Topic 8: Social Media

This topic will address the following:
- Methods and techniques to monitor (find trends and anomalies), filter, capture and store social media data (text, video, images, ect.)
- Methods and techniques for the analysis of the associated metadata (from where, when and how are people communicating?)
- Methods and techniques to extract meaning from the content of the unstructured, messy social media content, and
- Experimental results using social media to explore social/cultural/political processes and behaviors. Experimental results should articulate how new knowledge can impact C2 Agility in a relevant operational mission

Paper 035

Abstract Title: Drag and Drop Insurgency: The Application of Social Media in Insurgent Environments

Point of Contact (POC): Max Goldwasser

POC Email Address:

POC Phone Number: 404 863 5357

POC Organization: United States Naval Academy

Country: US

Authors: Goldwasser; Dannelly

Abstract: Traditional theory of command and control facilitates a commander’s ability to direct subordinates to accomplish a predetermined task, or respond to a new stimulus. In order to have an effective system, units must establish communication networks, a system for accountability, a hierarchy or organization, financial resources, and a capacity for planning and conduction of kinetic operations. Social media -- to include Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, and Instagram -- have grown significantly in the past decade. With the development of mobile technologies, peer-to-peer connectivity has increased, which allows individuals to promote information globally in near real-time. When used as a command and control system, social media has proven to be a viable option for a very low cost of entry. In conjunction with the prevalence of social media, conditions such as a restriction of free press, a limited telecommunication infrastructure, and an established volatile demographic, all create a recipe for social media to be not only the go-to platform, but the only option for a command and control structure.

A final criterion in a social media revolution is the concept of a “digital jihad”. People can contribute their expertise from anywhere in the world: editing or creating videos, publishing websites, establishing donation pages, and managing online social profiles like Twitter and YouTube. Anyone with technical skill and access to an internet connection can participate in the jihad with a continually decreasing cost of entry. Social media enables three large benefits to emerging insurgent groups: propaganda and recruitment, revenue stream generation, and command and control for mobilization purposes. In addition to analyzing the use of social media as a command and control structure by both the Arab Spring and ISIS, this paper will also address why, when the conditions above are met, social media is drag-and-drop option for command and control.

Paper 036

Abstract Title: The Vulnerabilities and Implications of Social Media as a Command and Control Structure

Point of Contact (POC): Max Goldwasser

POC Email Address:

POC Phone Number: 404 863 5357

POC Organization: United States Naval Academy

Country: US

Authors: Goldwasser; Dannelly

Abstract: At some point, every insurgency campaign reaches a binary state from which they will either enter legitimacy as a true state power or die as another failed attempt to radicalize a large population. A place of sanctuary and the ability to mass serve as the fulcrum at this critical juncture. Without the ability to disseminate information on a wide scale and establish viable leadership at large gatherings, an informed and united coalition is not possible. In the same vein, having a place of sanctuary enables the group to focus efforts on a common goal. The rapid rise of social media as a universal adhesive for groups centers around the fact that it address both of these needs with no cost of establishment; however, the use of this space is plagued by a significant fault: anonymity. Allied forces must introduce uncertainty into this lexicon of online authority. Once the identity of the individual behind a username is in question, the core strength of this space as a means of command and control for insurgency groups will falter.

When addressed early on in the growth of the regime, allied militaries can disassemble the social media C2 structure by leveraging misattribution to establish a facade of legitimacy. The use of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) offers a means by which to accomplish this goal, while also delivering actionable intelligence in the process to combat current, kinetic insurgency operations. This paper is a theoretical representation on action that can be taken after identifying targets and recognizing prerequisite conditions within a social media C2 complex, based on work done in analyzing the ISIS C2 system by the White Canvas Group in a cyber advanced support operation in summer 2014.

Paper 048

Abstract Title: Using Social Media for Command and Control

Point of Contact (POC): Bruce Forrester

POC Email Address:

POC Phone Number: (418) 844-4000 #4943

POC Organization: Defence R&D Canada – Valcartier

Country: Canada

Authors: Forrester, Bruce - DRDC Valcartier

Abstract: The domain of social media (SM) is vast and hugely complex; after all we are talking about billions of individuals and organizations contributing to millions of conversations and stories using text, images, video, audio and other media, often all mixed together. Could such an environment be used for command and control (C2) purposes? There are several examples where Twitter has been used (ISIS, 2008 Mumbai Taj Mahal Hotel attacks, 2011 Libyan civil war). Common to these examples are the real-time use of the Twitter platform to help coordinate attacks and the low cost solution that was needed by the actors. While organized militaries might balk at performing C2 in such an open environment, it is interesting to consider what advantages might be gained. Could the noisy nature of the internet provide the cover while contributing to agility and resilience for operations?
This paper will provide a framework for how SM could be exploited for C2. Specifically, how could SM be used to support the commander and staff to manage and integrate information. Next discussed will be the challenges to using SM in C2 to include: trust, deception and control. Subsequently, the advantages to using SM, such as is participatory nature as it relates to agility and resilience, will be discussed. Finally, a way ahead will be outlined for which aspects of C2 would benefit from the unique advantages provided by SM.