Defense Department, Sparks & Honey Team Up to Fight Terrorism

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The Department of Defense is working with Sparks & Honey to examine the growth of terrorism and extremism online and gather cultural insights to help counter those initiatives.

To gather insights for the Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Sparks & Honey is implementing The Cortex strategy model, which it helped build in partnership with Annalect for Omnicom's dedicated McDonald's agency, We Are Unlimited.

The Cortex examines human behaviors and social sciences in real time and tries to understand "what drives someone to become radicalized," said Terry Young, CEO of Sparks & Honey. He added that the Omnicom shop combines its social science and cultural expertise with DARPA's "great data science minds."

While Mr. Young can't go into detail about the agency's findings since they're "highly confidential," he said the objective is to "create a mechanism to understand human behavior, monitor that behavior and translate it."

Sparks & Honey is also working with the Defense Department on other efforts around "how to prevent technological surprises for the U.S. government," which is one of the main goals of DARPA.

Mr. Young said the work tied to The Cortex will soon expand for a wide array of companies across Omnicom in both marketing and policy and government issues.

Last February, a group of ad and technology executives met with the U.S. Justice Department in Washington D.C. to come up with a plan to counter extremist propaganda from the Islamic State. The gathering was dubbed The Madison Valleywood Project and was attended by Twitter, Facebook and several major creative agencies.