Facebook has been taking heat lately for recent experiments with their unsuspecting users. A lesser covered fact in this experiment is that it was conducted with Cornell university which claims to have not received any external funding. However, the University is actually receiving grants from the Department of Defense in order to conduct very similar research. Could the two be correlated? It seems likely.
The Department of Defense has completely changed its method for gathering information and trends. In the last 10 years, it has shifted its data gathering from little open source information to a majority of open source information. Social media users seem to know that their actions are in a public forum, but they tend to underestimate how much information can be extracted even when they disable GPS or geo-tag apps. The Government is investing massive sums of money towards staying with trends with the hopes of predicting future outcomes and tipping points. The 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey are some examples of these.
The problem comes if or when social media users decide to abandon their forums for sharing information, but that seems unlikely. People can’t seem to help themselves from sharing their lives to the world, even if they’re self-incriminating. Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, the Department of Defense will be ready to adapt with the next platform.
Do you think the Department of Defense has the ability to predict future trends through a use of open source data gathering?
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