Content Discovery Smackdown: Hootsuite vs. Buffer vs. KloutContent Marketing Minds: Ingredients of the Tastiest Content [Nutrition Label]From the Corn Field to the Digital Era: Content Marketing Starts with TrustContent Marketing: Is 2014 Really Shaping Up to Be the Year of Video?
Your Customers Aren’t Listening! How to Create Consumer Dialogue that Converts4 Tools for Nonprofit Social Listening and Reputation ManagementThe Promising Role of Social Listening in Treating Health IssuesThe Importance of Social Listening for Brands
- Public Relations
Facebook Testing a Way for Users to Buy Products on the Platform7 Website Tips to Attract More Shoppers to Your PagesHow eCommerce, Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Redefine the Retail ExperienceSearch Query Analysis to Increase eCommerce Website Conversions
- Content Marketing
Technology & Data
Social Startups: Bizible Connects All the Dots from Marketing Contributions to RevenueCreating the Perfect Profile for Your Social Media Marketing EffortUsing GPS and Localization for Social AnalyticsAnalytics and Prospect Intel: Discovering Your Ideal Prospect
- Big Data
- Tech & Innovation
3 Security Risks You’re Taking Every Day While Using Social MediaShould the President Have the Power to "Pull the Plug" on the Internet?How Safe is Your WordPress Website From Hackers and Other Malicious Attacks?
- Software & Tools
- Small Business
- Social Organization
Celebrating the Grand Re-Launch of Social Media Today! SBH Podcast Episode 8Why Should You Care If Your Employees Are Thought Leaders?Beyond Engagement: The Art of Managing Social-Media Risk in Employee Advocacy
Why All-in-One Social Media Management Systems Don't Cut It for Social Customer ServiceWhat You Should Know About Customer, Digital, and Contextual ExperienceSurging into Q3: How to Make It Better Than Q2Is How You Serve Your Customers Costing You Business?
Join us September 15th in Atlanta for The Employee Advocacy Summit and learn how to unleash the power of your employees.
Post your event here and we'll share it with our community. If one of our members is featured, we'll promote as well on their profile.
- Marketplace & Webinars
The SMT Marketplace
Your resource for exclusive content and insights from Social Media Today, and opportunities to reach our community of professionals.
The Social Business Book Club brings you books, discussions, and insights from today's to business thought leaders.
Join interactive talks and and panel discussions with leading thinkers and practitioners on social media and networked business, or browse the catalogue of recorded sessions - all completely free.
Reach Social Media Today's community of marketing and communications professionals in an editor-approved context with a native advertising package.
Social Media as Intelligence Gatherer?
Posted on January 25th 2013
Pretty much everyone has heard the adage that “knowledge is power.” The great thing about proverbs is the vast number of scenarios or circumstances that they can be applied to. In this particular case I would like to interpret the saying “knowledge is power” as the acquisition of knowledge being tantamount to having the power to affect change. Keep this in mind as you read on.
A little while ago, I read an article on Mashable that essentially reported the Department of Defense is looking into a new way to analyze an ever-growing amount of unstructured text. This initiative has been called the “Data to Decisions” program. In a nutshell, the purpose is to find a way to identify connections between the information put out over social media and the passing of related events.
No great detail is given explaining how the brains behind this operation hope to pull off such a monumental task. However, some hints were dropped so as to provide a vague enlightenment. The article expresses an interest in developing a means to convert all of the information available in social media to a single format that can be analyzed with the greatest efficiency. The ambitious project seeks to track information clusters, deduce possibilities by combining existing data on things like current economic climate and social patterns. When all of this information is pieced together and interpreted, the idea is that action can be taken to prevent terrorist activity, avert disasters, and limit atrocities.
If nothing else, a project as grand as “Data to Decisions” has the potential to cock a few eyebrows and stimulate serious thought. Naturally, a lot of questions arise with respect to the plausibility, feasibility, and morality of such an undertaking. The voices of skeptics and conspiracy theorists would be few, but among the loudest.
I imagine the skeptic would take a look at compiling information into a single, computer-readable format and scoff. Attempting to find patterns in the amount of information could be written off as finding a needle in a hay stack. Additional problems arise when one considers how information is presented. Forget about veiling information in code. Based on some of the social media posts that I have seen, language can be pretty incoherent. Spelling errors, abbreviations, and deplorable grammatical/spelling skills make it a chore for many to understand what is being communicated. Isn’t it a possibility that resources would still be used in the attempt to filter out the irrelevant and ensure the relevant gets through?
Let’s say the program bears fruit and intelligence is gathered and compiled in a way that can be used with sufficient results to keep the initiative going. Enter the conspiracy theorist... It may put many at ease to know that people aiming to do harm are being thwarted in their malicious efforts. At this point Sir John Dalberg-Acton and one of his notable quotes come to mind. Believing that power tends to corrupt, the conspiracy theorist might say that the ability keep tabs on malicious activity may give way to more selfish interests. What would stop an institution from using gathered information to find and silence legitimate voices of protest and criticism? What if democratic values and freedom of speech fall to more oppressive actions and censorship habits?
Certainly, other perspectives are available and each has their merit. It’s fair to suggest that social media can provide a good deal of insight into the behaviors of groups, individuals, and social trends. On the other hand, developing an algorithm to predict human nature and calculate an infinite number of variables may be little more than a daydream.