It sounds like a bad movie plot: The Pentagon is looking for people with special knowledge. People with unique skills. People who know how to use . . .Twitter and Facebook.
But as goofy as it sounds, the New York Times reported Tuesday that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, is seeking researchers who can build programs to detect and track popular ideas on social networks.
Or, as the Times’ David Streitfeld puts it, a meme-tracker.
That makes a certain amount of sense, if you think about how Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks have been used to broadcast the ideas of revolutionaries, protesters and other political figures over the past few years.
And, as the report highlights, DARPA could also use the social networks to identify threats.It suggests, for example, that the agency could look into incidences of several people in the same area posting messages about rumors that a wanted individual is hiding nearby.
DARPA is far from the only government agency to try to leverage the power of social networks. The Department of Homeland Security said in April that it’s considering using Twitter and Facebook to communicate the national terror threat level.