Upgraded Social Media Monitoring

February 20, 2017

Analytics are catching up to content. In a recent ZDNet article, Digimind partners with Ditto to add image recognition to social media monitoring, we are reminded images reign supreme on social media. Between Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram, messages are often conveyed through images as opposed to text. Capitalizing on this, and intelligence software company Digimind has announced a partnership with Ditto Labs to introduce image-recognition technology into their social media monitoring software called Digimind Social. We learned,

The Ditto integration lets brands identify the use of their logos across Twitter no matter the item or context. The detected images are then collected and processed on Digimind Social in the same way textual references, articles, or social media postings are analysed. Logos that are small, obscured, upside down, or in cluttered image montages are recognised. Object and scene recognition means that brands can position their products exactly where there customers are using them. Sentiment is measured by the amount of people in the image and counts how many of them are smiling. It even identifies objects such as bags, cars, car logos, or shoes.

It was only a matter of time before these types of features emerged in social media monitoring. For years now, images have been shown to increase engagement even on platforms that began focused more on text. Will we see more watermarked logos on images? More creative ways to visually identify brands? Both are likely and we will be watching to see what transpires.

Megan Feil, February 20, 2017


Penn State Research Team Uses Big Data to Explore Crime Rates

February 2, 2017

The article on E&T titled Social Media and Taxi Data Improve Crime Pattern Picture delves into a fascinating study that uses big data involving taxi routes and social media location labels from sites like Foursquare to discover a correlation between taxis, locations of interest, and crime. The study was executed by Penn State researchers who are looking for a more useful way to estimate crime rates rather than the traditional approach targeting demographics and geographic data only. The article explains,

The researchers say that the analysis of crime statistics that encompass population, poverty, disadvantage index and ethnic diversity can provide more accurate estimates of crime rates … the team’s approach likens taxi routes to internet hyperlinks, connecting different communities with each other… One surprising discovery is that the data suggests areas with nightclubs tend to experience lower crime rates – at least in Chicago.  The explanation may be that it reflects people’s choices to be there.

This research will be especially useful to city planners interested in how certain spaces are being used, and whether people want to go to those spaces. But the researcher Jessie Li, an assistant professor of information sciences, explained that while the correlation is clear, the underlying cause is not yet known.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 2, 2017


Twitter: Selling and Banning Its Way to Its Future

January 23, 2017

Twitter is making news again. The company sold some tools to the Google. Google, wisely Beyond Search thinks, has not yet built up the gumption to buy the whole Twitter enchilada. And Twitter continues to annoy some professionals who use Twitter data to figure out the who, what, and why of certain illegal activities.

Twitter Bans Award-Winning London, Ont., Company for Helping Police Track Protesters” explains:

A London, Ont., data mining company has been banned from Twitter and is being reviewed by Facebook for selling surveillance software to North American police services to monitor people at Black Lives Matter events and other public protests.

The company in question is Media Sonar, one of a number of firms which developed tools to make sense of messages and metadata generated by the folks who send information via Twitter “tweets”. (You can watch a video explaining some of the firm’s methods at this link.) Another example of a social media analysis outfit is Geofeedia which has been given a bloody nose by spasmodic Silicon Valley wizards.

The write up reports:

Media Sonar did not return calls to CBC News but its website states that it works to help clients analyze the sentiment of social media posts and can use location-based data to monitor threats.

Beyond Search believes that some high flying Silicon Valley companies develop systems and do not think about how these systems will be used. Then  when the high flying Silicon Valley executives realize that their whizzy new creation has some interesting applications, the Twitter-type outfits take action. The approach is fascinating to watch.

On one hand, Twitter is struggling to develop its user base and get some sizzle back. On the other hand, the company is selling off grandma’s furniture and turning off revenue from licensees of the Twitter content stream.

Interesting stuff. Chaos monkeys in real life? Seems like it.

Stephen E Arnold, January 23, 2017

The Internet Is Once Again Anonymous

January 19, 2017

Let us reminiscence for a moment (and if you like you can visit the Internet archive) about the Internet’s early days, circa late 1990s.  It was a magic time, because there were chatrooms, instant messaging, and forums.  The Internet has not changed these forms of communication much, although chatrooms are pretty dead, but one great thing about the early days is that the Internet was mostly anonymous.  With the increase in tracking software, IP awareness, and social media, Internet anonymity is reserved for the few who are vigilant and never post anything online.    Sometimes, however, you want to interact online without repercussions and TechCrunch shares that “Secret Founder Returns To Anonymous Publishing With Launch Of IO.”

David Byttow, Secret co-founder, started the anonymous publishing app IO that is similar to Postcard Confessions.  IO’s purpose is to:

IO is a pseudo-resurrection of Secret that Byttow told us in November came into being partly because “the downsides of current social media products MUST be addressed,” an imperative he felt was especially urgent following the results of the last U.S. election. IO’s stated mission is to achieve “authentic publishing,” by which Byttow means that he’s hoping users having an option to publishing either anonymously, using a pseudonym or as their actual selves will allow for easier sharing of true thoughts and feelings.

IO really does not do much.  You can type something up, hit publish, but it is only shared with other people if you attach social media links.  You can remain anonymous and IO does include writing assistance tools.  I really do not get why IO is useful, but it does allow a person to create a shareable link without joining a forum, owning a Web site, etc.  Reddit seems more practical, though.

Whitney Grace, January 19, 2016


The Government Has a Sock Puppet Theater

January 13, 2017

Law enforcement officials use fake social media accounts and online profiles to engage with criminals.  Their goal is to deter crime, possibly even catching criminals in the act for a rock solid case.  While this happened way back in 2011, the comments are still coming.  In light of the recent presidential election and the violent acts of the past year, it is no wonder the comments are still fresh.  Tech Dirt talked about how the, “US Military Kicks Off Plan To Fill Social Networks With Fake Sock Puppet Accounts.”

The goal was for a company to develop a software that would allow one person to create and manage various social media profiles (including more than one profile on the same platform).  These accounts will then, and we are speculating on this given how dummy accounts have been used in the past, to catch criminals.  The article highlights how the government would use the sock puppet accounts:

Apparently a company called Ntrepid has scored the contract and the US military is getting ready to roll out these “sock puppet” online personas. Of course, it insists that all of this is targeting foreign individuals, not anyone in the US. And they promise it’s not even going to be used on US-based social networks like Facebook or Twitter, but does anyone actually believe that’s true?

Then the comments roll in a conversation that a span of five years the commentators argue about what it means to be American, reaffirming that the US government spies on its citizens, and making fun of sock puppets.

Whitney Grace, January 13, 2017

Yahoo Takes on ISIS, in Its Way

January 9, 2017

The article on VentureBeat titled Yahoo Takes Steps to Remove Content Posted From ISIS and Other Terrorist Groups remarks on the recent changes Yahoo made to its community guidelines. The updated guidelines now specify that any content or accounts involved with terrorist organizations, even those that “celebrate” violence connected to terrorist activity are up for deletion or deactivation. The article speaks to the relevance of these new guidelines that follow hard upon the heels of Orlando and San Bernardino,

Twitter has responded as well, “suspending over 125,000 accounts” related to terrorism. Messaging app Telegram has also blocked 78 channels that engaged in ISIS-related activity. Kathleen Lefstad, Yahoo’s policy manager for trust and safety, wrote that this new category is in addition to other types of content that are flagged, including hate speech, bullying or harassment, and sharing adult or sexualized content of someone without their consent.

ISIS has grown infamous for its social media presence and ability to draw foreign supporters through social media platforms. Yahoo’s crackdown is a welcome sign of awareness that these platforms must take some responsibility for how their services are being abused. Priorities, folks. If Facebook’s machine learning content security can remove any sign of a woman’s nipple within 24 hours, shouldn’t content that endorses terrorism be deleted in half the time?

Chelsea Kerwin, January 9, 2017

Infomania, the FOMO Struggles of Millennials

January 9, 2017

The article titled Drowning In a Sea of Information on Clayton d’Arnaut’s online magazine Digital Culturist questions the effect of unlimited information on the audience that can’t seem to stop looking for more. Like bears preparing for hibernation, we seek out connections, news, memes, ideas, and opinions. Perhaps we believe that if we “know” enough, we can never die. But what does it mean if all the information we search on Google, we take in, but then almost immediately discard? Decreased attention spans, concentration, chronic distraction, creativity, these are just a few of the symptoms of our maniacal dependence on information. The article concludes,

A few months ago I took part in Infomagical, an experiment hosted by the WNYC podcast Note to Self. The purpose of this experiment is “to turn all of your information portals into overload-fighting machines.” It worked. After a full week of information consumption challenges and monitoring my progression, I felt clear, focused, organized, and more creative. I felt like someone took my brain and wrung it out like a wet sponge?—?refreshed and ready to tackle the next thing.

This sort of cleanse might be difficult, but it might be necessary to prevent us from losing our minds, literally and figuratively, if d’Arnault is to be believed. I have, on occasion, closed a tab open to Facebook only to be confronted with another tab open to Facebook. Did I close that one immediately or check the second tab? An Infomanic never consumes and tells.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 9, 2017

Austrian Ministers Wants to Look into Your Private Communications

January 2, 2017

Under the garb of curbing terrorist activities, an Austrian minister has proposed setting up of federal Trojan or an agency that can read encrypted messages over WhatsApp and Facebook.

DeepDotWeb in an article titled Austrian Government Wants a Federal Trojan to Patrol the Dark Web says:

Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka (ÖVP) is preparing to implement a “federal trojan” to patrol the dark net. With this state spying software, Austrian law enforcement authorities hope they can prevent cybercriminal activity on the dark web.

The minister is demanding that government should possess a Trojan or technology that will allow it to read what messages exchanged by people over WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. This ze feels is necessary to foil terrorist attacks in Austria.

The entire argument hinges on:

Multiple researches have proven that the Islamic State uses social media platforms and encrypted messaging for recruiting potential terrorists and for other communications. The German government is also working on a similar device by the Central Agency for Information Technology in the security area (Zitis). Currently, about 400 IT professionals are on the project.

This is the second attempt by the Interior Minister to get a Bill passed that allowed federal agencies to snoop on private citizens. The minister wants unfettered access to messages and other data of citizens; terrorists or not.

If the Bill is passed, it will have serious implications on privacy of citizens. However, what would be more interesting is to see how companies like Facebook, Google and Apple respond to it.

Vishal Ingole January 2, 2017

How the Future of Mobile Looks Like the past of TV for Advertising

December 15, 2016

The article titled How Mobile Today Is Like TV Six Decades Ago on The Atlantic explores the radical changes in advertising in the last five years. The era of advertising through newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio is effectively over, replaced by digital advertising, which is almost exclusively mobile. That mobile content is split between Facebook and Google. Those two giants account for half of all digital media advertising. The article explains what this means for news,

For newspapers, magazines, and websites, there are several paths forward. First, billionaires can rescue media organizations from the stormy seas of the mobile Internet and fund journalism that the ad market won’t support. Second, companies like Facebook may determine that it is in their own interest to preserve some news and entertainment publishers, and they will directly pay media companies, the same way cable companies pay carriage to television channels.

The article also considers a return to the subscription model, or companies shifting to event and marketing strategies for revenue. But any company that tries to ignore the seismic shifts in the news landscape is in for an abrupt and painful shock. The article preaches an optimistic approach based in the history of TV. News is here to stay, but how it is paid for and what the advertising looks like is going to change.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 15, 2016

Twitter Fingers May Be Sharing News Story Links but That Does Not Mean Anyone Read the Article

December 14, 2016

The article on ScienceDaily titled New Study Highlights Power of Crowd to Transmit News on Twitter shows that Twitter is, in fact, good at something. That something is driving recommendations of news stories. A study executed by Columbia University and the French National Institute found that the vast majority of clicks on news stories is based on reader referrals. The article details the findings:

Though far more readers viewed the links news outlets promoted directly on Twitter… most of what readers shared and read was crowd-curated. Eighty-two percent of shares, and 61 percent of clicks, of the tweets in the study sample referred to content readers found on their own. But the crowd’s relative influence varied by outlet; 85 percent of clicks on tweets tied to a BBC story came from reader recommendations while only 10 percent of tweets tied to a Fox story did.

It will come as no shock that people are getting a lot more of their news through social media, but the study also suggests that people are often sharing stories without reading them at all. Indeed, one of the scientists stated that the correlation between likes, shares, and actual reads is very low. The problem inherent in this system is that readers will inevitably only look at content that they already agree with in a news loop that results in an even less informed public with even more information at their fingertips than ever before. Thanks Twitter.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 14, 2016

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