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The Islamic State cleverly uses the Internet to spread propaganda and recruit new militants, and the group currently might be looking to evolve its cyber abilities. Each time a social media company, or video site boots the group, it only finds new methods to share its gruesome and reprehensible messages, according to security experts.
"They are posing a threat on multiple fronts," said Army Brig. Gen. Peter Gallagher, US Central Command director of communications, in a recent statement. "I don't want to get into what they may or may not be able to do in the world of cyber, I will tell you they are obviously a threat and we are doing everything in our power to mitigate the threat."
Even though Islamic State has been banned by several social networking websites, the group is still actively able to recruit new members in the Western world. Ideally, the group's members make contact with young women - to convince them to head to Syria - where they are often brainwashed and married to Islamic State rebels. The group also finds new fighters willing to pick up arms in Syria and Iraq, with social media used as a first point of contact.
Facebook's London office is reportedly developing a new Facebook At Work project that will vie directly with LinkedIn. With a user base of 1.3 billion Facebook can leverage their existing membership to challenge LinkedIn for work-based social networking market share. LinkedIn has experienced rapid growth and now has over 200 million users, but lacks many refined features that Facebook can easily provide. Facebook At Work will enable collaborative workflows through document sharing, and also add messaging and chat services via their Messenger service.
Facebook intends to separate work and personal profiles, and there is no word yet if Facebook will charge a premium for the service. LinkedIn derives much of its profit from enhanced membership options, but Facebook can likely offer better services by simply embedding advertisements into the feed. Facebook will also draw fire from competing Google and Microsoft services, such as Google Drive and Office 365. Many corporations are familiar with using cloud-based services for employee collaboration, and if Facebook offers a compelling solution they can potentially grab a huge chunk of market share in this space. There is no announced release date of the new service, but estimates expect release in 2015.
Twitter has opened up its servers, and its wallet to researchers over at MIT's Media Lab, in order to get some insights into tweets. The social network has provided $10 million, and every single public tweet ever posted for 'research'.
The researchers are working under the title "Laboratory of Social Machines" and has access to Twitter's "fire hose" of live public tweets, as well as every single tweet posted since the social network first opened back in 2006. With Twitter's, and the public's raw data, the MIT researchers hope to "create new platforms for both individuals and institutions to identify, discuss, and act on pressing societal problems".
The goals of the MIT group aren't exactly clear right now, but it looks like they are concentrating on the consensus of social media platforms like Twitter, where it can be incredibly hard to draw conclusions from hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions of differing opinions. The Laboratory of Social Machines explains: "Pattern discovery and data visualization will be explored to reveal interaction patterns and shared interests in relevant social systems, collaborative tools and mobile apps will be developed to enable new forms of public communication and social organization".
Twitter has given the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a $10 million grant to help study social networks and how they help users achieve goals with one another. The Laboratory for Social Machines will analyze Twitter, Reddit and other online social forums to help build tools for researchers and journalists over the next five years.
The lure of social media has evolved from regular users sharing personal thoughts into a long-term effective business tool - and MIT's access to Gnip, the Twitter-owned website that also stores older tweets, will give MIT researchers a large library of data to analyze.
"Social feedback loops based on analysis on public media and data can be an effective catalyst for increasing accountability and transparency," said Deb Roy, MIT Laboratory for Social Machines associated professor and chief media scientist at Twitter.
A Twitter account reportedly used by the Al Nusra Al Maqdisia (The Supporters of Jerusalem), a group that has pledged its loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), recently issued death threats against Twitter employees in the United States. The @dawlamoon account was quickly suspended, but not after urging "lone wolf attacks" targeting Twitter employees at the company's San Francisco headquarters.
ISIS and its affiliate groups use social media to recruit new members, spread propaganda, and antagonize rivals - but official terrorist group accounts are being purged from Twitter and other networks - which has apparently upset the Al Nusra Al Maqdisia.
It's unknown if Twitter is boosting security at its headquarters, but the federal government is aware of the tweets.
Social networking site Twitter wants its users to shop as they tweet, with "buy" buttons now being introduced on its service. Small numbers of mobile Twitter users on Google Android and Apple iOS devices will see the test button, with transactions finalized in just a few simple clicks.
Customers will be asked to provide debit or credit card and shipping information, then submit orders - and data saved on file will simply require a confirmation screen to make purchases. The test run is available to customers that allows them to purchase popular music or buy products from non-profit groups and select retailers.
"This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun," said Tarun Jain, Twitter Group Product Manager.
Since the video of U.S. journalist James Foley being executed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) surfaced on August 20, there have been more than 28,000 pro-ISIS Twitter accounts created. Twitter has purged user accounts that shows ISIS-related violent photography or videos, which led ISIS to embrace other alternatives, but there are still plenty of pro-ISIS statements on Twitter.
Following 24 hours after the second U.S. journalist, Steven Sotloff, was murdered by ISIS, 10 percent of references to the video were positive. Both videos have shocked the west, intimidated ISIS rivals, and has called for increased military action against the group, operating in Iraq and Syria.
Embracing social media has been a great strategy for ISIS, as there have been more than 60,000 pro-ISIS accounts created since May. Using Twitter and other social networks gives ISIS direct access to journalists and potential recruits, including a growing number of American, British and western European residents picking up arms in the Middle East.
Social media is a great communication method for companies to reach their customers, but has become a successful tactic by terrorist organizations trying to spread propaganda and fear.
The Islamic State was booted from Twitter, but has found success using Diaspora and other social media outlets to spread propaganda, recruit new followers, and share shocking images and statements with those curious enough to look.
"Terrorist organizations have moved their online presence to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets," said Gabriel Weimann, University of Haifa professor, in a statement to the media. "They have turned to the new media not only because counterterrorism agencies have disrupted their traditional online presence but also because the new media offers huge audiences and ease of use."
If you spend much time on Facebook, you have seen people share content from sites like The Onion and others. Many of us know that the content from The Onion and similar sites is satire, meaning it's fake. The problem for some folks is that they think the content is real. The upside for those of us that know the content is satire is that we get to point out their mistake, and make fun of them for it.
Facebook is said to be testing a new satire tag for content in your newsfeed. At first glance it sounds like that will take away all the fun of tricking people into thinking these often outlandish satire stories are true. Facebook is reportedly only marking the content with the satire tag in user's newsfeeds after they click the article to read it.
That means at first glance, someone unfamiliar might think it's real. Facebook told Mashable, "We are running a small test which shows the text "[Satire]" in front of links to satirical articles in the related articles unit in News Feed. This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units."
Twitter reported its Q2 earnings this week and quieted some of the naysayers by posting user growth for the second quarter in a row. The growth rate is helping the company get over concerns from its previous quarter that it had peaked for popularity. Twitter saw its shares surge in after hours trading to $49.62 each.
That $49.62 share price was higher than the first-day closing price for the stock of $44.90. Twitter announced that it had added 16 million new users during the quarter. Those millions of new users represent 6.3% more people around the world who logged in at least once a month.
Twitter reported revenue of $312.2 million, which is more than twice its previous revenue. Even with more than double the revenue, Twitter remains unprofitable with a $144.6 million loss for the quarter.