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Bing Clocks Search Speed

February 4, 2016

Despite attempts to improve Bing, it still remains the laughing stock of search engines.  Google has run it over with its self-driving cars multiple times.   DuckDuckGo tagged it as the “goose,” outran it, and forced Bing to sit in the proverbial pot.  Facebook even has unfriended Bing.  Microsoft has not given up on its search engine, so while there has been a list of novelty improvements (that Google already did or copied not long after their release) it has a ways to go.

Windows Central tells about the most recent Bing development: a bandwidth speed test in “Bing May Be Building A Speed Test Widget Within Search Results.”  Now that might be a game changer for a day, until Google releases its own version.  Usually to test bandwidth, you have to search for a Web site that provides the service.  Bing might do it on command within every search results page.  Not a bad idea, especially if you want to see how quickly your Internet runs, how fast it takes to process your query, or if you are troubleshooting your Internet connection.

The bandwidth test widget is not available just yet:

“A reader of the site Kabir tweeted a few images displaying widget like speed test app within Bing both on the web and their phone (in this case an iPhone). We were unable to reproduce the results on our devices when typing ‘speed test’ into Bing. However, like many new features, this could be either rolling out or simply A/B testing by Microsoft.”

Keep your fingers crossed that Microsoft releases a useful and practical widget.  If not just go to Google and search for “bandwidth test.”


Whitney Grace, February 4, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google Wants ISIS to Stay Off the Regular Web

January 29, 2016

Propaganda from the Islamic State (Isis) exists not only in the Dark Web, but is also infiltrating the familiar internet. A Wired article discusses the best case scenario to stop such information from spreading in their article Google: ISIS must be ‘contained to the Dark Web’. Google describes ISIS only existing in the Dark Web as success. This information helps explain why,

“As Isis has become more prominent in Syria and Iraq, social media, alongside traditional offline methods, have have been used to spread the group’s messages and recruit members. In 2014 analysis of the group’s online activity showed that they routinely hijack hashtags, use bots, and post gruesome videos to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The UK’s internet counter terrorism unit claims to remove 1,000 illegal pieces of terrorism related content from the internet each week — it says that roughly 800 of these are to do with Syria and Iraq. The group claims in the 12 months before June 2012 that 39,000 internet takedowns were completed.”

The director of Google Ideas is quoted as describing ISIS’ tactics ranging from communication to spamming to typical email scams; he explains they are not “tech-savy.” Unfortunately, tech chops is not a requirement for effective marketing, so the question still remains whether containing this group and their messages to the Dark Web is possible — and whether that means success with growing numbers of people using the Dark Web.


Megan Feil, January 29, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Islamic State Is Now a Convenient App

December 28, 2015

It used to be that if you wanted to be an enemy of western civilization you had to have ties to a derelict organization or even visit an enemy nation.  It was difficult, especially with the limits of communication in pre-Internet days.  Western Union and secret radio signals only went so far, but now with the Internet insurgent recruitment is just a few mouse clicks away or even an app download.  The Telegraph reports that the “Islamic State Releases Its Own Smartphone App” to spread propaganda and pollute Islam’s true message.

Islamic State (Isil) released an Android app to disseminate the terrorist group’s radical propaganda.  The app was brought to light by hacktivist Ghost Security Group, who uncovered directions to install the app on the encrypted message service Telegram.  Ghost Security says that the app publishes propaganda from Amaq News Agency, the Islamic State’s propaganda channel, such as beheadings and warnings about terrorist attacks.  It goes to show that despite limited resources, if one is tech savvy and has an Internet connection the possibilities are endless.

” ‘They want to create a broadcast capability that is more secure than just leveraging Twitter and Facebook,’ ” Michael Smith of Kronos Advisory, a company that acts as a conduit between GhostSec and the US government, told CS Monitor.

‘[Isil] has always been looking for a way to provide easy access to all of the material.’ ”

Isil might have the ability to create propaganda and an app, but they do have a limited reach.  In order to find this app, one has to dig within the Internet and find instructions.  Hacktivist organizations like Ghost Security and Anonymous are using their technology skills to combat terrorist organizations with success.  Most terrorist group propaganda will not be found within the first page of search results, one has to work to find them, but not that hard.


Whitney Grace, December 28, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Bye-Bye Paid Reviews

December 22, 2015

One has to admit that this sounds like a sweet way to make a few quick dollars: write a fake online review about a product or service highlighting good points and sellable features, post it on your social media accounts, Amazon, your blog, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and then collect a few bucks.  While Twitter might slowly be losing the social media race against Facebook and Instagram, the UK Telegraph says that the social network has another useful purpose: “Has Twitter Finally Killed The Mess Of The False Online Review?”

Fake reviews cost consumers millions of dollars each year, because they believe that first hand accounts from regular people trump a corporate advertising account.  However, it spawned a big market for people to spend a few dollars to pay someone write a fake review and give a product/service a positive spin.  The consumer is getting tired of fake reviews, as are online retailers like Amazon and the US government, which has even drafted the Consumer Review Freedom Act.

Twitter is jumping into action using big data moves like real time data sentimental analysis, location-based apps that search social media content for content, and algorithms to analyze tweets

“Chief executive Giles Palmer believes that apps such as Twizoo are only the start of how products and businesses are evaluated, especially as social media continues to evolve. ‘Until recently, social media monitoring has been a listening business where companies and brands have kept an eye on what their customers are doing, but not doing too much about it…But with mobile customers are after products and goods where they want to make an instant decision based on instant data. What’s more they want that data to be reliable and to be truthful; Twitter provides that.’”

Consumers are being more discerning about the products and services they purchase, but they also trust reviews to help them evaluate them so they will not be duped.  High praise for Twitter for proving how social media is valuable as a learning tool and also for proving it is still a worthwhile network.


Whitney Grace, December22, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Nuzzel Up to Your Content

December 3, 2015

A service called Nuzzel should aggregate content from Web sites like Dogshaming,com,, and  These Web sites are all overloaded with so much cute content that it would make your gums bleed.  Nuzzel, however, is not meant to aggregate cute content, Gigaom tells us in “Nuzzel Update Improves New Discovery For Those Who Don’t Use Twitter” what Nuzzel’s true purpose is.  Nuzzel is a content discovery service that collects and organized links from Twitter and Facebook.  It will now contain an updated feature allowing users to find stories based off their interests without connect to social networks, think Feedly, Zine, and other content feeders.

There will be other changes to Nuzzel as well.  Users will not be required to log into one social network, a better search function, and a swipe-based navigation system.  Nuzzel is also adding a newsletter  for users who do not want to download an application or a social media account.  The updates are paired with a new round of funding totaling $5.1 million from the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, Mozilla, Google, and other companies.

“Connecting with Twitter remains the best way to use Nuzzel, and still provides a great personalized news experience,” Abrams said. “But a lot of people don’t use Twitter, and Nuzzel 2.0 provides a new experience for those people, that also allows non-Twitter users to enjoy the power of social curation.” So it can still help quiet the cacophony of links shared to social networks, but now it could also appeal to people who have somehow managed to avoid the din of social media.”

Nuzzel can be programmed to send users cute content from around the Internet, but it is useful for  so much more and a great way to organize content and links.

Whitney Grace, December 3, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Vic Gundotra Restarts His Career

December 2, 2015

Google+ is a social media failure and its creator Vic Gundotra doesn’t like talking about.  No one can blame him after he created the social media equivalent of the ET Atari videogame, often dubbed the worst videogame in history.  According to Mashable in the article, “Here’s What You Do After Google+: Start Fresh,” Gundotra left Google and was gun shy to accept another job in the technology field.  He continued to get daily job offers as he spent over a year traveling and spending time with his family, but he finally decided to focus on his career again by accepting a job with AliveCor.

AliveCor is a heath startup that has received FDA approval to use mobile devices to detect heart problems.  Gundotra was interested in taking a job with a health technology startup after his father suffered from two heart attacks.

“AliveCor, while a big step removed from working on building a social network, nonetheless got him excited because of his interests in machine learning and wearable health. It also appealed to him on a more personal level.”

The health tech startup is proud to announce their new employee, but they do not include Google+ in the list of accomplishments in the press release.  Gundotra recognizes he did good work at Google, but that his vision for social network to compete with Twitter and Facebook was a washout.  He’s eager to move onto more fruitful endeavors, especially technology that will make people’s lives better.

Whitney Grace, December 2, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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


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