Data contained within social network sites may assist law enforcement in gathering timely information in furtherance of crime prevention, preservation of public order, and the investigation of criminal activity, including suspected terrorist activity. These guidelines are promulgated, in part, to instill the proper balance between the investigative potential of social network sites and privacy expectations.
Nation-state adversaries regularly use accounts on popular social networking sites to facilitate social engineering against DoD members. Information disclosed or discovered on social networking sites creates a significant operations security (OPSEC) concern and in the context of a wide spread collection effort could be by adversaries to form a classified picture.
During the current presidential election campaign, the five most prominent candidates — President Viktor Yushchenko, Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko, opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych, Front for Change leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and businessman Serhiy Tihipko — all established an Internet presence as part of their election campaign strategy. According to media assessments, however, the Ukrainian candidates have not understood the intricacies of Internet marketing and therefore have not used the web in an effective manner during this election campaign. Internet use is growing rapidly in Ukraine and future candidates’ sophistication in the use of web tools will likely increase out of necessity.
An Indian social messaging platform that enables users to build mobile communities is drawing parallels to Twitter. Called SMS GupShup [gossip], this Twitter-like service allows users to create communities. With nearly 26 million users, the platform claims to capture a significant chunk of total SMS traffic in India. According to the cofounder of SMS GupShup, Beerud Sheth, there are over 550 million mobile phone users in India and only 50 million web users. “With a 10 to 1 mobile to PC ratio and SMS serving as the most popular communications platform, the market is ripe for SMS Gupshup,” he said. Launched in April 2007, SMS GupShup is currently processing over 480 million messages a month and accounts for nearly five percent of all texts sent within India (techtrunch.com, 15 December 2009).
The use of flashmobs in South Korea has evolved from “just for fun” gatherings to a means of mobilizing new media-savvy users into civic and political action. Flashmobs became increasingly political in 2004 during the run-up to the ROK general elections and reached a peak of influence in 2008, when political flashmobs helped mobilize online citizens to take part in anti-mad cow candlelight street protests. The protests lasted for over 100 days and involved millions of people. As one of the most wired countries in the world, South Korea is especially fertile ground for future flashmobs, given the fun, anonymous, and easily-organized nature of the gatherings. Facilitated by emerging media tools — such as Internet blogs, smart phones, and mobile phone text messaging — potential organizers have ready access to prospective protesters against controversial policies and developments.
Based on the current observed levels of participation on social network sites (SNS) in Pakistan and the country’s past experience with street protest movements during the 2007 State of Emergency and 2009 lawyers Long March, it is possible that Internet users could leverage such sites to organize grassroots protest movements, but the intensity of such efforts would likely be limited by several factors.
The following report is a fictitious account of how a young person in America could become a suicide bomber for an Islamic extremist group. It is the fifth in a series of reports on Web 2.0 technology and future urban warfare. All references to people, groups, and products are intended for illustrative purposes only. As such, the authors do not suggest that any of the products or organizations listed condone or support extremist activities.