What is the future of OSINT, cyber HUMINT, and online influence? One only needs to look Mark Zuckerberg, who decided to rebrand Facebook — now Meta, in reference to the Metaverse. What will the Metaverse look like? At this point, nobody knows for sure. At this point, it appears to be an augmented version of video gaming. But it is more than that — in addition to killing zombies, defeating the Nazis, or winning the World Cup, people can have fully immersed experiences. Virtual meetings, tours, shopping can all be brought to life as never seen before. The possibilities are endless! How will this impact the world of intelligence, marketing, and influence?
Over the last decade, the rise of social media has provided a new playing field for those in the business of intelligence. With more and more people connected to the internet and active on the major social media platforms, there is an overabundance of information because people are overeager to publicly share and consume information. Using this data, which is readily available to anyone seeking it, is a major part of OSINT. Additionally, the internet and social media has led to the rise of a sub-discipline of HUMINT — Cyber HUMINT. Using social media and the internet, it is possible to interact with people globally and even enlist them as agents. With anonymity made possible in the online environment, along with the possibility for asynchronous communication, case officers can run agents and extract information from unwitting individuals without ever having to hold a live conversation. Instead, rapport can be built up online and case officers can consult their managers and peers about every single action.
The metaverse is expected to facilitate live interactions, much like online multiplayer games. This means that case officers in the world of cyber HUMINT will have to be more polished and more independent. They will not have the opportunity to ponder their next sentence, they will not have the ability to consult with managers and colleagues before responding. The ability to manipulate the metaverse, build appropriate spaces for each target, and hold dynamic conversations in real time could very well be the dawn of a new era in the world of intelligence. In just a few years, will we hear about a new discipline of intelligence? The discipline of METINT (Metaverse Intelligence)?
In the world of advertising and influence, marketers will have the ability to make their advertisements and messages come alive. Welcome to the world of METFLUENCE (Metaverse Influence). You may be the target of a campaign and not even know it, even more than on social media. But the metaverse will offer a whole new level of personalization and experience. Every individual could have a tailored experience which looks and feels real. Experts in persuasion will have even more tools in their arsenal
In the metaverse’s infancy, regulation will probably be minimal, and the metaverse will be like the Wild West. We are bound to see the new environment exploited by those wishing to promote their products or narratives in an attributed or unattributed fashion. The virtual meta-room you enter may not be so innocent, maybe it was created by Coca-Cola or McDonalds, or even by the CIA or the Russian SVR.
This is a unique point in time, in which we are venturing into a the metaverse revolution. The opportunities are endless and even more so — the risks.