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US Navy Wants to Harvest 350 Billion Social Media Posts

Sinead Donnelly


Social media

The navy says the data will help it to understand how and why communities come to be formed around certain forms of discourse rather than others.

The US Navy is seeking to compile an archive of at least 350 billion social media posts from around the world in order to evaluate how social media users interact online.

The details of the project were identified in a tender document from the Naval Postgraduate School for a firm to provide the data. The military project team has not outlined which social media platform it intends to collect the data from.

Although the applications have now closed, the posts were required to be publicly available, come from at least 100 different countries and include at least 60 different languages. The posts should also date between 2014 and 2016.


In addition, the social media posts also needed to come from at least 200 million unique users; however, no more than 30% can originate from a specific country. At least 50% must also be in a language other than English and location information must be included in at least 20% of the records. The Navy has stated that private messaging and user information will not form part of the database.

T. Camber Warren, the project’s lead researcher. said: “Social media data allows us for the first time, to measure how colloquial expressions and slang evolve over time, across a diverse array of human societies, so that we can begin to understand how and why communities come to be formed around certain forms of discourse rather than others.”

In 2002, the US Navy was behind the creation of Tor, the anonymous browsing network.

Otherwise known as The Onion Router, Tor aims to conceal where people go online by using encryption and randomly bouncing requests for web pages through a network of different computers.

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Sinead Donnelly


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