Large scale perception and memetic engineering is what social media is all about, in fact any marketer who doesn’t understand the importance of memetics is fooling him/herself.
So, don’t you yet believe that security agencies and large corporations are using social media for perception management? Well, word on the street is that DoD’s Sentient World Simulation or SWS has already been integrated with large social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In fact there is even an official document in the public domain which sheds some light on their future ambitions.
What is SWS and what does it do?
The SWS is a model which helps translates the real world in to a virtual model which can effectively enable organizations to test a memetic campaign and its anticipated effect on a target mass in real time.
SWS is based on Synthetic Enviroment for Analysis and Simulations or SEAS. A commercial version of SWS is available for the private sector through Simulex Inc. Interestingly enough Simulex’s corporate website poses a rather interesting question on its homepage.
“What happens when you take gaming technology, inject it with the latest discoveries in management, economics, and psychology, and apply it to business, political, and social situations? The answer is Simulex’s”
The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency aka DARPA wants to have tools that overshadow the existing SWS model. According to a latest document, DARPA highlights scenarios where social media can be used for perception management. Given that social networks form the 3rd largest “country” in the world, I don’t blame them for taking such measures.
What does DARPA want to achieve through its SMISC program?
According to the document I read a few days ago. “The general goal of the Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program is to develop a new science of social networks built on an emerging technology base. In particular, SMISC will 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:
- Detect, classify, measure and track the(a) formation, development and spread of ideas and concepts (memes)(b) purposeful or deceptive messaging and misinformation.
- Recognize persuasion campaign structures and influence operations across social media sites and communities.
- Identify participants and intent, and measure effects of persuasion campaigns.
- Counter messaging of detected adversary influence operations.
Scope of DARPA’s SMISC
- Linguistic cues, patterns of information flow, topic trend analysis, narrative structure analysis, sentiment detection and opinion mining;
- Meme tracking across communities, graph analytics/probabilistic reasoning, pattern detection, cultural narratives;
- Inducing identities, modelling emergent communities, trust analytics, network dynamics modelling;
- Automated content generation, bots in social media, crowd sourcing.
So basically, the set of tools DARPA is after will have to recognize and dissect memetic persuasion and influence campaigns and then help identify participants and measure effects of such operations in order to neutralize or counter them.
Where is Google in all this?
Ironically, Google is struggling to make a big impressions in the social media sphere. However, it has partnered with the CIA and have invested in Recorded Future, a company which “scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come.”
Remember, “technology is neither good nor evil, nor is it neutral.” Kranzberg’s First Law