The US military plans to gather and analyze 350 billion posts on social media so they can track how popular movements evolve in order to intervene, manipulate and control them.
The US Navy researchers want to build a global social media archive with 350 billion digital data records as part of ongoing research conducted through the Department of Defense.
The military research project aims to achieve, among other things, an “enhanced understanding of fundamental social dynamics, to model the evolution of linguistic communities, and emerging modes of collective expression, over time and across countries.”
The surveillance program intends to gather and analyze social media records from between at least 7/1/2014 and 12/31/2016, with the data to be collected from a single social media platform, consisting of “all publicly available messages, comments, or posts transmitted on the platform over the specified time period.” The proposal does not specify from which social media platform the data will be gathered.
Each record must include all available metadata including languages used, location, handle, timestamp, and URLs associated with the posts.
The US Department of Homeland Security issued a similar notice, asking companies to bid on a contract to build a database that tracks 290,000 global news sources in over 100 languages. The contract also mentioned the ability to track “influencers,” leading many to speculate that the proposed database will be used to monitor government targets, including journalists, activists and political opponents.