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As the battle against the Islamic State (IS) rages on in Iraq and Syria, government officials hope to begin battling the extremist group where they have excelled: the Internet. Unlike the Taliban and Al Qaida before it, IS has successfully used social media outlets to spread its message, while also reaching curious observers. Twitter and other social media networks are working to remove official IS accounts, but many other accounts have popped up.
"This is the most socially-mediated conflict in history," said Shiraz Maher, from the Kings College London. "You literally have thousands of foreign fighters from all over the world using social media in order to convey the message about the jihad that they are fighting."
In addition to spreading messages of jihad, the Islamic State has successfully recruited new members - and spread propaganda - largely catching intelligence officers unaware of the Internet strategy.
Music and movie copyright groups tried to fight Internet piracy by suing individual file sharers, shutting down peer-to-peer networks, and creating new anti-piracy legislation. However, as Internet piracy continued to evolve, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), tasked with movie copyright issues of the top six Hollywood studios, wants to adjust its tactics.
"The world is changing at warp speed," noted Chris Dodd, MPAA CEO. "We are not going to legislate or litigate our way out of it. We are going to innovate our way by educating people about the hard work of people."
Although it's refreshing to hear the MPAA isn't interested in creating new legislation or potential court litigation - many Internet users are weary that any new efforts could still end poorly for the community. But hearing that copyright groups understand there are new ways to provide content in a legitimate manner proves a shifting focus towards the future.
Internet piracy is helping boost gangs, drug dealers and terrorists, according to a major media conglomerate and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Police officers in Los Angeles County say piracy is a priority and want to clamp down on Internet pirates in neighborhoods they oversee.
"[Piracy is] supporting their ability to buy drugs and guns and engage in violence," said Todd Rogers, Los Angeles County Assistant Sheriff, in a statement to the media. "And then, the support of global terrorism, which is a threat to everybody. To identify bad guys that we need to take out of the community so the rest of the folks can enjoy their neighborhood and their families."
If in doubt, saying there is a link to terrorism and street violence - whether or not accurate - is a good way to gain headlines and try to intimidate casual users away from copyright infringement. However, without offering hard evidence of this reported link, most people will just shrug it off and keep downloading and sharing files.
Twitter and social media services are struggling to address how to block images and videos of photojournalist James Foley being beheaded by Islamic State militants. In the five-minute video, titled "A Message to America," a suspected British militant said Foley's execution is in response to recent U.S. airstrikes against IS insurgents protecting a previously seized dam in Mosul. Twitter is purging users that are sharing images and videos of the barbaric execution of the photojournalist captured in Syria.
Twitter "is actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery," noted Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO, in a recent tweet.
In the UK, simply viewing, downloading or sharing the video could lead to charges under the UK's terrorism legislation.
Access to fast broadband Internet may not be dumbing younger generations down after all, with faster Web access is more conductive to learning, according to the "States with Faster Internet Access Have Smarter People" report published by High Speed Internet. The top five states with the fastest Internet service, Virginia, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington, had students with ACT scores in the top 15.
Meanwhile, the five states with the slowest Internet had average ACT scores towards the lower-end of the rankings: Alaska, Montana, Kentucky, Arkansas, and West Virginia. There were a few states that had the fastest Internet service but were in the bottom 20 average ACT scores: Michigan, North Dakota, and Utah.
A few states bucked the trend, such as Maine, which was 37th overall in Internet speed, but had the fourth best ACT average. Technology is a great asset for students, but still isn't a magic tool that will automatically make students more intelligent or learn better than students in other parts of the country - but can be utilized to make a major impact long-term.
The FBI is currently investigating the theft of 1.2 billion Internet logins and passwords compromised by Russian criminals. Credentials were taken from more than 420,000 websites and servers over a few years, with Hold Security obtaining some of the credentials earlier this month. The hacker group responsible has become better organized using sophisticated tools to compromise data, and originated from simply being a spam operation.
Not much is known about the breach, though it includes stealing data from both small and large websites in multiple countries, including the United States and Russia. It remains unknown which companies are vulnerable due to the theft, and it's unknown what the criminal gang plans to do with the stolen data.
"The FBI is investigating the recently reported incident involving the potential compromise of numerous usernames and passwords, and will provide additional information as the nature and scope of the incident becomes clearer," said Josh Campbell, FBI spokesman, in a statement to the media.
Police officers in the UK have been warned about proper social media etiquette, so they should not tweet while naked or after drinking, and should even avoid sharing updates on social media if they are eating doughnuts. Some UK police officers have been found sharing racist and homophobic comments on Twitter, along with reckless pictures in which they are posing with weapons.
If police are reckless with social media, it's likely that someone will notice - and tweets will be re-tweeted and Facebook status updates will be shared. There have been 828 cases of online-related incidents in the UK from 2009 until February 2014, according to Freedom of Information requests. Officers receive written warnings when found being inappropriate on social media, and punishments can escalate depending on a case-by-case basis.
"Social media is a key tool for us in having conversations with communities, using it not only to pass information but to receive information about crime and incidents, help people make informed choices," said Ian Hopkins, Greater Manchester Police Deputy Chief Constable, in a UK media statement. "So staff must act with integrity, with fairness, with honesty, openness, and regardless of whether they are tweeting as John Smith or Joanna Smith, if they are recognizable as a PC or a member of police staff, then they have to be taking into account the code of ethics."
Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed House Bill (HB) 345, a bill that will allow family members of the deceased to access Twitter and other social media accounts. As part of the "Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act," executors of an estate can have legal control of a social media account, in the same manner of controlling a physical asset.
It's an interesting debate because social media accounts typically disappear when a person dies, Facebook and Twitter usually prevents access to the accounts. Facebook plans to memorialize pages of deceased members rather than delete them - and Google will delete accounts or provide access to select family members.
"But if a person dies and his will is governed by Delaware law, the representative of that person's estate would have access to the decedent's Twitter account under HB 345," said Kelly Bachman, Delaware governor's office spokeswoman, in a statement. "So the main question in determining whether HB 345 applies is not where the company having the digital account (i.e. Twitter) is incorporated or even where the person holding the digital account resides."
The Islamic State (IS) has been booted off Twitter multiple times, and is finding other social media platforms to share its propaganda - while fighting in Iraq and Syria intensifies. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), the terror group is facing U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and desperately wants to keep its social media recruitment effort underway.
Backup IS accounts were removed from Twitter last week, but the group is focusing more on Diaspora, a community-run, distributed social network. The IS Diaspora accounts first began to appear about one month ago, after the group's main media account and the al-Hayat Media Center, the IS multilingual media branch heading from Twitter to Diaspora.
IS quickly being bounced from Twitter is a significant problem for the propaganda wing of the group, especially with the terrorist group enjoying the opportunity to taunt western leaders, but messages, images, and videos can still be shared to the public.
According to a new report by The Information, Google is set to unveil a new child friendly version of some of its services. Even up until now, the youngest you can be to open up a Google account in the US is 13 years old.
The new child-safe services would allow a youngster to sign up to various Google services like YouTube, with a "child-safe" version of the video sharing website being in the works. Another rumor is that Google will soon begin requiring users to disclose their age when signing up for a Google account on their Android devices, where a dashboard application for parents will be made available, allowing parents to monitor their kids' activities across Google services.
As it stands, most underage children are accessing Google's account-only services through various means, either lying about their age or using their parents' accounts. This change would allow parents to monitors their kids' activities through Google services, but Google has chimed in about the rumor to Mashable, saying: "We don't comment on rumor or speculation".