Monday, September 1, 2014

Evidence Grows That Online Social Networks Have Insidious Negative Effects | MIT Technology Review

Evidence Grows That Online Social Networks Have Insidious Negative Effects | MIT Technology Review

They found for example that face-to-face interactions and the trust people place in one another are strongly correlated with well-being in a positive way. In other words, if you tend to trust people and have lots of face-to-face interactions, you will probably assess your well-being more highly.

But of course interactions on online social networks are not face-to-face and this may impact the trust you have in people online. It is this loss of trust that can then affect subjective well-being rather than the online interaction itself.

Sabatini and Sarracino tease this apart statistically. “We find that online networking plays a positive role in subjective well-being through its impact on physical interactions, whereas [the use of] social network sites is associated with lower social trust,” they say. “The overall effect of networking on individual welfare is significantly negative,” they conclude.

That’s an important result because it is the first time that the role of online networks has been addressed in such a large and nationally representative sample.

Sabatini and Sarracino particularly highlight the role of discrimination and hate speech on social media which they say play a significant role in trust and well-being. Better moderation could significantly improve the well-being of the people who use social networks, they conclude.

Friday, August 29, 2014

With $30 Million More in Hand, IFTTT Looks to the Internet of Things - NYTimes.com

With $30 Million More in Hand, IFTTT Looks to the Internet of Things - NYTimes.com

It is essentially a giant switchboard to connect disparate services, anything from Facebook to text messages to telephone calls. Users can create “recipes” in which an action on one service can trigger an action on another entirely different service.

More than 100 other Internet services connect to IFTTT, including Twitter and YouTube.

even if your text messaging service, by itself, is not meant to be a sort of alert system for when your friend checks in on Foursquare, the start-up wants to make that sort of remixing possible.

A social media manager for a company, for example, could connect multiple Twitter accounts to IFTTT and set up recipes specific to each account.

Anyone can make IFTTT recipes to use and share with others — 15 million recipes are used on a daily basis — and that number has only increased as more services connect to IFTTT’s platform.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mobile Sales Lift Alibaba Profit Nearly Threefold, Ahead of I.P.O. - NYTimes.com

Mobile Sales Lift Alibaba Profit Nearly Threefold, Ahead of I.P.O. - NYTimes.com

The Chinese e-commerce behemoth disclosed on Wednesday that its profit nearly tripled in the quarter that ended June 30, to $2 billion. Its sales climbed 46 percent, to $2.5 billion.

In short, it is part eBay, part Amazon.com and part PayPal, with a hunger to invest in yet more up-and-coming industries.

Nearly a third of Alibaba’s gross merchandise volume, or the value of goods sold on Alibaba’s marketplaces, comes from mobile transactions, compared with just 12 percent a year ago. And the number of mobile monthly active users rose 15 percent compared with those in the period a year earlier, to 188 million.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

BBC News - James Foley: Extremists battle with social media

BBC News - James Foley: Extremists battle with social media: Just as Islamic State (IS) has swept across Iraq, so too has it swarmed over social media - using the platform with a sophistication never before witnessed in this way.

ISIS as Start-Up: Explosive Growth, Highly Disruptive, Super-Evil — Matter — Medium

ISIS as Start-Up: Explosive Growth, Highly Disruptive, Super-Evil — Matter — Medium

40,000 tweets were sent in a single day from the accounts of ISIS supporters. It’s built a huge, sophisticated web of connected Twitter accounts that amplify every single message.

Jihad in a social media age: how can the west win an online war? | World news | The Observer

Jihad in a social media age: how can the west win an online war? | World news | The Observer

James Foley's murder highlights how the use of film, tweets and blogs to further the aims of ISIS is now a major security issue.

Islamic State's online army – dubbed "the new disseminators" by radicalization experts.

"These are young men in their 20s who have grown up with all this stuff," he said. "They all know it's not that hard to build an app, they know how important Twitter is, they know how to upload a really nasty YouTube video, and it'll go viral quickly. It's second nature to a lot of these young men, plus the lowering price of producing reasonably good-looking propaganda and sending it around the world is a lot easier now than it was 10 years ago."

The two most popular sites used by militants, he said, were Twitter and the Latvian-based site Ask.FM, where users, often anonymously, fire questions at one another. "Periodically a foreign fighter based in Syria will appear on the site. Wannabe foreign fighters can go to them and ask questions: 'What should I pack? What's the weather like out there?'

The most influential tweeter for foreign fighters was named as Shami Witness, a social media operator whose popularity has swollen in tandem with the territorialexpansion of ISIS.

Even a cursory sweep across Twitter can expose a multilayered network of foreign fighters, friends and wannabes. "The police want to close these things down and arrest them, while the intelligence services always want to keep them up, follow their followers, understand their network. They enable security services to track a lot of people.

One downside of attempting to drive extremists from social media is that it will drive them further into the deep web. Last week's Twitter crackdown has already witnessed extremists gravitate towards Diaspora, a decentralised network with data stored on private servers which cannot be controlled by a single administrator.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Computational Linguistics of Twitter Reveals the Existence of Global Superdialects | MIT Technology Review

Computational Linguistics of Twitter Reveals the Existence of Global Superdialects | MIT Technology Review

The first study of dialects on Twitter reveals global patterns that have never been observed before.

They then searched these tweets for word variations that are indicative of specific dialects. For example, the word for car in Spanish can be auto, automóvil, carro, coche, concho, or movi, with each being more common in different dialects. Different words for bra include ajustador, ajustadores, brasiel, brassiere, corpiño, portaseno, sostén, soutien, sutién, sujetador, and tallador while variations on computer include computador, computadora, microcomputador, microcomputadora, ordenador, PC, and so on.

They then plotted where in the world these different words were being used, producing a map of their distribution. This map clearly shows how different words are commonly used in certain parts of the world.