Why location-based social media data is critical for security

Sports games at stadiums, hurricanes along the coast, protests on city streets, guest complaints at hotels, customer praise at restaurants, bullying at schools… Things happen at specific places. These human experiences impact all of us, everywhere, everyday.

Technology is playing an increasingly large role in these very human experiences. It is estimated that two billion of us will carry smartphones by the end of this year. These very powerful devices enable us to share our experiences in real-time with anyone in the world with a click of a button. And people want to share, using social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to do so. With robust GPS capabilities allowing shared moments to be even more dynamic, the identification of exact locations helps to deliver an authentic experience.

The volume of social content is massive – one billion monthly active users, 500M daily tweets, 70M photos and videos shared everyday based on data from Twitter, Instagram and YouTube alone. There must be an effective strategy in place for listening to and analyzing the sometimes-critical data it brings and turning it into valuable, actionable information for security purposes.

When do people share? They share when something really great happens or when something bad happens. It is these types of signals that organizations value the most. They want to know behavior so that they can keep the peace, limit the risks and dangers from nefarious acts, protect assets, break news stories, etc. Understanding real-time human behavior and observation happening at any place, worldwide without actually being there has become incredibly important and impactful. The means of getting and synthesizing this information is critical.

Location-tagged social media data is utterly revolutionary and represents unprecedented opportunity for organizations to support their missions and increase security in a fundamentally new and unique way. So how do you harness this information and make sense of it?

Like any new technology, education is the biggest challenge and imperative first step. Many of the organizations that would benefit most from location-based social media content have never even considered making social media work for them. They might not even be aware that people share their exact locations in this way so openly (and so often). Organization decision-makers are often of generations that don’t typically share the way younger users do. They might not even use social media. They don’t know that this valuable data is available to manage and improve their operations.

Corporate security groups are able to improve situational awareness by “listening” to geo-tagged social media posts. Incorporating location-based technology, they are able to map a location anywhere in the world and monitor real-time social content from multiple sources, with one click. These teams are then better equipped to secure facilities, protect executives, identify intellectual property leakage, and monitor unrest. There are myriad ways this type of monitoring is being used – and paying off.

Consider a recent intellectual property leakage at one of the world’s largest technology companies. Following a gathering of the company’s senior executives from all over the globe, the organization’s intelligence unit was able to uncover the unapproved sharing of proprietary intellectual property regarding upcoming, unannounced products via social media. By incorporating location-tagged data from the corporate meeting and listening to the social media chatter coming from the meeting site, the company was able to quickly curtail the dissemination of this proprietary information.

At one of the world’s largest online retail companies, the social media activity of the famous CEO’s stalkers is monitored. Based on the intelligence the team has gleaned from social media, the organization increases security levels during elevated threats identified via location-based social media monitoring.

A popular sportswear company used geo-tagged social media data in its brand protection efforts to monitor the residences of a leading counterfeiter of its products. Social media intelligence led to the successful apprehension of the counterfeiter.

A major e-commerce provider uses location-tagged social media data to closely monitor critical infrastructure where photos and social media posts are not allowed. The team has successfully detected highly confidential posts of prototypes coming directly from their headquarters, posts and information that they were unable to pick up on without the geography-based monitoring.

A Fortune 50 media company used location-based social media to monitor a disgruntled ex-employee who made threatening remarks toward the company CEO during an exit interview. The team established a “geo-fence” around the ex-employee’s home and identified death threats to the CEO across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The company was able to track all subsequent posts to monitor threat levels as well as proximity-based alerts to their CEO, keeping the CEO and his family safe.

Location-based social media monitoring empowers corporate security in the following ways:

Understand your personnel’s surroundings at all times
See what’s happening around your executives, employees, partners and other personnel wherever they are through video, photo and text content.

Real-time, location-based brand protection
Identify fraud and minimize loss by adding a layer of hyper-targeted geographical data to your intelligence set.

Monitor and protect all of your physical assets
Location-based content streaming means offices, facilities, event areas and other physical spaces can be monitored simultaneously to identify and respond to potential threats.

Strengthen your overall business continuity plan
The ability to monitor any location in the world, in real time, allows for preemptive action and improved response times during crisis situations.

Educate yourself on the power of social media and location-based data. There is incredible value in all of this data emerging across the social networks when filtered for the signals. Without that filtering, it’s just noise – and lots of it.

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