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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.
Facebook is planning to begin forcing all users to download its new Messenger app if they want to continue chatting with friends. The forced migration will reportedly start in the next few days. European users of Facebook who wanted to chat had to download Messenger back in April.
Facebook is telling people that Messenger is about 20% faster for chatting than chat was using the main iOS and Android Facebook apps. After positive results in user engagement with the European test, Facebook is set to make everyone use the new app.
Users will get a few notices before chat eventually stops working on the main app and they have to use the new app. Facebook is notifying users directly about the change and once made, the messages tab will be replaced with a Messenger shortcut.
Most social media users feel jealous and inadequate, according to a report from British disability charity Scope.
The organisation surveyed 1,500 social media users and found that of these, over half of Facebook and Twitter users were left feeling like their life came up short compared to posts from peers. And although young people are the top demographic, many of those between 18 and 34 have considered quitting social media entirely, but stay online because it makes keeping in touch with friends easier. Roughly half of 18-34 year olds found that being an active user led to feelings of ugliness, being unattractive, or loneliness.
A chief event coordinator at Scope, Debbie Bines, suggested trying life without the internet for a little bit as part of the charity's Digital Detox weekend, which suggests frequent users take a 48 hour break from social networks. "Social media at its best is a great way to stay in touch with friends, as well as being the world's leading source of amusing cat pictures," Bines said. "But when things get out of balance and we start comparing ourselves to others, or feeling irritated, jealous or even ugly, it's got to be time to take a break."