The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Prague are sponsoring a social media gaming contest to test ways social media and open source data can be used to track terrorists and locate missing children.
The FBI announced last month it plans to develop an app to monitor public social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and this game shows the government is still looking for ways to expand its social media tracking abilities.
Tag Challenge, the social media game, will be played by people in Washington D.C., New York City, London, Stockholm, Sweden and Bratislava, Slovakia on March 31.
Here’s how the game works . Profiles and mugshots of five suspects in each city will be posted on Tag Challenge. Players will have an entire day to locate the suspects in a public area of their city. The suspects will be wearing a t-shirt with the Tag Challenge logo. Suspects are not real-life crime suspects. The first player to upload photos of each of the five suspects to the Tag Challenge website will win $5,000.
Players can team up with other players, but only one person will be rewarded the cash prize. Although funded by the State Department, the contest page says the game is “not associated with any law enforcement agency and the contest is not part of any law enforcement effort.” Graduate students from six countries who participated in social media and security conferences organized the game out of curiosity and for fun.
The game will offer government officials insight to “whether and how social media can be used to accomplish a realistic, time-sensitive, international law enforcement goal,” the Tag Challenge website says. “Results, strategies, and any data derived from the event will be made public after its conclusion.”