The U.S. military plans to analyze 350 billion social-media posts from around the world to help it track how popular movements evolve.
A tender for the project, based at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, calls for screening messages from at least 200 million users from more than 100 countries in more than 60 languages to better understand "collective expression." Messages, including user names, will be examined for comments, metadata, location and hometown identifiers.
While it's part of an existing Department of Defense Analysis effort to harness big data for social research, "the scale and global reach of this program is striking," Antoine Bousquet, a senior lecturer in international relations at Birkbeck, University of London, said by email.
The study's purpose is to look at social-media messages posted publicly between July 2014 and December 2016 on a single platform, according to a solicitation request. No private communications will be included and individual users won't be identified in the research, according to the Navy.