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The TAG Challenge: $5k Global Manhunt Using Social Media

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the where's-waldo dept.

Social Networks 53

An anonymous reader writes "CNET just published an article about a new challenge to photograph 5 target individuals in 5 different cities on March 31st. The TAG challenge will pay the winner $5k. Target mobility means this will be much harder than the DARPA Red Balloon Challenge which was won by MIT. From the article: 'On March 31, mug shots of five "suspects" will be published, and it'll be game on in a global hunt for "jewel thieves" in Bratislava, Slovakia; Stockholm; London; Washington, D.C.; and New York City, each of whom will spend 12 hours that day in public areas. The first team to upload photographs of each of the five by noon eastern time on April 1 will win the competition--and with it, a ton of international glory.'"

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Neat. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 2 years ago | (#39475519)

Things like this are why the internet is awesome.
It's also worth pointing out that the DARPA challenge was done strictly in the states, since this one spans several countries.
I'll be curious to see how this turns out.

who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39475531)

CNET is just whoring for the "social media" companies. In the old days we had America's Most Wanted which would kick their ass.

Re:who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39476381)

CNET is just whoring for the "social media" companies.

In the old days we had America's Most Wanted which would kick their ass.

You are so right. I mean, they figured out who killed Adam Walsh in only what, 27 years?

too soon? that's what posting as AC is for!

$5k + 15mins of fame (0)

jojoba_oil (1071932) | about 2 years ago | (#39475553)


Armies of look-alikes and false positives (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#39475561)

Now would someone, or a lot of someones, purposely disguise themselves to look like the targets individuals in the fives cities? And romp around all day in public? Nah, couldn't happen.

The volume of false positives will be amusing at least.

"There he is! Right next to Elvis, flipping burgers! With Angelina Jolie's leg!"

It just may be possible (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 2 years ago | (#39476445)

If all the five targets look just like Guy Fawkes.

Real fugitives... (5, Insightful)

Covalent (1001277) | about 2 years ago | (#39475571)

Don't announce where they're going, tend to shy away from appearing in public places for 12 hours consecutively, are capable of wearing disguises, etc.

This is possibly useful for finding the average citizen.

Oh, I see where they're going with this now...

Re:Real fugitives... (5, Insightful)

RogueLeaderX (845092) | about 2 years ago | (#39475625)

The problem is average citizens are as yet unaware they're fugitives.

There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers -- and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system. - Ayn Rand

Note: I don't agree with most of Ms. Rand's sentiments, but this is proving increasingly true.

Re:Real fugitives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39476111)

Note: I don't agree with most of Ms. Rand's sentiments, but this is proving increasingly true.

She was wrong on a number of things, but she occasionally knocked one out of the park. This statement by her mirrors current reality closely enough to actually be a little disturbing.

Re:Real fugitives... (2)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#39476431)

Note: I don't agree with most of Ms. Rand's sentiments, but this is proving increasingly true.

She was wrong on a number of things, but she occasionally knocked one out of the park. This statement by her mirrors current reality closely enough to actually be a little disturbing.

You know what they say... A broken clock is right as long as you can get someone to pay you for it. Or wait, I think I have my Ayn Rand maxims mixed up here. A high priced clock is right as long as someone else saw you pay good money for it? Oh what was it...

Re:Real fugitives... (2)

gusmolinadroid (2440828) | about 2 years ago | (#39476497)

Replace "laws" for basic primitive desires, like hunger or desire to sex. Forbid everyone from feeling these desires. Taboo the most primitive desire of all, one that every adult feels, and... presto. Religion is there. Not much different at all.

Re:Real fugitives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39476739)

The magic of DARPA's contests is that they're getting us to *compete* for the knowledge of how to spy on each other. Plus, they're teaching us that the proper way is to *collaborate* in gangs against each other. They make it all sound so innocent and red-blooded because it's a contest, like sprinting or bowling, except that we're being groomed to destroy each other using technology.

BTW, I did participate in their Red Balloon contest. Two friends and I got up early. As soon as the pictures were released, we created two duplicate balloons (even matched the font) and set them up in two places in our town. A few people were fooled and twat about them on twitter, but there were enough redundant answers for the others that we got lost in the noise.

It's too bad the human race turned out the way it did, but I'm pretty sure the next big flood will wipe out enough of us that some of our offspring will get another shot at making a decent world. The trick is leaving behind enough readable and *believable* history from our generation that the next people won't make the same mistakes. Obviously, it will be too hard to read hard drives starting from square one. Roman English in stone tablet form has a chance at being legible after a mass extinction, but if it's written like the Bible, then no one will ever believe it.

Re:Real fugitives... (1)

jedwidz (1399015) | more than 2 years ago | (#39481619)

twat about them on twitter

Oh dear... so I guess it's OK if you drug your mother through town and then twat about it for the whole world to hear.

US English is a strange beast.

Re:Real fugitives... (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 2 years ago | (#39477681)

She may have been right, but the problem I have with this is that she thought this was a good thing!

Re:Real fugitives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479025)

Good lord, no she did not. This is from Atlas Shrugged, and comes out of the mouth of one of the book's villains. You really have no right to criticize anything of hers if you can't even understand what it was that she was about.

blew my mind (1)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#39479819)

i would hate to point out to ayn rand that capitalist systems do this just as well as communist systems.

Re:Real fugitives... (4, Funny)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39475791)

are capable of wearing disguises

Have them wear hoodies, what could possibly go wrong?

Re:Real fugitives... (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#39481689)

I guess you didn't hear about the kid in Florida walking home that was shot to death? Look up Trayvon Martin.

Re:Real fugitives... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39482973)


Re:Real fugitives... (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 2 years ago | (#39476071)

geez...let them first attempt a relaxed version of the problem space before going for the uber hard version of the problem space. Anyways, the goal here is more about exploring the business model and social models that arise from successful team efforts...not the ability of a lone spotter to find a fugitive in a crowd.

Re:Real fugitives... (2)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 2 years ago | (#39476465)

The issue is that we have vast amounts of intelligence out there that can let us spot threats, but it doesn't end up where it needs to go. In the lead up to 9/11, intelligence analysts were writing reports with titles like "bin Laden Determined to Strike in US"; if they had also known that there were middle eastern men taking lessons in flying planes (but not interested in landing them) then perhaps 9/11 and two wars could have been averted. Attempted airplane bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was reported by his own family as being radicalized, they were worried about him and what he might do. His plot didn't work, but if those reports had made it to the right people, he never would have gotten on that plane in the first place. Likewise, Mohamed Merah, the French man who killed three French soldiers and three Jewish schoolchildren, was detained in Afghanistan by NATO forces. If that information had been in the right hands, perhaps they would have caught him sooner.

It's ultimately a social networking problem. People are connected to other people by links, often surprisingly few. There's the classic 'six degrees of separation', but these days, with social media, internet, and cell phones, the number of links has to be even fewer. But the information doesn't get where it needs to go. So how do we exploit a combination of internet and social networks to ensure that the right information gets passed to the right people, at the right time? The obvious application would be to intelligence organizations and government bureaucracies, allowing them to accurately assess threats and make the right decisions.

Re:Real fugitives... (1)

Cruciform (42896) | about 2 years ago | (#39478113)

Twitter for Intelligence agencies.

@CIA Questioned 3 parties of interest on possible strike against California reservoirs. Members of fringe militia group Yeehaw4Christ
@MI6 Moved against radical Islamist splinter cell in London. Terminated 3 hostiles. 2 in custody.
@CSIS Massive poop today. Prime Minister asked for Froot Loops for breakfast. Sent Bob, cutting our manpower in half.

the CIA --did know--. read Shadow Factory (1)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#39479903)

by James Bamford, then go watch the PBS Frontline special ("Spy Factory") online, it's free.

there are interviews with an FBI agent "on loan" to CIA working in CIA's Alec Station, who knew that al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi (Nawaf) had US Visas. He tried to tell FBI HQ, and the CIA told him not to. Ordered him not to.

you are correct to say that it 'doesnt end up where it needs to go'... but WHY didn't it end up where it needed to go?

"It's ultimately a social networking problem"

that contradicts the evidence from the Alec Station situation. the CIA --actively prevented the FBI from knowning there were two terrorists in the US--. Why did this happen?

We don't even know. Only recently, last year, did we find out the identities of the CIA managers of Alec Station - ten years after 9/11. Ten Years. It wasn't Congress and it wasn't even ordinary journalists who uncovered it, --- it was two guys in trucker hats who make independent documentaries.

One of the main FBI men, John O'Neill, who was an expert on al qaeda and terror, was fired just before 9/11, because he did not fit into the bureaucracy properly. He was not a 'insane maverick', he was a highly competent professional agent. He was also hot on the heels of the terrorists just before he got fired. His mentee, Ali Soufan, has written an incredible book about their investigation of the Cole Bombing, and Soufans work after 9/11 to round up Al Qaeda leaders and interrogate them. O'Neill was basically fired, and Soufan was ridiculed for his agreeing to testify about the incompetence and stupidity of CIA interrogators (torturers) who interfered with his investigations after 9/11.

When experts with high levels of competence like Soufan and O'Neill are disregarded and punished by the system in favor of incompetent sycophants, this is not a 'social networking problem'.

none of the CIA people have been held accountable. Some of them were promoted. Bush people blame it all on Clinton, Clinton people blame it all on Bush. Nobody wants to get to the bottom of what really happened. I myself can't even bring myself to write a wikipedia article about the Alec Station people who did this screwup, it just is too mind boggling to contemplate, and their identities are technically classified anyways, even though they have been figured out by the blogosphere.

All of this has nothing to do with a 'social networking problem'. it is about corruption and turf battles between politicians who lack ethics and morality.

(and no, i am not a 9/11 conspiracy nut. i have never seen even a shred of evidence that would convince me beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was an 'inside job').

Re:Real fugitives... (1)

rickett81 (987309) | about 2 years ago | (#39477105)

Real fugitives will get lazy. They may live undercover for a few weeks - but will gradually rejoin society in a place where they are less likely to be recognized. Hence the world wide scope of this project.

From what I've heard (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#39475673)

The one in London should be easy. You won't even need to use your own camera, given that they're ubiquitous already.

Re:From what I've heard (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#39476913)

The one in London should be easy. You won't even need to use your own camera, given that they're ubiquitous already.

That's assuming you're a government official (or you're the family member of one) who has ready access to those feeds.

In any case, it won't be a problem snapping any of those pictures given that those people actually want to be seen. This is after all, a cheap $5,000 publicity stunt, not an actual serious scientific investigation.

Re:From what I've heard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39478123)

Government official? Most of them are private. I suppose the police could subpoena every recording in an area then process it all. A lot of them only record 6 or so hours of video and run on loop so they better get their finger out...

Meh, why bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39475699)

Doesn't /b/ do this for the lulz already?

sounds dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39475821)

see subject.

Not worth it (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#39475953)

At $5K, it's not worth it to even make an attempt unless you're able to leverage teams of people already in those locations and are in it for the glory. Plus, once you consider how large some of these cities are, you'll need something more than just your team on the ground doing the work. You'll either need some form of an automated or crowd-sourced system. If you're doing the latter, that means either hoping you can rope in hundreds or thousands of volunteers, or else posting ads in major media with bounties for information that leads to the targets. Either way, the cost far exceeds the reward.

Re:Not worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39476119)

You'll either need some form of an automated or crowd-sourced system.

There is already such a system mentioned in the article, run by one of the MIT Red Balloon Challenge winners: CrowdScanner []

Re:able to leverage teams of people (3, Funny)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 2 years ago | (#39476257)

"Dear RIAA. Each of these people shared a Copyrighted Song."

(Twelve minutes later)

"Here are their GPS coordinates and matching photos. Here is your $5,000 fee for bringing this to our legal department's attention."

April 1st? (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | about 2 years ago | (#39475995)

Sooooo the April Fool's Day joke is that there's not $5k, right?

Re:April 1st? (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 2 years ago | (#39476467)

There is, but you get it in coupons for a cake store.

Re:April 1st? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39477035)

Well, we don't promise cake on our website, but we can offer session cookies. :-)

Re:April 1st? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479715)

I do, but the cake is a lie.

Not Toronto Asian Girlfriend challenge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39476033)

Flagrant false advertising.....

April.... (4, Funny)

theNAM666 (179776) | about 2 years ago | (#39476035)

>The first team to upload photographs of each of the five by noon eastern time on April 1 will win the competition--and with it, a ton of international glory...

Yep. They'll forever be known as the April Fools!

I participated in the Red Balloon challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39476045)

If that experience was any indication, this is simply going to be an exercise in marketing and publicity where the team which generates the most viable looking website that credibly offers to split the prize money will win.

The problems which that team will face are in noise filtration/evidence confirmation, counter-intelligence/anti-sabotage, and social engineering profit incentives which improve signal to noise ratio.

The last problem is an ethical / legal one where "have you seen this terrorist/rapist/paedophile" guerilla marketing is considered.

Missinformation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39476075)

I wonder if the organizers have verification schemes in mind...

Lame. (1)

blackicye (760472) | about 2 years ago | (#39476083)

What kind of DARPA target challenge doesn't place targets in Asia and the Middle-East?

Eastern Europe? Boooooring!

facebook app? (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 2 years ago | (#39476103)

Will we soon have a Facebook app for this?
Each morning when you log in to Facebook, you will see wanted fugitives in your area.
If you spot them, report it, and prize money will filter down to you.

Combine this with social engineering? (1)

NoahsMyBro (569357) | about 2 years ago | (#39476695)

I'd find it very amusing if somebody without accomplices around the globe somehow manages to deceptively manipulate people or agencies in the remote locations to help them solve this. For example, pull a Jim Rockford and through a phone call manage to get the local constabul in Bratislava to somehow capture and transmit the photo to the home-bound contestant.

THAT would be very impressive.

April Fool's (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 years ago | (#39476871)

"The first team to upload photographs of each of the five by noon eastern time on April 1 will win the competition"

I bet they've all got red and white striped shirts and big ol' glasses and have names that are "Waldo".

$5K Global Manhunt: A.K.A. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39477945)

Hunting prize: $5K.

  For U.S.A. citizens: Priceless !!!!!!!

Yours In Osh,
K. Trout, C.T.O.

Check out recent DARPA Shredder Challenge... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39478191)

Will they be sabotaged again?

Global Tag Challenge Team on Facebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39478665)

Would you like to participate in Tag Challenge? Then join our team:


The rules are yet to be discussed, but the proposed splitting policy is $1000 per city split into $500 for the actual photo taker and $500 split among all his friends on Facebook/Twitter who actually joined the team (i.e. liked the page).

Any comments? Suggestions?

Not much of a point to it (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about 2 years ago | (#39479247)

I understand this challenge was invented by volunteers and not some official agency based on tax money, right? Hopefully it's just for fun, because I don't really understand the purpose of it.

AFAIK already in the 80ies spy satellites were good enough to read newspapers. Even if that's not accurate I'd imagine with the process that technology has made it should be possible to automatically spot someone in real-time out of millions of people, as long as the sky is clear enough and the person occasionally looks up. Moreover, accessing the Internet, using a credit card or any other similar card once or using a cell phone should also suffice to locate a person. Heck, even NOT using the Internet seems to suffice for tracking someone down and sending a death squadron after him nowadays. (Not that I had any sympathies with the person in question.)

"False Objective" aspects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39488885)

Think of this as the counter to a "false flag" operation, where instead it is a "false objective".

The publicly announced aspects to this are the "similarity of DARPA's red balloon challenge", a crowd-sourcing project.

The not announced component of this project is that there are multiple tiger-teams prepared to try to discern the presence and identities of the groups and teams involved in participating in this "find the 5 people" task.

The real task is to compare the efficacy of communication-stream analysis algorithms and see if it is possible...

** given a preknown subset of geographic locations

** given a preknown or predefined set of "keywords" as given in the suspect descriptions on the challenge website

** given a set of communication protocols (TCP/IP, cell phones, SMS, IRC, intercontinental landlines) to monitor

** given that the group of collaborating cohorts will SELF-IDENTIFY by joining the challenge competition in order to win the extremely small sum of $5000 US and will SELF-IDENTIFY their Internet Protocol (IP) address while registering

Is it possible to track the presence of a group of collaborating cohorts and discern the identities of these collaborating elements?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what the real project is about. The players in this challenge are merely the guinea pigs and experimental subjects who will create the graph (vertices = collaborators, edges = communication pathways)

i ain't a marchin' anymore (1)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#39479789)

Oh I marched to the battle of New Orleans
  At the end of the early British war
  The young land started growing
  The young blood started flowing
  But I ain't marchin' anymore

  For I've killed my share of Indians
  In a thousand different fights
  I was there at the Little Big Horn
  I heard many men lying I saw many more dying
  But I ain't marchin' anymore

  It's always the old to lead us to the war
  It's always the young to fall
  Now look at all we've won with the saber and the gun
  Tell me is it worth it all

  For I stole California from the Mexican land
  Fought in the bloody Civil War
  Yes I even killed my brothers
  And so many others But I ain't marchin' anymore

  For I marched to the battles of the German trench
  In a war that was bound to end all wars
  Oh I must have killed a million men
  And now they want me back again
  But I ain't marchin' anymore


  For I flew the final mission in the Japanese sky
  Set off the mighty mushroom roar
  When I saw the cities burning I knew that I was learning
  That I ain't marchin' anymore

  Now the labor leader's screamin'
  when they close the missile plants,
  United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore,
  Call it "Peace" or call it "Treason,"
  Call it "Love" or call it "Reason,"
  But I ain't marchin' any more,
  No I ain't marchin' any more

-- phil ochs

Eden of the East is basically this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39481817)

A short anime series with a few movies. These tokyo college students make a super-charged augmented reality search engine and use it to help change the world.

Taking a picture of someone? Searches the database automatically (even the back of their head!) and lists the results.

Print your own... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39482437)

I'm going to print a fake tag t-shirt and walk around my city all day!

tag challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39493303)

Team Rave is ready for the tag challenge!! Join us:

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