March 2, 2012 at 3:06 PM ET
The U.S. State Department has a new "game" out: "Tag Challenge" offers a $5,000 reward to the person (or team) that nabs five fake suspects supposedly being sought by law enforcement. The catch: You have to catch the culprits by using social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
"The winning strategy will likely involve building a network of spotters and teammates through social media," the Tag Challenge website says.
There is one suspect in each of five cities: New York, Washington, D.C., London, Stockholm and Bratislava, Slovakia. (Slovakia is where the "ringleader" of a "band of jewel thieves" supposedly lives.) The game, which kicks off March 31, gives contestants 24 hours to find the "suspects."
The winning entrant or team "must be the first to successfully locate and photograph all volunteer suspects — the nefarious and elusive 'Panther Five' — and submit verifiable photographs to the contest organizers," Tag Challenge says.
"Cops have routinely shared mugshots with one another — and with the general public — for ages. But distributing the photos globally, and hoping for an instant capture in five places at once? That’s anything but routine," noted Wired, which in 2009 held a similar digital manhunt competition.
If you enter and win Tag Challenge, prepare to shell out your social media snooping strategy to the State Department, as well as to another sponsor: the U.S. Embassy in Prague, "in association with the Institute of International Education."
As a condition of participation, the winner agrees to provide Tag Challenge with the strategies and methods used in the event," officials say on the game site.
They also say Tag Challenge was put together by graduate students from six different countries looking to see "how social media could be used to improve trans-Atlantic security." As are, of course, authorities everywhere as they deal with an explosion of both good guys — and bad — using sites such as Twitter and Facebook for information-sharing.
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