Introducing Social Media Intelligence

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This paper aims to introduce the British security community to social media intelligence (SOCMINT) in a manner that allows for its professional and structured use as part of the national intelligence framework. In order to create a useful and ethnical framework for the use of SOCMINT by intelligence authorities, the authors believe that two important tests must be met: 1). SOCMINT must rest on a solid methodological foundation including: collection, evidence, verification, understanding, and application; 2). The collection and processing of SOCMINT must be done in a legitimate and moral manner. In addressing these issues, the authors provide frameworks for both SOCMINT methodology and moral concerns related to SOCMINT processes.

This paper will be of use to practitioners and researchers looking at understanding debates around the structures required to carry out SOCMINT in a professional and thorough manner. It raises crucial issues of public engagement in a democratic society with regards to the collection of digital information. The authors call for the creation of social media science as an applied academic discipline, built upon relationships between industry and academia and focused on strengthening long term capabilities. The input of social science and humanities professionals are also required according to the authors, in order to provide a well-rounded analysis of SOCMINT. The authors further argue that SOCMINT must be pursued with public understanding of the processes involved and with respect for human rights and democratic principles.

Sir David Omand, Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller