Announcement: Conference on social media and intelligence

Social networkingBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS |
During the past four years, this blog has reported several incidents pointing to the increasing frequency with which spy agencies of various countries are utilizing social networking media as sources of tactical intelligence. But are we at a point where we can speak of a trend? In other words, is the rapid rise of social networking creating the conditions for the emergence of a new domain in tactical intelligence collection? Some experts now contend that the growth of social networking has given rise to a new form of intelligence-gathering: social media intelligence (SOCMINT). There are even some who believe SOCMINT should become a separate entity altogether in the intelligence process. On March 7, 2014, the Netherlands Intelligence Studies Association (NISA) will be holding a one-day conference in Amsterdam, to discuss this new phenomenon and consider some of the practical, ethical and political dilemmas involved in SOCMINT. The conference will open with a keynote speech by Sir David Omand, former director of Britain’s’ signals intelligence agency, the GCHQ, who currently teaches at the War Studies Department at King’s College, London. Other speakers come from intelligence and security services in Holland and Belgium, as well as from a variety of academic centers and non-governmental organizations in Europe and the United States. Longtime readers of this website will be familiar with NISA. The group was founded in 1991 with a mission to help focus and streamline academic work on intelligence, security and law enforcement. Currently, its network comprises of around 50 members, most of whom are academics, government officials, journalists, as well as current and former intelligence officers. The organization also supports historical research on intelligence and promotes a variety of academic activities on this and related subjects. Those interested in participating in the March 7 SOCMINT conference are requested to contact NISA at or visit NISA’s website.

3 Responses to Announcement: Conference on social media and intelligence

  1. Jacob says:

    It’s not just a “trend”, it’s already a daily practice in every intelligence service in the world, including here in Brazil, to the point that there is already a whole market for software to increase and turn more efficient the intelligence collection within social media and courses to teach how to do that at the state-of-art.

  2. Rob Luster says:

    It may be a trend in Brazil, and it’s definitely a trend in competitive and business intelligence, but we are quite a way from being able to call this a ‘trend’ in the state sector. Government organizations are very slow in picking up social media clues. There are exceptions, but my experience is that it will take some time before we can refer to this as a trend.

  3. Mike says:

    Speaking from a law enforcement perspective, this topic has only now begun to be addressed. LE is starting to realize that intelligence and information gathered from social media can be particulalry helpful when dealing with gang members. It is not being used to it’s fullest potential, but the awareness is growing.

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