U.S. State Department Funds Fugitive Manhunt "Game"

Author: Craig Blaha
Published: March 01, 2012 at 1:43 pm
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State Department runs manhunt contest to find actors posing as criminals in major citiesThe U.S. State Department is offering $5,000 to each team that can catch one of five "criminals" played by actors in different cities around the globe, reports Wired News. George Washington University graduate student J.R. deLara came up with the idea for the State Department manhunt after looking at other contests, like the $40,000 DARPA challenge that required teams to locate 10 giant red balloons around the country.The contest is being called the "Tag Challenge"

This contest will require local teams to find an actor that is impersonating a fugitive in either New York, London, Washington, Stockholm, and Bratislava. A mugshot of the fugitive will be released to the teams at 8 AM on March 31, and contestants will have 12 hours to find the actor and upload a picture to the contest web site. 

The contest is a creative way to test innovative ideas of using networked individuals to solve complex data or intelligence problems. According to Wired:

When a team from MIT won the Network Challenge — by recruiting 4,400 to help in the hunt — it was the first time many in the American government realized the power of social media to mobilize large groups of people. The MIT crew became the darlings of Darpa; several team members were sent to Kabul to help run a secret intelligence program that relied on seemingly-obscure data to gauge the vitality of the Afghan insurgency.

Using civilians to locate suspected criminals, especially with the FBI looking for new ways to monitor civilian media such as Facebook, should raise some red flags.

 
 

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Article Author: Craig Blaha

Craig is a privacy, secrecy, and social media researcher pursuing his PhD in Information Studies at UT Austin. Craig teaches undergraduate classes on Social Media and Privacy and the Internet and Public Policy. …

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