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Pew Report Compares News Sources: Twitter and Facebook

November 6, 2015

As newspapers fall, what is rising to take their place? Why, social media, of course. The Pew Research Center discusses its recent findings on the subject in, “The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook.” The number of Americans getting their news from these platforms continues to rise, across almost all demographic groups. The article informs us:

“The new study, conducted by Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, finds that clear majorities of Twitter (63%) and Facebook users (63%) now say each platform serves as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family. That share has increased substantially from 2013, when about half of users (52% of Twitter users, 47% of Facebook users) said they got news from the social platforms.”

The write-up describes some ways the platforms differ in their news delivery. For example, more users turn to Twitter for breaking news, while Facebook now features a  “Trending” sidebar, filterable by subject. The article notes that these trends can have an important impact on our society:

“As more social networking sites recognize and adapt to their role in the news environment, each will offer unique features for news users, and these features may foster shifts in news use. Those different uses around news features have implications for how Americans learn about the world and their communities, and for how they take part in the democratic process.”

Indeed. See the article for more differences between Facebook and Twitter news consumers, complete with some percentages. You can also see the data’s barebones results in the report’s final topline. Most of the data comes from a survey conducted across two weekends last March, among 2,035 Americans aged 18 and up.

Cynthia Murrell, November 6, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Searching Tweets: Just $24,000 per Year

October 21, 2015

Short honk: Love Twitter. Want to search tweets and sort of make sense of the short messages? A new service from Union Metrics is now available, according to “Union Metrics d\Debuts Search Engine That Gives You Access to Twitter’s Entire Archive.” This is a link from News360 which is available, but slowly, to me in South Africa. For you? Who knows?

Here’s the pricing, which I assume is spot on:

Although available to all Social Suite subscribers today, the service costs extra. For $500 per month, companies can access up to 30 days of data from Twitter’s archive. For $1,000 per month, Union Metrics’ Echo 365 plan grants unlimited access to up to a year’s worth of data. Finally, for $2,000 per month, the company’s Echo Full Archive plan grants full access to everything.

Twitter is looking for revenue and customer love. Will this type of tie up help?

Stephen E Arnold, October 21, 2015

The Tweet Gross Domestic Product Tool

October 16, 2015

Twitter can be used to figure out your personal income.  Twitter was not designed to be a tool to tally a person’s financial wealth, instead it is a communication tool based on a one hundred forty character messages to generate for small, concise delivery.  Twitter can be used to chat with friends, stars, business executives, etc, follow news trends, and even advertise products by sent to a tailored audience.  According to Red Orbit in the article “People Can Guess Your Income Based On Your Tweets,” Twitter has another application.

Other research done on Twitter has revealed that your age, location, political preferences, and disposition to insomnia, but your tweet history also reveals your income.  Apparently, if you tweet less, you make more money.  The controls and variables for the experiment were discussed, including that 5,191 Twitter accounts with over ten million tweets were analyzed and accounts with a user’s identifiable profession were used.

Users with a high follower and following ratio had the most income and they tended to post the least.  Posting throughout the day and cursing indicated a user with a lower income.  The content of tweets also displayed a plethora of “wealth” information:

“It isn’t just the topics of your tweets that’s giving you away either. Researchers found that “users with higher income post less emotional (positive and negative) but more neutral content, exhibiting more anger and fear, but less surprise, sadness and disgust.” It was also apparent that those who swore more frequently in their tweets had lower income.”

Twitter uses the information to tailor ads for users, if you share neutral posts get targeted ads advertising expensive items, while the cursers get less expensive ad campaigns.  The study also proves that it is important to monitor your Twitter profile, so you are posting the best side of yourself rather than shooting yourself in the foot.

Whitney Grace, October 16, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


The State Department Delves into Social Media

October 13, 2015

People and companies that want to increase a form of communication between people create social media platforms.  Facebook was invented to take advantage of the digital real-time environment to keep people in contact and form a web of contacts.  Twitter was founded for a more quick and instantaneous form of communication based on short one hundred forty character blurbs.  Instagram shares pictures and Pinterest connects ideas via pictures and related topics.  Using analytics, the social media companies and other organizations collect data on users and use that information to sell products and services as well as understanding the types of users on each platform.

Social media contains a variety of data that can benefit not only private companies, but the government agencies as well.  According to GCN, the “State Starts Development On Social Media And Analytics Platform” to collaborate and contribute in real-time to schedule and publish across many social media platforms and it will also be mobile-enabled.  The platform will also be used to track analytics on social media:

“For analytics, the system will analyze sentiment, track trending social media topics, aggregate location and demographic information, rank of top multimedia content, identify influencers on social media and produce automated and customizable reports.”

The platform will support twenty users and track thirty million mentions each year.  The purpose behind the social media and analytics platform is still vague, but the federal government has proven to be behind in understanding and development of modern technology.  This appears to be a step forward to upgrade itself, so it does not get left behind.  But a social media platform that analyzes data should have been implemented years ago at the start of this big data phenomenon.

Whitney Grace, October 13, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Share by from StoryCloud Reigns in Control of Online Content by Content Creator

October 1, 2015

The article titled Permission Based Publishing Lets Users Keep Control of Content on Beta News describes an innovative approach to allowing online content publishers a tighter grip on how their content is disbursed. StoryCloud, the permission-based publishing provider of Share By, explains the myriad potential uses for their platform, from teachers measuring a class’s understanding of the homework assignment to a musical group sharing a song with specific subscribers. The article explains how the platform functions,

“By using permission-based technology that is tightly integrated with social networking, analytics and ecommerce, Share By allows content providers to easily determine who sees their content, when, and from what location. Other permissions include duration, view or download limits and scheduling time periods for sharing and the devices that are permitted. Once content providers upload content to StoryCloud and determine permissions, they receive a unique URL which can be shared with any online audience, including Facebook and Twitter.”

Beyond the privacy and control aspects of Share By, there is also the ability to graphically analyze the content they have released online. For most individuals, this might just mean checking in on who really spent time consuming the content, but for companies it means monetization. They can charge per viewing and offer subscriptions without worrying about people getting the content without consent.

Chelsea Kerwin, October 01, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Politwoops Window Now Blackened

September 17, 2015

Why is Twitter helping politician around the world cover their tracks? The Bangkok Post reports, “Website that Saves Politicians’ Deleted Tweets Suspended.” Founded by the Open State Foundation as tool for transparency, Politwoops had made an agreement with Twitter in 2012 to use its API to post tweets that politicians (or their advisors) thought better of in retrospect. While Twitter reasons that any of their users should be able to take back tweets, the Open Foundation director asserts that public statements by public officials should remain part of the public record. The article states:

“Since being formed at a so-called hackathon five years ago, the website that is a useful tool for journalists and a frequent source of embarrassment for politicians, has spread to 30 countries from Egypt to the Vatican, as well as the European Parliament. It started operating in the US in 2012 thanks to the Sunlight Foundation, which fights for transparency in politics. Diplotwoops which screens deleted messages by diplomats and embassies around the world was set up in 2014. Twitter was not immediately available for comment, but the Open Foundation said it was told the social media giant decided to suspend access to Politwoops ‘following thoughtful internal deliberation and close consideration of a number of factors that doesn’t distinguish between users.’”

Um, except that one user is not like another. The public has a vested interest in knowing where elected officials stand, and it is tough to search when the content is no longer available. I wonder just what prompted Twitter’s “thoughtful internal deliberation.”

Cynthia Murrell, September 17, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Cricket Cognitive Analysis

September 4, 2015

While Americans scratch their heads at the sport cricket, it has a huge fanbase and not only that, there are mounds of data that can now be fully analyzed says First Post in the article, “The Intersection Of Analytics, Social Media, And Cricket In The Cognitive Era Of Computing.”

According to the article, cricket fans absorb every little bit of information about their favorite players and teams.  Technology advances have allowed the cricket players to improve their game with better equipment and ways to analyze their playing, in turn the fans have a deeper personal connection with the game as this information is released.  For the upcoming Cricket World Cup, Wisden India will provide all the data points for the game and feed them into IBM’s Analytics Engine to improve the game for spectators and the players.

Social media is a huge part of the cricket experience and the article details examples about how it platforms like Twitter are processed through sentimental analysis and IBM Text Analytics.

“What is most interesting to businesses however is that observing these campaigns help in understanding the consumer sentiment to drive sales initiatives. With right business insights in the nick of time, in line with social trends, several brands have come up with lucrative offers one can’t refuse. In earlier days, this kind of marketing required pumping in of a lot of money and waiting for several weeks before one could analyze and approve the commercial success of a business idea. With tools like IBM Analytics at hand, one can not only grab the data needed, assess it so it makes a business sense, but also anticipate the market response.”

While Cricket might be what the article concentrates on, imagine how data analytics are being applied to other popular sports such as American football, soccer, baseball, golf, and the variety of racing popular around the world.

Whitney Grace, September 4, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Data Companies Poised to Leverage Open Data

July 27, 2015

Support for open data, government datasets freely available to the public, has taken off in recent years; the federal government’s launch of in 2009 is a prominent example. Naturally, some companies have sprung up to monetize this valuable resource. The New York Times reports, “Data Mining Start-Up Enigma to Expand Commercial Business.”

The article leads with a pro bono example of Enigma’s work: a project in New Orleans that uses that city’s open data to identify households most at risk for fire, so the city can give those folks free smoke detectors. The project illustrates the potential for good lurking in sets of open data. But make no mistake, the potential for profits is big, too.  Reporter Steve Lohr explains:

“This new breed of open data companies represents the next step, pushing the applications into the commercial mainstream. Already, Enigma is working on projects with a handful of large corporations for analyzing business risks and fine-tuning supply chains — business that Enigma says generates millions of dollars in revenue.

“The four-year-old company has built up gradually, gathering and preparing thousands of government data sets to be searched, sifted and deployed in software applications. But Enigma is embarking on a sizable expansion, planning to nearly double its staff to 60 people by the end of the year. The growth will be fueled by a $28.2 million round of venture funding….

“The expansion will be mainly to pursue corporate business. Drew Conway, co-founder of DataKind, an organization that puts together volunteer teams of data scientists for humanitarian purposes, called Enigma ‘a first version of the potential commercialization of public data.’”

Other companies are getting into the game, too, leveraging open data in different ways. There’s Reonomy, which supplies research to the commercial real estate market. Seattle-based Socrata makes data-driven applications for government agencies. Information discovery company Dataminr uses open data in addition to Twitter’s stream to inform its clients’ decisions. Not surprisingly, Google is a contender with its Sidewalk Labs, which plumbs open data to improve city living through technology. Lohr insists, though, that Enigma is unique in the comprehensiveness of its data services. See the article for more on this innovative company.


Cynthia Murrell, July 27, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Quality Peer Reviews Are More Subjective Than Real Science

July 16, 2015

Peer reviewed journals are supposed to have an extra degree of authority, because a team of experts read and critiqued an academic work.  Science 2.0 points out in the article, “Peer Review Is Subjective And The Quality Is Highly Variable” that peer-reviewed journals might not be worth their weight in opinions.

Peer reviews are supposed to be objective criticisms of work, but personal beliefs and political views are working their way into the process and have been for some time.  It should not come as a surprise, when academia has been plagued by this problem for decades.  It also has also been discussed, but peer review problems are brushed under the rug.  In true academic fashion, someone is conducting a test to determine how reliable peer review comments are:

“A new paper on peer review discusses the weaknesses we all see – it is easy to hijack peer review when it is a volunteer effort that can drive out anyone who does not meet the political or cultural litmus test. Wikipedia is dominated by angry white men and climate science is dominated by different angry white men, but in both cases they were caught conspiring to block out anyone who dissented from their beliefs.  Then there is the fluctuating nature of guidelines. Some peer review is lax if you are a member, like at the National Academy of Sciences, while the most prominent open access journal is really editorial review, where they check off four boxes and it may never go to peer review or require any data, especially if it matches the aesthetic self-identification of the editor or they don’t want to be yelled at on Twitter.”

The peer review problem is getting worse in the digital landscape.  There are suggested solutions, such as banning all fees associated with academic journals and databases, homogenizing review criteria across fields, but the problems would be far from corrected.  Reviewers are paid to review works, which likely involves kickbacks of some kind.  Also trying to get different academic journals, much less different fields to standardize an issue will take a huge amount of effort and work, if they can come to any sort of agreement.

Fixing the review system will not be done quickly and anytime money is involved, the process is slowed even further.  In short, academic journals are far from being objective, which is why it pays to do your own research and take everything with a grain of salt.


Whitney Grace, July 16, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Twitter Gets a Search Facelift

June 25, 2015

Twitter has been experimenting with improving its search results and according to TechCrunch the upgrade comes via a new search results interface: “Twitter’s New Search Results Interface Expands To All Users.”  The new search results interface is the one of the largest updates Twitter has made in 2015.  It is supposed to increase the ease with a cleaner look and better filtering options.  Users will now be able to filter search results by live tweets, photos, videos, news, accounts, and more.

Twitter made the update to help people better understand how to use the message service and to take a more active approach to using it, rather than passively reading other peoples tweets.  The update is specifically targeted at new Twitter users.

The tweaked search interface will return tweets related to the search phrase or keyword, but that does not mean that the most popular tweets are returned:

“In some cases, the top search result isn’t necessarily the one with the higher metrics associated with it – but one that better matches what Twitter believes to be the searcher’s “intent.” For example, a search for “Steve Jobs” first displays a heavily-retweeted article about the movie’s trailer, but a search for “Mad Men” instead first displays a more relevant tweet ahead of the heavily-favorited “Mad Men” mention by singer Lorde.”

The new interface proves to be simpler and better list trends, related users, and news.  It does take a little while to finesse Twitter, which is a daunting task to new users.  Twitter is not the most popular social network these day and it’s using these updates to increase its appeal.

Whitney Grace, June 25, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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