The Challenges of Social Media Intelligence

While social media intelligence can be very useful, it comes with its own set of challenges. The amount of data investigators must sift through can easily lead to sampling errors, which can occur when the information selected does not reflect the overall picture. In addition, many users find it uncomfortable to share their information with platforms in the wake of a series of data breaches.

1. Data overload

Social media is like a river, and the constant stream of content can naturally overwhelm investigators. With so many potential leads and noise, it's easy to arrive at the wrong findings, which can lead to poor decisions. Professional open source intelligence software enables investigators to eliminate the noise and focus on the most relevant information.

2. User identification

It seems reasonable to imagine that everyone would create an account for each platform, which would explain their entire social media presence. Sadly, the reality is more complicated than that. Fake profiles and bots are growing exponentially every day, making it increasingly difficult for investigators to verify which accounts belong to real people and which do not.

A third of U.S. users reportedly have fake accounts on social media, and there is no single reason behind the creation of these accounts. Whether motivated by a desire to share ideas without being judged or to spy on others, these fake profiles pose a significant challenge to analysts when trying to verify whether an account is legitimate. The bot problem exacerbates this fact. While the exact number of these nuisances is unknown, it is estimated that 22-65M exist on Twitter .

3. Declining trust in the platform

Trust in social media companies has been declining, with many users hesitant to share personal information online or inclined to self-censor. The reasons behind this mistrust boil down to two things.

In a recent Washington Post survey, 74 percent of respondents found the tech giant's data collection for targeted advertising intrusive and irrational. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal involving the company's sale of 87 million users' information, 72 percent of participants had very little or no trust in Facebook, compared to 47 percent for Google.

Data breaches are another major complaint. With billions of users' information compromised, Facebook is leading the way in this category as well, leading many users to be more aware of the types of content they share publicly on their profiles.