dedicated English student that she is). Follow her @KatieAtSMF.

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Social Media Spying Continues Reviewed by Anonymous on Monday, July 14, 2014 Rating: 5
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