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Instagram’s Search Feature Is A Vast Improvement

July 27, 2015

Instagram apparently knows more about your life than you or your friends.  The new search overhaul comes with new features that reveal more information than you ever expected to get from Instagram. VentureBeat reviews the new search feature and explains how it works: “Hands-On: Instagram’s New Search And Explore Features Are A Massive Improvement.”

Many of the features are self-explanatory, but have improved interactivity and increased the amount of eye candy.

  • Users can Explore Posts, which are random photos from all over Instagram and they can be viewed as a list or thumbnails.
  • The Discover People feature suggests possible people for users to follow. According the article, it dives deep into your personal social network and suggests people you never thought Instagram knew about.
  • Curated Collections offer content based off pre-selected categories that pull photos from users’ uploads.

Trending tags is another new feature:

“Trending Tags is Instagram’s attempt at gauging the platform’s pulse. If you’ve ever wondered what most people on Instagram are posting about, trending tags has the answer. These seemed very random and oddly insightful.”

Instagram is quickly becoming a more popular social media platform than Facebook and Twitter for some people.  Its new search feature makes it more appealing to users and increases information discovery.  Be sure that you will be spending hours on it.

Whitney Grace, July 27, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Scribd Obtains Social Reading

July 22, 2015

Access to books and other literary material has reached an unprecedented high.  People can download and read millions of books with a few simple clicks.  Handheld ebook readers are curtailing the sales of printed book, but they also are increasing sales of digital books.  One of the good things about ebooks is bibliophiles do not have to drive to a bookstore or get waitlisted on the library.  Writers also can directly sell their material to readers and potentially by pass having to pay agents and publishers.

It occurred to someone that bibliophiles would love to have instant access to a huge library of books, similar to how Netflix offers its customers an unending video library.  There is one and it is called Scribed.  Scribd is described as the Netflix of books, because for a simple $8.99 bibliophiles can read and download as many books as they wish.

The digital landscape is still being tested by book platforms and Scribd has increased its offerings.  VentureBeat reports Scribd’s newest business move in: “Scribd Buys Social Reading App Librify.” Librify is a social media reading app, offering users the opportunity to connect with friends and sharing their reading experiences.  It is advertised as a great app for book clubs.

“In a sparse press release, Scribd argues Librify’s “focus on the social reading experience” made the deal worthwhile. The news arrives at a heated time for the publishing industry, as Amazon, Oyster, and others all fight to be the definitive Netflix for books — all while hawking remarkably similar products.”

Netflix has its own rivals: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vimeo, and YouTube, but it offers something different by creating new and original shows.  Scribd might be following a similar business move, by offering an original service its rivals do not have.  Will it also offer Scribd only books?

Whitney Grace, July 22, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Facebook Strokes Brain’s Pleasure Center

July 21, 2015

Why do people like using Facebook?  It is a question that researchers have asked since Facebook premiered in 2004.  It was assumed to be a passing fad like prior social networks, including Myspace and Live Journal, but over a decade later Facebook is still going strong without a sign of stopping. decided to answer the question using an informative infographic and many research studies, check out “Why Do People Like, Share, And Comment On Facebook?”

Apparently Facebook taps the pleasure center of the brain, because when users actively share or “like” content they feel like they are directly engaging with a community.  The infographic also explains that posting status updates relieves loneliness and increases a user’s virtual empathy.  While “likes” are a quick form of communication, comments still seem to be the favorite way to interact on the social network:

“Moira Burke, who is studying 1,200 Facebook users in an ongoing experiment, has found that personal messages are more satisfying to receivers than the one-click communication of likes.”

Direct, more personal types of communication are still preferred by users.  Facebook also is appealing, because users feel like they are getting something in return as well.  They get discounts or coupons for their favorite brands, participate in contests, receive updates, and get individualized advertisements.

There are several other studies highlighting in the infographic, but the bottom line is that people are gaining a high level of personal interactivity that they can share with their friends and family.  Facebook is an integral part of the Internet, because it connects users organically and appeals to a deep, psychological need to interact with other humans.

Whitney Grace, July 21, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Facebook Opens Messenger to Non-Members

July 20, 2015

Facebook is making its Messenger app free, even to those who don’t have a Facebook account, we learn in “Does this Spell the End for WhatsApp?” at the U.K.’s Daily Star. What does that have to do with mobile messaging tool WhatsApp? Reporter Dave Snelling writes:

“This means even people without a Facebook account will be able to start using the service and that could put it in direct competition with WhatsApp. And guess who owns WhatApp…yes Facebook! The social network paid an insane $19 billion for WhatsApp late last year and it’s gone on to see a huge rise in success. WhatsApp now has over 800 million users and the figure is growing daily. Facebook Messenger brings users the same features as WhatsApp including sending photos, videos, group chats, voice and video calling and stickers.”

We notice that “search ability” is not among the features. Pity that; users must continue to employ an outside method to find a certain drop of info in their sea of messages. We’d value a search box over “stickers” any day, but perhaps that’s just us.

So far, the non-Facebook-member Messenger is only available in Canada and the U.S., but is expected to cross the Atlantic soon. Snelling wonders whether users will switch from WhatsApp to Messenger. I wonder whether Facebook plans to merge the apps, and their users; why would they hang on to both? As the article concludes, we’ll have to wait and see.

Cynthia Murrell, July 20, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Publishers Out Of Sorts…Again

July 20, 2015

Here we go again, the same old panic song that has been sung around the digital landscape since the advent of portable devices: the publishing industry is losing money. The Guardian reports on how mobile devices are now hurting news outlets: “News Outlets Face Losing Control To Apple, Facebook, And Google.”

The news outlets are losing money as users move to mobile devices to access the news via Apple, Facebook, and Google. The article shares a bunch of statistics supporting this claim, which only backs up facts people already knew.

It does make a sound suggestion of traditional news outlets changing their business model by possibly teaming with the new ways people consume their news.

Here is a good rebuttal, however:

“ ‘Fragmentation of news provision, which weakens the bargaining power of journalism organisations, has coincided with a concentration of power in platforms,’ said Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center at Columbia university, in a lead commentary for the report.”

Seventy percent of mobile device users have a news app on their phone, but only a third of them use it at least once a week. Only diehard loyalists are returning to the traditional outlets and paying a subscription fee for the services. The rest of the time they turn to social media for their news.

This is not anything new. These outlets will adapt, because despite social media’s popularity there is still something to be said for a viable and trusted news outlet, that is, if you can trust the outlet.

Whitney Grace, July 20, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Tumblr Has a GIF For You

June 30, 2015

Facebook recently enabled users to post GIF images on the social media platform.  Reddit was in an uproar over the new GIF and celebrated by posting random moving images from celebrities making weird faces to the quintessential cute kitten.  GIFs are an Internet phenomenon and are used by people to express their moods, opinions, or share their fandom.  Another popular social medium platform, Tumblr, the microblogging site used to share photos, videos, quotes, and more, has added a GIF search, says PCMag in “Tumblr Adds New GIF Search Capabilities.”

The main point of Tumblr is the ability share content either a user creates or someone else creates.  A user’s Tumblr page is a personal reflection of themselves and GIFs are one of the ultimate content pieces to share.  Tumblr’s new search option for GIFs is very simple: a user picks the + button, clicks the GIF button, and then search for the GIF that suits your mood.  A big thing on Tumblr is citing who created a piece and the new search option has that covered:

“Pick the GIF you want and it slinks right in, properly credited and everything,” the company said. “Whoever originally posted the GIF will be notified accordingly. On their dashboard, on their phone, all the regular places notifications go.”

GIFs are random bits of fun that litter the Internet and quickly achieve meme status.  They are also easy to make, which appeals to people with vey little graphic background.  They can make something creative and fun without much effort and now the can be easily found and shared on Tumblr.

Whitney Grace, June 30, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Instagram Promises Improved Search

June 15, 2015

Frustrated with the abysmal search functionality at Instagram? Rejoice, for Wired tells us that, soon, “Better Search Will Transform How You Use Instagram.” Instagram’s cofounder Mike Krieger admitted that it is currently difficult for users to discover many photos that would interest them, but also asserted the company knows it must do better. Why, then, wasn’t search a priority earlier in the company’s history, and why are they talking about this now? Writer Julia Greenberg informs us:

“All that could soon change, given that Instagram has Facebook on its team. The social media titan, which acquired Instagram in 2012, is targeting Google itself as it develops a robust search system to make both its own platform and the whole web searchable through its own app. But while Facebook users post links, status updates, news, opinions, and photos, Instagram is almost completely visual. That means Instagram needs to teach its search engine to see. Krieger said his team has worked on a project to better understand how to automate sight. ‘Computer vision and machine learning have really started to take off, but for most people the whole idea of what is a computer seeing when it’s looking at an image is relatively obscure,’ Krieger said.”

Ah, prodded by their Facebook overlords; makes sense. Instagram isn’t ready to hand the site over to algorithms entirely, though. Their human editorial team still works to help users find the best images. Apparently, they feel humans are more qualified to choose photos with the most emotional impact (go figure). Krieger sees Instagram developing into a “storytelling” destination, the place users to go connect with world events through images: “the real-time view into the world,” as Krieger puts it. We agree that implementing an effective search system should help toward that goal.

Cynthia Murrell, June 15, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

A Loon Survivor: Facebook Lands Its Satellites

June 9, 2015

I know the quest to create a walled garden stimulates would-be AOLs thinking. I read “Facebook Has Scrapped Its Secret Plan to Build a $500 Million Satellite to Provide Cheap Internet in the Developing World.” It does appear to the addled goose that a person with some math sense calculated that operating Facebook satellites would be expensive. Facebook seems to be focusing its efforts on what the article called “ridiculously large drones.”

For me, maybe Google and its Loon balloons are a better deal. There is the problem of control, of course. Balloons drift, a fact which is evident at Kentucky Derby time when errant balloons come down in places not designed to accommodate large bags charged with hot air from open flames. I would be happier if some of this effort went into better information access, relevance, an useful information delivered to users looking for data.

Yahoo and AOL never had an opportunity to do the boom boom thing. What happens if a Facebook drone collides with a Loon balloon? Could a Jeff Bezos rocket take out both a drone and a Loon balloon? Who needs international dust ups. Corporations have to defend their turf, right?

Stephen E Arnold, June 9, 2015

Social Media Listening on Facebook

June 9, 2015

The article on Virtual-Strategy Magazine titled NUVI and Datasift Join Forces to Offer Clients Access to Anonymized and Aggregated Facebook Topic Data explains the latest news from NUVI. NUVI is a growing platform for social media “listening”, allowing companies to combine and visualize the data from a variety of social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and more. NUVI is also the exclusive partner of Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary Business Wire. NUVI is now partnering with Datasift, which gives it access to collected and anonymous Facebook topic data, which includes such information as the brands being discussed and the events being held on Facebook. The article states,

“Access to this information gives marketers a deeper understanding of the topics people are engaging in on the world’s largest social platform and the ability to turn this information into actionable insights. With NUVI’s visually intuitive custom dashboards, customers will be able to see aggregate and anonymized insights such as age ranges and gender… “Our partnership with DataSift is reflective of our desire to continue to provide access to the valuable information that our customers want and need,” said CEO of NUVI.”

Tim Barker, Chief Product Officer of Datasift, also chimes in with his excitement about the partnership, while mentioning that the business value of the deal will not affect the privacy of Facebook users. At least the range of information businesses will glean from a post will not contain a specific user’s private data, just the post they probably have no clue is of value beyond the number of likes it gets.

Chelsea Kerwin, June 9, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Facebook Program May Disintermediate Google

June 5, 2015

Soon, Facebook users may not have to navigate to Google for relevant links then copy-and-paste them into posts and comments. TechCrunch reports, “Skip Googling with Facebook’s New ‘Add a Link’  Mobile Status Search Engine.” If this program currently being tested on a sample group makes it to all users, you can impress your “friends” a few seconds faster, and with fewer clicks. Actually reading what you find before you share the link is up to you. The article describes:

“Alongside buttons to add photos or locations, some iOS users are seeing a new ‘Add A Link’ option. Just punch in a query, and Facebook will show a list of matching links you might want to share, allow you to preview what’s on those sites, and let you tap one to add it to your status with a caption or share statement. Results seem to be sorted by what users are most likely to share, highlighting recently published sites that have been posted by lots of people. …

“If rolled out to all users, it would let them avoid Googling or digging through Facebook’s News Feed to find a link to share. The ‘Add A Link’ button could get users sharing more news and other publisher-made content. Not only does that fill the News Feed with posts that Facebook can put ads next to. It also gives it structured data about what kind of news and publishers you care about, as well as the interests of your friends depending on if they click or Like your story.”

Writers Josh Constine and Kyle Russell observe that, as of last year, Facebook drives nearly 25 percent of “social” clicks, and publishers are becoming dependent on those clicks. Facebook stands to benefit if their Add A Link button enhances that dependency. Then there is the boost to ad revenue the site is likely to realize by keeping users inside their Facebook sessions, instead of wandering into the rest of the Web. A move that will both please users and the bottom line– well played, Facebook.

Cynthia Murrell, June 5, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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