View Full Version : Social Network Analysis (catch all)

12-09-2010, 07:15 PM
Moderator at work: a separate thread Social Networking Analysis and Homeland Security was merged here today.

Cross-posted from my Posterous blog (http://subbob.posterous.com/social-networking-analysis-crowdsourcing-how):

Social Networking Analysis & #crowdsourcing. How can #web20 tools assist in fighting terrorism? Thesis at @usacgsc

Can social networking assist analysts fight terrorism?

A U.S. Army Major at the Command and General Staff College (CGSC), participating in the Master of Military Art and Science (MMAS) degree program, poses that as the primary research question in the draft prospectus for his thesis.

The thesis - set within the focused program of Homeland Security Studies - proposes the following problem statement and research questions:

Problem Statement

Too much information frequently over-burdens analysts when identifying potentially dangerous activities. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, many of the 9/11 terrorists operating on U.S. soil possessed not only linkages to terrorist organizations in other countries, but also to each other. A great deal of the information that associated several of the involved parties was publicly available in unclassified forums.

Primary Research Question

* Can social networking assist analysts fight terrorism?

Secondary Research Questions

* What was the publicly available data on the 9/11 terrorists prior to the attack?
* How does social networking create linkages?
* How do U.S. analysts normally process Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)?

Crowdsourcing a Thesis

As the Chair of his MMAS Committee, I suggested asking those questions of the Web 2.0 community. Following David Meerman Scott's (@dmscott) example, where he incorporated his blog articles and user comments into the latest version of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, perhaps the research could be furthered through crowdsourcing.

Discussion Questions

Any issues with the proposed problem statement or research questions?

Recently Secretary Napolitano and DHS made the news when announcing the extension of the "If You See Something, Say Something" Campaign to Walmart Stores Across the Nation.

Does the analysis as proposed by this thesis merely extend that concept of "help[ing] the American public play an active role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation" from the physical domain to the virtual one?

Ray Wulff
12-10-2010, 12:47 AM
I believe the topic of discussion has already been answered. The intelligence community is well aware of the benefits of mining the data provided by terrorists utilizing social media.

I would hope the foundation for this thesis would be focused on how the current established forms of surveillance and intelligence gathering could be tied to the new forms of media dissemination. This would leverage the old and new technologies.

Note: The NDU held a fantastic one day seminar on Social Media which included an overview of anti-terrorism activities.
http://www.ndu.edu/iCollege/social/index.htm Which has an agenda only and is summarised on:http://govwin.com/elliotsv_blog/event-review-ndu-icollege-social/86857

All the best,
Ray Wulff
Riva, Maryland

12-10-2010, 08:35 AM
I would recommend your student tries the Search feature on SWC and views some of the more obvious threads: Intelligence, Law Enforcement etc. There is a thread on social networking already:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=9512

Have a look at David Omand's book 'Securing the State', which attempts to think aloud about the issues and he has been advocating greater use of personal data, he calls it 'protected information' IIRC:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Securing-State-David-Omand/dp/1849040788

There are immense issues raised in the thesis, not just the I.T. aspects which are seemingly being "sold" to us as a "golden bullet" by many vested interests. One European academic project has tried to grapple with the issues of Detection Technologies, Counter-Terrorism Ethics, and Human Rights. Their website is:http://www.detecter.bham.ac.uk/

Two other websites that IIRC feature thoughts on the themes are:http://icsr.info/blog and http://raffaellopantucci.com/tag/terrorism/

What the proposal avoids IMHO are the arguments over whether an active public can help in CT, as seen in several threads / posts or whether new technology - the virtual domain - provides enough help?

Somewhere there is a public comment on a German CT scheme that using data analysis provided a host probable suspects, not one when investigated was a suspect.

12-13-2010, 08:08 AM
Referring to the dead terrorist in Sweden, another illustration of the speed of modern news media, I assume their own work:
The suicide bomber who tried to cause carnage in Stockholm followed a series of fundamentalist Islamic websites including one preparing for the Day of Judgment.


12-14-2010, 09:34 PM
Hat tip to Jihadica for their excellent work on the Stockholm bombing and for this thread the link to Internet Haganah's work:http://internet-haganah.com/harchives/007103.html

12-29-2010, 05:17 PM
This article refers to data mining social networking sites to identify the 'hidden' threat and the more conventional post-arrest work:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/29/AR2010122901584.html?hpid=topnews

12-29-2010, 10:43 PM
Social networking can be a double-edged sword (or a source of disinformation, if you're slick)

The IDF has stepped up its war on Facebook, warning officers throughout the military that the social network site could be used by the country’s enemies to glean classified information.

In a letter sent recently to all commanders in the army from the Operations Directorate, officers were urged to inform their subordinates about the risks that exist on websites such as Facebook.

The letter was sent out following the online publication of a list of officers and soldiers featuring their photographs, names, addresses and other personal details under the title “Israeli War Criminals” for their actions during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip two years ago.

According to the Operations Directorate, most of the information on the list was authentic and came from two sources – civilian databases such as phonebooks and social network sites such as Facebook.


12-30-2010, 12:32 AM
If you're talking you are leaking information. You can have a completely unclassified innocuous conversation and leak classified information all the time. Utilizing a variety of analysis techniques and the Internet items that are part of public affairs can be used to gather information. What ship is sent to see, who got promoted, and other details leak substantial details about operations. Since the Internet allows for a deeper dive into repositories of data then was ever available before you can construct substantial dossiers of seemingly disjointed information that then can mean something. I talk about the principles in detail here (http://selil.com/?p=1696).

01-15-2011, 12:13 PM
Hat tip to JIOX linking to this blog article 'How 'Open-Source Intelligence' Sculpts Targeted Attacks':http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=787&doc_id=202619

Which commended this:
It was an eye opener, describing how various online applications can be used to data mine personal information and turn it into OSINT.

The presentation is a video of a session, nearly an hour and is called 'Using Social Networks To Profile, Find and 0wn Your Victims':http://www.irongeek.com/i.php?page=videos/dojocon-2010-videos#Using%20Social%20Networks%20To%20Profile,%2 0Find%20and%200wn%20Your%20Victims

03-22-2011, 11:24 AM
A satirical Onion segment 'CIA's 'Facebook' Program Dramatically Cut Agency's Costs' and an Iranian commentary:http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2011/3/22/us-espionage-cia-run-facebook-dramatically-cuts-government-c.html

There are some good points within.:wry:

05-11-2011, 01:03 PM
In the midst of what officials call an "appalling" and "alarming spike" in attacks on law enforcement around the country, officials are warning the success of sites such as Facebook and Twitter has made police even more vulnerable.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/05/10/officials-warn-facebook-twitter-increase-police-vulnerability/#ixzz1M34hnQyM

05-13-2011, 08:04 PM
A BBC commentary on:
...Technology is the only thing that can connect all these dots..


Caveat: catalyst for the comment being OBL's tracing and I remain unconvinced of the media reporting.

05-18-2011, 03:28 AM
In Satura Veritas. (http://www.theonion.com/video/cias-facebook-program-dramatically-cut-agencys-cos,19753/)

05-19-2011, 12:25 AM
I saw a tool by a company called Constrat today. Was very interesting set of tools for social network analysis. I'm not sure about the native/us born gathering of data, but seemed to be a workable tool like I2's.

05-24-2011, 02:16 PM
In Satura Veritas. (http://www.theonion.com/video/cias-facebook-program-dramatically-cut-agencys-cos,19753/)

Golly, looks like the SWJ Blog discovered this link. :D


Meanwhile, Marc Zuckerberg gets in touch with his inner Blofeld.

Facebook’s managers are deploying a new software upgrade that will dismantle myriad groups of like-minded political activists unless they get a special software-key from the company.

But Facebook manager are providing very limited information about which groups are being favored with the new key, prompting some activists to complain about possible political favoritism among Facebook managers, and many other activists to experiment with techniques and tricks to get the needed upgrade-key.

“Who is being given the upgrade?” asked Pamela Geller, the New York organizer of a 15,000-member group opposed to Islamist political groups. Without the special key, groups lose access to their members, she said. “I’ve seen people really freaking out.”

The activists’ worries about Facebook’s possible political tilt are fortified by the political activities of its founders and employees. The company’s employees donated heavily to the Obama campaign in 2008, just as did the employees of Google and Microsoft. Facebook-founder Chris Hughes workers as head of the online-organizing campaign for the Obama campaign, while company chief Marc Zuckerberg has declared himself to be an Obama supporter.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/dailycaller/20110524/pl_dailycaller/facebookupgradespursfearsofpoliticalbias;_ylt=AvqT bNU8K0znAnkWwwpZ5W.ve8UF;_ylu=X3oDMTQyOWlvMm9tBGFz c2V0A2RhaWx5Y2FsbGVyLzIwMTEwNTI0L2ZhY2Vib29rdXBncm FkZXNwdXJzZmVhcnNvZnBvbGl0aWNhbGJpYXMEY2NvZGUDdG9w Z21wZQRjcG9zAzUEcG9zAzUEc2VjA3luX3RvcF9zdG9yaWVzBH NsawNmYWNlYm9va3VwZ3I-

05-24-2011, 02:32 PM
Quick link on de-anonymizing social networks (http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~shmat/shmat_oak09.pdf) (pdf warning!).

11-05-2011, 06:24 PM
Hat tip to Enduring America's review of the press.

Starts with:
In an anonymous industrial park in Virginia, in an unassuming brick building, the CIA is following tweets — up to 5 million a day.

At the agency's Open Source Center, a team known affectionately as the "vengeful librarians" also pores over Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms — anything overseas that anyone can access and contribute to openly.

Ends with a reference to events in Bangkok:
Ultimately, some two-thirds of the reports coming out of the embassy being sent back to all branches of government in Washington came from the CIA's open source analysis throughout the crisis.


05-17-2012, 07:51 PM
Last month the London, UK radical think tank, Demos, published on-line a report '#Intelligence' on the use of social media intelligence and I found it today after an advert landed for a discussion forum next month at the Frontline Club, London.

From the summary:
This paper is the first effort to examine the ethical, legal and operational challenges involved in using social media for intelligence and insight purposes. It argues that social media should become a permanent part of the intelligence framework but that it must be based on a publicly argued, legal footing, with clarity and transparency over use, storage, purpose, regulation and accountability.

On my first reading it is a good effort, notably on the ethics involved, but is marred by an over-confidence in existing regulatory and oversight mechanisms in the UK.

Link to summary:http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/intelligence

The report itself:http://www.demos.co.uk/files/_Intelligence_-_web.pdf?1335197327

07-19-2013, 12:22 AM
Orca can figure out the likely affiliations of individuals who will not admit to being members of any specific gang, as well as the sub-structure of gangs – the gang ecosystem – and the identities of those who tend to dictate the behaviour of others.





Moderator's Note

For additional sources and comments see the threads COIN comes home to assist policing (in Law Enforcement arena) and Social Media: the widest impact of (in this arena). (Ends.)

07-19-2013, 09:48 PM
I will add two things to the Moderator's comments:

First, this is not just "COIN in policing." The in-depth use of SNA as a counternetwork tool grew in COIN, but to call this effort - as the articles here do - the adaptation of COIN in policing is a bit misleading. SNA is SNA, be the "SN" an insurgent group, a terror cell, a police department, of the management of a Wal-mart. Additionally, much of the analysis here is unused in COIN at this time (new research).

Second, SNA is not Social media. You can conduct an SNA of social media users, but you do not need social media to conduct SNA. The two terms do not mean the same thing.

01-09-2014, 05:01 PM
A short article which ends:
Like every analytic technique, SNA has great utility for the right question. Within its limits, SNA is unmatched and can be usefully applied to identify key individuals or organizations within a network, generate new leads and simulate the flows of information or money throughout a network. SNA, however, remains just an answer, not the answer. Used inappropriately or without a full understanding of the limits of the method and analysts will only be finding new and more technically sophisticated ways to fail. That, then, is the primary job of the modern day analyst: making the judgment call of which techniques to use and when. Equally as important as knowing when to use SNA is knowing when not to use it.

Link: http://www.e-ir.info/2014/01/09/the-potential-of-social-network-analysis-in-intelligence/

01-14-2016, 08:53 AM
A new UK Home Office publication 'Social network analysis of an urban street gang using police intelligence data' (33 pgs):
This report uses intelligence data from Greater Manchester Police to systematically understand local gangs, helping target police activities. The method identifies interrelations in gang-related, criminal, and drugs-related networks within the data, and demonstrates the importance of understanding the strong role of other social links within a network.
The report is accompanied by a practical ‘How to guide’ (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/social-network-analysis-how-to-guide) (14 pgs) for police forces considering using this approach.Link:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/social-network-analysis-of-an-urban-street-gang-using-police-intelligence-data

GMP have had a big problem with gang-related firearms incidents, including the murder if two lady police officers; after a lull the problems have returned according to recent reports:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-35250617

06-09-2016, 09:02 PM
From City Journal (NYC based IIRC):
Networks of Evil: Transnational criminal cartels, still poorly understood, are undermining order around the world. Here’s how they can be disrupted.

Caveat: one author is from a software plc offering their systems.