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An officer from the North Charleston Police Department has been fired after he foolishly posted a picture in which he was wearing nothing but Confederate flag boxer shorts. Not surprisingly, the post by former Sgt. Shannon Dildine - which was online for a few days - quickly spread on the Internet, and found its way to his commanding officers.
"Your posting in this manner led you to being publicly identified as a North Charleston Police officer and associated both you and the Department with an image that symbolizes hate and oppression to a significant portion of the citizens we are sworn to serve," said Police Chief Eddie Driggers, in a termination letter to Sgt. Dildine.
Following a violent gun incident in which nine black worshippers were killed in a South Carolina church by a self-proclaimed white supremacist, the Confederate flag has become a topic of national debate. Even for those arguing the officer has the right to free speech, he clearly lacked a bit of common sense by posting the picture.
Europol has dedicated itself to the difficult task of fighting the Islamic State online, as there are around 100,000 daily tweets from up to 50,000 accounts with links to the terrorist group. Europol officially starts its operation on July 1, and wants to take down Islamic State-linked accounts within two hours following identification.
"Who is it reaching out to young people, in particular, by social media, to get them to come, in the first place? It's very difficult because of the dynamic nature of social media," said Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, in a statement to the Guardian.
Trying to fight IS online has proven difficult, with more interest from the Western world - but the United States has struggled in its efforts. There are no easy answers, and it will take cooperation from regular Twitter users, and continued vigilance from intelligence experts.
Google wants to fight back against the Islamic State's "viral moment" that has been effective in posting rather disgusting and gruesome videos and images on social media.
The Internet giant wants to allow users to be educated about the barbaric and violent actions of the Islamic State, but doesn't want to serve as a distribution method for beheading videos and other content.
"ISIS is having a viral moment on social media and the countervailing viewpoints are nowhere near strong enough to oppose them," said Victoria Grand, policy director at Google, while speaking during the Cannes Lions advertising festival. "ISIS, in particular, has been putting up footage that is inhuman and atrocious. We are still seeing about two or three of these beheadings each week. They are heeding advice from a decade before from Osama bin Laden and they are taking it to another level using social media."
Europol wants to combat the Islamic State online, trying to keep track of almost 50,000 Twitter accounts with suspected ties to the terrorist organization. The United States seems to doubt its own ability to fight IS online, and the group continues to recruit new fighters and young women into its ranks in Iraq and Syria.
If all goes according to plan, the new efforts would be able to shutdown Twitter accounts within two hours of creation - and is designed to be an "effective way of combating the problem," said Rob Wainright, director of Europol, in a statement to BBC.
However, trying to identify and track all social media accounts with suspected IS ties is not feasible. "We will have to combine what we see online, with our own intelligence and that is shared with us by European police services, so we can be a bit more targeted and identify who the key user accounts are... and concentrate on closing them down."
The small number of Instagram users in North Korea reportedly can no longer access the website, after the service has been blacklisted. The government blamed the site for sharing harmful content - and mobile users connected to Koryolink cannot upload, share or view images.
"Warning! You can't connect to this website because it's in blacklist site," reads an English prompt when a Koryolink subscriber tries to access the social networking site. Company officials reported they haven't been updated by new policy changes - and no official government statements have been released.
Users trying to access Instagram via traditional Internet connection also are blocked from accessing Instagram. North Korea heavily restricts Internet and mobile access inside of the country for its citizens, though foreign visitors can use mobile 3G connections.
Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval was recently punished by the team after he was caught browsing social media network Instagram during a game. During the seventh inning of a game against the Atlanta Braves, Sandoval claims he was in the locker room using the restroom - when he "liked" two images on Instagram.
Both the MLB and Red Sox have a rule requiring all mobile devices be turned off at least 30 minutes prior to first pitch. Instead of fining him, the Red Sox decided to bench "Panda" for one game.
Here is what Sandoval said regarding the incident, per the Boston Globe: "I know I [messed] up. I made a mistake yesterday so I learned from that. I'm a human being; I make mistakes. I apologized to my teammates and the organization."
The US State Department recently issued an internal memo that shows growing frustration in the effort to combat the Islamic State on social media. The US has tried launching "countermessaging" campaigns that have only been "trumped" by recent IS efforts, according to officials.
"The memo is an assessment not of the larger counter-ISIL messaging effort, but how the small group of coalition members communicates internally and externally, said John Kirby, State Department spokesman, while speaking to the New York Times.
There is concern that the Obama Administration is leading a failed effort to combat IS in Iraq, with the extremist group trying to solidify its so-called caliphate.
The ISIS terrorist group suffered an attack from three Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) missiles, based on social media intelligence collected by the 361st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group. It took just 22 hours following the US military identifying the online posts before an airstrike that destroyed an ISIS headquarters building.
"It was a post on social media to bombs on target in less than 24 hours," said Air Force Gen. Hawk Carlisle, head of the Air Combat Command, in a statement published by Defense Tech. "Incredible work when you think about (it)."
ISIS is rather clever in its continued use of social media, which the US and other governments have struggled to keep up with, but mistakes have been made by the extremist group. This is the latest example of social media-related issues leading to real-world destruction - and unknown casualties.
It looks like social media and adult hookup apps are one of the high-risk behaviors contributing to new cases of HIV and other STDs increasing in Rhode Island - and possibly in other states.
The department in Rhode Island noted it saw gonorrhea cases increase 30 percent, HIV cases by almost 33 percent, and syphilis cases skyrocketed by 79 percent.
"The increase has been attributed to better testing by providers and to high-risk behaviors that have become more common in recent years," said the Rhode Island Department of Health. "High-risk behaviors include using social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters, having sex without a condom, having multiple sex partners, and having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol."
The Islamic State continues vicious attacks in Iraq and Syria, taking over new territory while also suffering setbacks - and the fight continues on another front: the Internet.
The US State Department's Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) tries to monitor how IS uses the Internet for its own purposes, though has struggled to counter its evolving online strategy. Secretary of State John Kerry has hired Richard Stengel, former Time managing editor, to help create a new strategy to publish the harsh reality of citizens living under IS control.
Here is what Stengel told the Houston Chronicle: "You say the Caliphate is heaven on earth? We're going to show you pictures where sewers don't work. You're winning on the battlefield? Here's a satellite picture of you guys retreating."