Targeted social mobilization in a global manhunt

Rutherford, A, Cebrian, M, Rahwan, I, Dsouza, S, McInerney, James, Naroditskiy, Victor, Venanzi, Matteo, Jennings, Nicholas R., deLara, J. R., Wahlstedt, E and Miller, S. U. (2013) Targeted social mobilization in a global manhunt PLoS ONE, 8, (9), e74628. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074628).


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Social mobilization, the ability to mobilize large numbers of people via social networks to achieve highly
distributed tasks, has received signi?cant attention in recent times. This growing capability, facilitated by
modern communication technology, is highly relevant to endeavors which require the search for individuals
that possess rare information or skills, such as ?nding medical doctors during disasters, or searching for
missing people. An open question remains, as to whether in time-critical situations, people are able
to recruit in a targeted manner, or whether they resort to so-called blind search, recruiting as many
acquaintances as possible via broadcast communication. To explore this question, we examine data
from our recent success in the U.S. State Department's Tag Challenge, which required locating and
photographing 5 target persons in 5 di?erent cities in the United States and Europe { in under 12
hours { based only on a single mug-shot. We ?nd that people are able to consistently route information
in a targeted fashion even under increasing time pressure. We derive an analytical model for social-
media fueled global mobilization and use it to quantify the extent to which people were targeting their
peers during recruitment. Our model estimates that approximately 1 in 3 messages were of targeted
fashion during the most time-sensitive period of the challenge. This is a novel observation at such short
temporal scales, and calls for opportunities for devising viral incentive schemes that provide distance
or time-sensitive rewards to approach the target geography more rapidly. This observation of `12 hours
of separation' between individuals has applications in multiple areas from emergency preparedness, to
political mobilization.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074628
ISSNs: 1932-6203 (print)
Organisations: Agents, Interactions & Complexity
ePrint ID: 356015
Date :
Date Event
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2013 15:52
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 15:03
Further Information:Google Scholar

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