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Emojis Spur Ancient Language Practices

May 12, 2015

Emojis, different from their cousin emoticons, are a standard in Internet jargon and are still resisted by most who grew up in a world sans instant connection.  Mike Isaac, who writes the New York Times Bits blog, tried his best to resist the urge to use a colon and parentheses to express his mood.  Isaac’s post “The Rise Of Emoji On Instagram Is Causing Language Repercussions” discusses the rise of the emoji language.

Emojis are quickly replacing English abbreviations, such as LOL and TTYL.  People are finding it easier to select a smiley face picture over having to type text.  Isaac points to how social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat users are relying more on these pictograms for communication.   Instagram’s Thomas Dimson mentioned we are watching the rise of a new language.

People string emojis together to form complete sentences and sentiments.  Snapchat and Instagram rely on pictures as their main content, which in turn serves as communication.

“Instagram itself is a means of expression that does not require the use of words. The app’s meteoric rise has largely been attributed to the power of images, the ease that comes, for instance, in looking at a photo of a sunset rather than reading a description of one.  Other companies, like Snapchat, have also risen to fame and popularity through the expressive power of images.”

Facebook and Twitter are pushing more images and videos on their own platforms.  It is a rudimentary form of communication, but it harkens back to the days of cave paintings.  People are drawn to images, because they are easy to interpret from their basic meaning and they do not have a language barrier.  A picture of a dog is still the same in Spanish or English. The only problem from using emojis is actually understanding the meaning behind them.  A smiley face is easy to interpret, but a dolphin, baseball glove, and maple leaf might need some words for clarification.

Isaac finishes that one of the reasons he resisted emojis so much was that it made him feel childish, so he reserved them for his close friends and family.  The term “childish” is subjective, just like the meaning of emojis, so as they become more widely adopted it will become more accepted.

Whitney Grace, May 12, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Social Network Demographics by the Numbers

April 23, 2015

The amount of social networking Web sites and their purposes is as diverse as the human population.  Arguably, if you were to use each of the most popular networks and try to keep on top of every piece of information that filters through the feed, one twenty-four hour day would not be enough.

With social media becoming more ingrained in daily life, it makes one wonder who is using what network and for what purpose.  Business Insider discusses a recent BI Intelligence about social media demographics in the article: “Revealed: A Breakdown Of The Demographics For Each Of The Social Networks.”  Here are some of the facts: Facebook is still mostly female and remains the top network.  Twitter leans heavier on the male demographic, while YouTube reaches more adults in 18-34 demographic than cable TV.  Instagram is considered the most important of teenage social networks, but Snapchat has the widest appeal amongst the younger crowd.  This is the most important for professionals:

LinkedIn is actually more popular than Twitter among U.S. adults. LinkedIn’s core demographic are those aged between 30 and 49, i.e. those in the prime of their career-rising years. Not surprisingly, LinkedIn also has a pronounced skew toward well-educated users.”

Facebook still reigns supreme and pictures are popular with the younger sect, while professionals all tend to co-mingle in their LinkedIn area.  Surprising and not so revealing information, but still interesting for the data junkie.  We wonder how social media will change in the coming year?

Whitney Grace, April 23, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Twitter Plays Hard Ball or DataSift Knows the End Is in Sight

April 11, 2015

I read “Twitter Ends its Partnership with DataSift – Firehose Access Expires on August 13, 2015.” DataSift supports a number of competitive and other intelligence services with its authorized Twitter stream. The write up says:

DataSift’s customers will be able to access Twitter’s firehose of data as normal until August 13th, 2015. After that date all the customers will need to transition to other providers to receive Twitter data. This is an extremely disappointing result to us and the ecosystem of companies we have helped to build solutions around Twitter data.

I found this interesting. Plan now or lose that authorized firehose. Perhaps Twitter wants more money? On the other hand, maybe DataSift realizes that for some intelligence tasks, Facebook is where the money is. Twitter is a noise machine. Facebook, despite its flaws, is anchored in humans, but the noise is increasing. Some content processes become more tricky with each business twist and turn.

Stephen E Arnold, April 11, 2015

Twitter Search: Well, Sort Of

April 9, 2015

I read “Updating Trends on Mobile.” I am more interested in more detailed information about Twitter content, users, and tags. General purpose or massified outputs are of little utility in my little world.

I noted this passage:

We’ve been working to make content easier to find over the last several months in places like your home timeline – with recaps and Tweets from within your network – and through efforts like MagicRecs. We’ll continue to make improvements like these in the future.

If you navigate to the Twitter search page and enter a string like “enterprise search”, you will see variants of the term or phrase expressed as Twitter hash tags. The trends displayed were reflective of what Twitter’s log suggest is hot. Here’s an example:


How many of these trends do you recognize. I knew about iOS 8.3, Apple Watch, and not much else.

Queries for tweets remain a bit problematic for me.

Stephen E Arnold, April 9, 2015

Tweets Reveal Patterns of Support or Opposition for ISIL

March 31, 2015

Once again, data analysis is being put to good use. MIT Technology Review describes how “Twitter Data Mining Reveals the Origins of Support for the Islamic State.” A research team lead by one WalidMagdy at the Qatar Computing Research Institute studied tweets regarding the “Islamic State” (also known as ISIS, ISIL, or just IS) to discern any patterns that tell us which people choose to join such an organization and why.

See the article for a detailed description of the researchers’ methodology. Interesting observations involve use of the group’s name and tweet timing. Supporters tended to use the whole, official name (the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” is perhaps the most accurate translation), while most opposing tweets didn’t bother, using the abbreviation. They also found that tweets criticizing ISIS surge right after the group has done something terrible, while supporters tended to tweet after a propaganda video was released or the group achieved a major military victory. Other indicators of sentiment were identified, and an algorithm created. The article reveals:

“Magdy and co trained a machine learning algorithm to spot users of both types and said it was able to classify other users as likely to become pro- or anti-ISIS with high accuracy. ‘We train a classifier that can predict future support or opposition of ISIS with 87 percent accuracy,’ they say….

“That is interesting research that reveals the complexity of the forces at work in determining support or opposition to movements like ISIS—why people like [Egypt’s] Ahmed Al-Darawy end up dying on the battlefield. A better understanding of these forces is surely a step forward in finding solutions to the tangled web that exists in this part of the world.

“However, it is worth ending on a note of caution. The ability to classify people as potential supporters of ISIS raises the dangerous prospect of a kind of thought police, like that depicted in films like Minority Report. Clearly, much thought must be given to the way this kind of information should be used.”

Clearly. (Though the writer seems unaware that the term “thought police” originated with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the reference to Minority Report shows he or she understands the concept. But I digress.) Still, trying to understand why people turn to violence and helping to mitigate their circumstances before they get there seems worth a try. Better than bombs, in my humble opinion, and perhaps longer-lasting.

Cynthia Murrell, March 31, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Partnership Between Twitter and IBM Showing Results

March 27, 2015

The article on TechWorld titled IBM Boosts BlueMix and Watson Analytics with Twitter Integration investigates the fruits of the partnership between IBM and Twitter, which began in 2014. IBM Bluemix now has Twitter available as one the services available in the cloud based developer environment. Watson Analytics will also be integrated with Twitter for the creation of visualizations. Developers will be able to grab data from Twitter for better insights into patterns and relationships.

“The Twitter data is available as part of that service so if I wanted to, for example, understand the relationship between a hashtag on pizza, burgers or tofu, I can go into the service, enter the hashtag and specify a date range,” said Rennie. “We [IBM] go out, gather information and essentially calculate what is the sentiment against those tags, what is the split by location, by gender, by retweets, and put it into a format whereby you can immediately do visualisation.”

From the beginning of the partnership, Twitter gave IBM access to its data and the go-ahead to use Twitter with the cloud based developer tools. Watson looks like a catch all for data, and the CMO of Brandwatch Will McInnes suggests that Twitter is only the beginning. The potential of data from social media is a vast and constantly rearranging field.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 27, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Study Find Millennials Willing to Pay for News to a Point

March 26, 2015

The article titled Millennials Say Keeping Up With the News Is Important To Them—But Good Luck Getting Them To Pay For It on NiemanLab explores the findings of a recent study by the Media Insight Project in partnership with the American Press Institute. A great deal of respondents get their news from Facebook, although the majority (88%) said it was only occasionally. Twitter and Reddit also made the list. Interestingly, millennials claimed multiple access methods to news categories across the board. The article states,

“The survey asked respondents how they accessed 24 different news topics, from national politics and government to style, beauty, and fashion. Facebook was either the number one or two source of information for 20 of the 24 topics, and in nine of those topics it was the only source cited by a majority of respondents. Search was the second most popular source of information, ranking first or second in 13 of the 24 news topics.”

In spite of the title of the article, most millennials in the study were willing to pay for at least one subscription, either digital or print. The article doesn’t mention the number of people involved in the study, but deeper interviews were held with 23 millennials, which is the basis for the assumptions about broader unwillingness to pay for the news, whether out of entitlement or a belief that access to free news is a fundamental pillar of democracy.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 26, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

The Info Mayflies: The Life Span of a Tweet

February 8, 2015

I read “Why It’s Never Been Harder to Be Seen on Social Networks (and What to Do about It: Hint, Buy Ads).” Google would certainly approve of this title’s message. The Twitter Google tie up is designed to deal with recalcitrant Twitter members like my dog Tess. She has a Twitter account and a Facebook page.

I noted a factoid:

tweets have an extremely short life span; a tweet’s half-life—that is, when half of a link’s total clicks occur—is 24 minutes, according to social media analytics firm Wisemetrics. So if a consumer doesn’t interact with a brand’s message shortly after it’s posted, chances are, he probably never will. Marketers are finding similar situations on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and even the shopping-focused, advertising-supported Polyvore.

I have zero idea if this assertion is accurate. My hunch is that the time value of a tweet is even less. I, for example, do not read tweets; therefore, the tweets flowing out that I could view have a life spam of zero.

With Twitter a growth challenged and geographic-centric activity, tweets are ephemeral in my view.

One way to interpret this factoid is that a Twitter member who wants to be noticed faces an uphill climb. But Mother Google and Cousin Twitter are there to help—for a price.

Stephen E Arnold, February 8, 2015

Twitter Relies on Bing’s Translation Engine to Offer Tweet Translations

February 4, 2015

The article on Search Engine Journal titled Twitter Teams Up With Bing To Offer Translated Tweets expands on the announcement by Twitter that they will be bringing back the translation of tweets. The project was abandoned in 2013, but has returned with the assistance of Bing’s translation engine. While the service is not without flaws, the article suggests that it beats no translation ability at all.

“The company admits that the service is far from perfect and still needs to be worked on: “… the results still vary and often fall below the accuracy and fluency of translations provided by a professional translator.”

While the service no doubt leaves something to be desired, it’s still an improvement over the zero built-in options they had before. Bing’s translation engine works with more than 40 language pairs, and is currently available on, Twitter for iOS and Android, and TweetDeck.”

If you are interested in setting up the translator you need to change your account settings to “Show Tweet translations.” Once this has been established, clicking on the globe icon will show a translation of the original text. Since the company already allows for the fact that this is not a professional translator, we can only wonder how any translation service will handle the fluidity of abbreviations and slang on Twitter.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 04, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext App Enables Improved Search on Twitter

February 4, 2015

The review on KillerStartups titled Finally! An Effective Way to Filter Twitter! discusses and their algorithm for sorting through the noise on Twitter. Unlike Facebook, the article mentions, Twitter has avoided the use of filters, opting for the chaos of every tweet for itself. Beyond following specific conversations or searching via hashtag, there are not very effective methods for organizing and finding relevant tweets. offers a solution:

“ not only presents the most timely topics front and center on both their mobile-optimized site and app but also lets you search for topics that interest you, again presenting the most relevant tweets before the general jibber-jabber. It’s a great solution for anyone who wants to keep up on the conversations around current events but for whom even the thought of opening Twitter’s main feed makes them sigh with frustration.”

This would improve the hashtag search function, which is still going to present a mess of tweets.’s search algorithm promises to bring the more relevant tweets to the forefront. Additionally sweet for many Twitter-users, is not an app unique to use in the United States. It allows the user to pick between the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and Mexico. The article surmises that this list will grow as the app becomes more popular.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 04, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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