US SOCOM admitted that Counter-Terrorism Special Forces scrutinize FaceBook and other social media to handle potentially useful information.

Exactly two years ago I wrote about the use of social media in the Military. I explained why social media platforms represent a powerful instrument for activities operated by governments and intelligence agencies.

Modern social media networks are actively used by governments worldwide to support military operations including:

  • Psychological Operations (PsyOps).
  • OSInt researchers.
  • Cyber espionage campaigns.
  • Offensive attacks.

Despite the large use of social networks, only recently the U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) admitted in recent Congressional hearings that the exploitation of these platforms is becoming a formal methodology.

The result is that intelligence agencies and law enforcement are using and looking for a new generation of tools and custom software for a more effectively crawling of social media platforms.

The US military is investing to train SOCOM personnel to use these tools and adopt best practices to search for information of interest and handle them in the proper way.

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According to a report published on the Strategy Page, the use of social network could be very effective in the fight of the Islamic terrorist activity.

“This will involve using the cultural and language skills of Special Forces operators to more effectively seek out and evaluate terrorist threats. The Special Forces have one of the largest collections of experienced counterterrorism operators who know the culture and languages of areas where there is a lot of Islamic terrorist activity.” states the Strategy Page.

Despite groups of terrorists like the ISIS are advising their members to use social media in a secure way, young militants and non-expert followers could provide sensitive information to the SOCOM personnel.

US military is investing a great effort in learning about cultures and languages of potential threat actors, Special Forces are providing significant insight and training for forces operating in risky areas, and this is possible also thanks to the analysis of social media.

“The CIA developed software to gather all this Internet information, filter and organize it and then turn it over to analysts to be sorted out, or, in many cases, translated more accurately. That last bit was necessary because machine translation software can automatically translate all those tweets and postings so that stuff can be identified and put in a database. But in order to get really useful (to the CIA) intelligence you need skilled linguists and analysts to double check and also find out if the selecting and sorting software needs to be tweaked (it often does).” continues the Strategy Page.

Social networking platforms represent a privileged source of information for the intelligence worldwide, the analysis of metadata extracted by social media could allow agents to track also Facebook users that are using pseudonyms to remain hidden.

Social media platforms represent a privileged communication carrier for groups of terrorists so it’s normal that the Intelligence agencies will develop tools and methodologies to monitor them and uncover the activities of criminals and terrorist.

Pierluigi Paganini