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The role of social media in the intelligence cycle

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Author: Forrester, B. · Hollander, K. den
Publisher: SPIE
Source:Broome B.D.Hanratty T.P.Llinas J.Hall D.L., Next-Generation Analyst IV, 18 April 2016 through 19 April 2016, 9851
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Identifier: 572922
doi: doi:10.1117/12.2242530
ISBN: 9781510600928
Article number: 98510G
Keywords: INT Cycle · OSINT · Social Media Intelligence · Behavioral research · INT Cycle · Intelligence agencies · Intelligence sources · Military intelligence · Open source intelligence · OSINT · Second phase · Social media · Social networking (online) · 2015 Human & Operational Modelling · MO - Military Operations · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


Social Media (SM) is a relatively new phenomenon. Intelligence agencies have been struggling to understand how to exploit the social pulse that flows from this source. The paper starts with a brief overview of SM with some examples of how it is being used by adversaries and how we might be able to exploit this usage. Often treated as another form of open source intelligence (OSINT), we look at some of the differences with traditional OSINT compared to SM then outline the possible uses by military intelligence. The next section looks at how SM fits into the different phases of the intelligence cycle: Direction, Collection, Processing and Dissemination. For the first phase, Direction, a number of questions are identified that can be answered typically by SM. For the second phase, the Collection, it is explained how SM, as an asset, transfers questions into methods and the use of different SM resources (e.g. marketer, cognitive behavioral psychologist) and sources to seek the required information. SM is exploited as a multi-intelligence capability. For the Processing phase some aspects are described in how to deal with this capacity (e.g. enabling other intelligence sources) and also which techniques are used to be able to validate the SM sources used. © 2016 SPIE.