Washington Ideas Forum: Social media, mobile technology and our changing world
The following is a guest post written by Steve Rubley, managing director, Government, Thomson Reuters.
When you consider how quickly social media and mobile technology have been adopted throughout the world – according to a McKinsey report, it took Facebook just a year to sign up 50 million users and Twitter only 9 months, compared to the 13 years that it took for commercial television to reach 50 million households just a few decades ago – it’s inevitable that these innovations will have a profound impact on the experience of being human and relating to others in the 21st century. Additionally, consider that 90 percent of the world’s population lives within range of a mobile signal, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Unfortunately, in addition to its many benefits, this new technology wave is also opening up new problems. For example, Silk Road, a website where customers can purchase black market drugs, is bringing in $22 million in annual sales, according to Forbes.com.
At the Washington Ideas Forum last week, I moderated a 45-minute panel discussion (a conversation that could have easily lasted much longer) featuring three experts in the fields of mobile technology and its impact on commerce, national security and public safety.
Here’s a brief recap of what we learned from our distinguished speakers:
– Mike Saylor, founder and CEO of MicroStrategy and the author of The Mobile Wave, described the rapid pace of change with mobile technology and its impact on everything from education to commerce. Saylor stressed the importance of authentication in war zones and how mobile technology could be used to more safely authenticate individuals, which can in turn help to keep our troops safe. He also talked about the opportunity to reduce hundreds of millions in credit card fraud through more secure, mobile authentication methods.
– Chris Moody, chief operating officer and president of GNIP, a social media data company, spoke about the vast archive of data his company has compiled: It’s the biggest in the world. “We are sitting on perhaps the most important human archive that has ever existed in terms of human thought,” Moody said. Public social media data can also have applications to assist the public health arena, he said. For example, it could help to better predict where the next food poisoning or flu outbreaks may occur.
– John Boles, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Cyber Security Division, discussed the FBI’s focus on cyber investigations including cyber-based terrorism, espionage, computer intrusions and major cyber fraud. As Boles described, using social media and mobile technology is like being in a big city: You need to be aware of the “neighborhood” you are in, and who you are interacting with, to avoid danger.