• Terrorism & social mediaEmpowering ISIS opponents on Twitter

    A new RAND report draws on earlier RAND research on how to leverage social-media influencers and tailor messages to design a data-driven, actionable strategy to counter ISIS on Twitter. While social media is still relatively new, many of the best practices for using it are based on well-understood marketing approaches – and countering ISIS on social media should be informed by these best practices.

  • Disasters & social mediaBig data study of disaster-related social media language helps first responders

    Researchers explore how the properties of language style used in social media — particularly on Twitter — can help first responders quickly identify areas of need during a disaster. The researchers analyzed several hundred thousand tweets from social media users located in and around the areas where Hurricane Sandy, the Oklahoma tornadoes, and the Boston Marathon bombing occurred.

  • The Russian connectionFacebook targets 30,000 fake-news accounts ahead of French election

    Facebook was the subject of harsh criticism for allowing itself to be used by two Russian intelligence services – the GRU and the FSB – in their broad campaign of fake news in the summer and fall 2016, undertaken to help Donald Trump win the November election. The company has taken action to prevent Russia and other actors from engaging in a similar campaign in France, where the first round of the presidential election is to be held on Sunday, 23 April. Facebook said it has targeted 30,000 fake accounts linked to France as part of a global effort against misinformation.

  • Hate groups & social mediaHow online hate infiltrates social media and politics

    By Adam G. Klein

    In late February, the headline of a news commentary website that receives more than 2.8 million monthly visitors announced, “Jews Destroy Another One of Their Own Graveyards to Blame Trump.” With only a headline, this site can achieve something no hate group could have accomplished twenty years ago: It can connect with a massive audience. Looking at the most-visited websites of what were once diminished movements – white supremacists, xenophobic militants, and Holocaust deniers, to name a few – reveals a much-revitalized online culture. To whom, and how many, this latest conspiracy may travel is, in part, the story of “fake news,” the phenomenon in which biased propaganda is disseminated as if it were objective journalism in an attempt to corrupt public opinion. Today’s radical right is also remaking its profile, swapping swastikas and white-power rock for political blogs and news forums. The trappings may have changed, but the bigotry remains. Hate rhetoric repackaged as politics and housed in websites that look just like any other online blog can attract, or even persuade, more moderate ideologues to wade into extremist waters. This “user-friendly” hate community is joining forces in a way that could never happen in the offline world. Thanks in part to this connectedness, these poisoned narratives are now spreading well beyond racist websites.

  • Hate groupsADL to build Silicon Valley center to monitor, fight cyberhate

    The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has secured seed funding from Omidyar Network to build a state-of-the-art command center in Silicon Valley to combat the growing threat posed by hate online. The center will employ the best technology and seasoned experts to monitor, track, analyze, and mitigate hate speech and harassment across the Internet, in support of the Jewish community and other minority groups.

  • PrivacyTech coalition fights DHS proposal to collect social media passwords

    Earlier this week, the Center for Democracy & Technology announced the creation of a coalition of tech companies, NGOs, and privacy advocates to oppose efforts by DHS to collect social media passwords from individuals entering the United States. The coalition focuses on visa applicants who might be compelled to share their passwords under new DHS policies.

  • Fake newsHow science should respond to fake news

    The rise of fake news has dominated the world of politics since the last U.S. election cycle. But fake news is not at all new in the world of science. “Fake news about science has always existed,” says one expert. “What has changed now is social media and the potential to disseminate this kind of news much faster among social networks.”

  • Crisis responseHow social media is energizing crisis response

    Natural disasters, such as the recent Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean, present a huge challenge for governments, non-governmental organizations, and of course the individuals and communities affected. But studies of the effectiveness or otherwise of the responses to these disasters typically focus on official activities, producing a top-down view of what unfolded. Researchers studying the 2011 Thailand flooding disaster – the world’s fourth most severe natural disaster at that time instead looked at how individuals on the ground used social media to share information and offer support, often in areas where the official response was lacking or ineffective.

  • Hate groupsAlt-right racists to flood Twitter with “fake black people” posts

    White supremacists associated with the alt-right movement said they were planning to retaliate against Twitter by inundating it with postings from fake accounts pretending to be black people. The alt-right extremists said the retaliation is in response to Twitter’s banning several accounts belonging to individuals and groups associated with the racist and anti-Semitic movement. Alt-right figure Andrew Anglin of the neo-Nazi Web site Daily Stormer instructed his followers: “When you have time, create a fake black person account,” he wrote. “Just go on black Twitter and see what they look like, copy that model. Start filling it with rap videos and booty-shaking or whatever else these blacks post.”

  • Hate groupsTwitter suspends accounts of alt-right individuals, organizations

    Twitter has suspended the accounts of several individuals and groups linked to the alt-right. The alt-right movement embraces white supremacists, anti-Semites, and all manner of bigots in addition to conspiracy theorists and more “traditional” rabble-rousing populists and extremists. Steve Bannon, the publisher of the alt-right’s main organ, the Breitbart News Web site, was Trump campaign CEO, and is slated to become the strategic counselor to the Trump in the White House. Twitter said that company rules prohibit “violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies.” “The great purge is upon us. But Twitter could have purged the #AltRight BEFORE we memed a President into the White House. They didn’t because they never believed it was possible,” Pax Dickinson, founder of alt-right site WeSearchr; wrote. “Banning us now is too little & too late.”

  • CyberlifeTwitter goes down and believers in conspiracy theories pounce

    Twitter service in Japan and parts of the United States was down earlier today (Monday), shortly after WikiLeaks claimed that its servers had been subjected to a cyberattack. When service was restored, some users were quick to see a conspiracy, linking the outages at WikiLeaks and Twitter to the WikiLeaks release of a new set of hacked e-mails from the Democrat National Committee. “.@Twitter was down ~ 25 min. #DDOS or US Govt? #DNCLeak2 intel docs reference killings of Vince Foster & Ron Brown,” said one tweet.

  • RadicalizationThe “blind spot” in extremist Web content

    In order better to understand the process of on-line radicalization, researchers examined the average monthly number of global searches and regional search frequencies conducted in Google for 287 Arabic and English keywords relating to violent and non-violent extremism. Further analysis was then conducted within the search results for forty-seven of the relevant keywords to understand placement of extremist and counter-narrative content.

  • Hate groupsWidespread anti-Semitic harassment of journalists perceived as critical of Donald Trump: Report

    A new report released earlier today by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) details a troubling, year-long rise in anti-Semitic hate targeting journalists on Twitter, with data showing that the harassment has been driven by rhetoric in the 2016 presidential campaign. The anti-Semitic tweets have been directed at 800 journalists, both conservative and liberal, who wrote critically about Trump. The tweet writers are disproportionately likely to self-identify as Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, or part of the “alt-right,” a loosely connected group of extremists, some of whom are white supremacists. There were 19,253 anti-Semitic tweets in the first six months of 2016, and the words that appear most frequently in the bios of the 1,600 most prolific anti-Semitic Twitter attackers are “Trump,” “nationalist,” “conservative,” and “white.” “To be clear,” ADL stresses, “this does not imply that the Trump campaign supported or endorsed the anti-Semitic tweets, only that certain self-styled supporters sent these ugly messages.”

  • Jihadist bridesFormer British topless model arrested for links to ISIS

    Former British topless model, 27, arrested for communicating with ISIS recruiters and distributing violent ISIS propaganda videos on social networks. He contact was a British citizens calling himself Abu Usamah al-Britani, a known ISIS recruiter operating out of Syria. Terrorism experts say his “specialty” is trying to persuade young Western women to come to Syria to marry jihadist fighters.

  • Terrorism & social mediaJudge questions whether Facebook is doing enough to deter terrorists from using its platform

    A federal judge harshly criticized Facebook, admonishing the social media giant for not be doing enough to deter terrorists from using its platform. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, New York, also accused Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Facebook’s lawyers — who had sent a first-year associate to a hearing — of not taking seriously lawsuits which touch on important issues such as international terrorism and the murder of innocents. “I think it is outrageous, irresponsible, and insulting,” Garaufis told the attorney. The judge ordered the law firm to send a more senior lawyer to the next hearing on 28 September because he wanted to “talk to someone who talks to senior management at Facebook.”