The US Navy is embarking on a project to collect, archive and study 350 billion social media posts from around the world.
Details of the project were revealed in a tender document from the Naval Postgraduate School for a company that provides data. The aim is to understand more about online communication and how patterns of discourse change over time.
The military team behind the project has not specified which social media platform it would like the data to be collected from. But it has requested messages from at least 200 million individual users from more than 100 countries in more than 60 languages.
According to the tender, the study will focus on social media messages posted between July 2014 and December 2016 on a single platform. Private communications won’t be included, and users will not be identified in the research.
Among the additional requirements are:
Applications for this social media message gathering project have now closed.
"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," T Camber Warren, the project's lead researcher, told Bloomberg.