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.

Daily Report: As Social Media Studies Proliferate, Experts Weigh Ethics Guidelines - NYTimes.com

Daily Report: As Social Media Studies Proliferate, Experts Weigh Ethics Guidelines - NYTimes.com

Social science researchers are exhilarated by the prospect of tapping into the vast troves of personal data collected by Facebook, Google, Amazon and a host of start-ups, Vindu Goel reports.

Professor Hancock was a co-author of the Facebook study in which the social network quietly manipulated the news feeds of nearly 700,000 people to learn how the changes affected their emotions. When the research was published in June, the outrage was immediate.

How People Consume Conspiracy Theories on Facebook | MIT Technology Review

How People Consume Conspiracy Theories on Facebook | MIT Technology Review

… in much the same way as mainstream readers consume ordinary news, say computer scientists.

In 2013, a report from the World Economic Forum suggested that online misinformation represents a significant risk to modern society. The report pointed to a number of incidents in which information had spread virally with consequences that could hardly have been imagined by its creators.

In one case, somebody impersonating the Russian Interior Minister tweeted that Syria’s President Basher al-Assad had been killed or injured. The tweet caused the price of crude oil to rise by over one dollar before traders discovered that the news was false. In another case in 2012, 30,000 people fled from the Indian city of Bangalore after receiving text messages that they would be attacked.

The Data Mining Techniques That Reveal Our Planet's Cultural Links and Boundaries | MIT Technology Review

The Data Mining Techniques That Reveal Our Planet's Cultural Links and Boundaries | MIT Technology Review

Studying cultural variation around the world has always been expensive, time-consuming work. Which is why the newfound ability to mine the data from location-based social networks is revolutionizing this science.