The State of the Art: A Literature Review of Social Media Intelligence Capabilities for Counter-Terrorism

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This article is a seminal piece and a foundational resource in the field of social media analytics and open source intelligence by some of the field’s leading authors. It reviews the literature and work that had been conducted by 2013, and assesses the relevance and value specifically for the purpose of maintaining public safety by preventing, pursuing, protecting and preparing against terrorism. The article reviews how information and insight can be drawn from social media sources, focusing on specific research and techniques that have emerged, the capabilities they provide, the possible insights they offer, and the ethical and legal questions they raise.

This article will be of particular use to PVE researchers and practitioners interested in all areas of social media research. The authors highlight that although social media research has emerged as a practice, it is not yet a coherent academic discipline or a distinctive intelligence tradecraft. It is conducted across public, private and academic sectors, drawing from disciplines of the computer sciences, ethnography, and many more. The techniques and approaches often reflect specific disciplinary traditions and as such can aid researchers and practitioners to expand their methods.

Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller

November 2013