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Islamic State opponents are six times greater than its supporters on Twitter

The study showed that near the end of its reporting period (spring 2015), the number of ISIS supporters active on Twitter decreased while the number of opponents increased

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ISIS group members with their flag. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • The researchers used a variety of methods to analyse 23 million tweets posted by 771,327 users from July 2014 to April 2015
  • Like no terrorist organisation before, IS has used Twitter and other social media channels to broadcast its message, inspire followers and recruit new fighters
  • The findings present an opportunity to leverage the strength of the IS opponents to counter the IS message on Twitter

New York, August 18, 2016: On Twitter, opponents of the Islamic State (IS) are six times greater in number than ISIS supporters, but those sympathetic to the group are more active on the social media platform, a new study says.

Like no terrorist organisation before, IS has used Twitter and other social media channels to broadcast its message, inspire followers and recruit new fighters. Apart from that, it shoots the videos of the destruction of buildings or the torture they inflict upon people to create an atmosphere of terror among masses in general.

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The findings present an opportunity to leverage the strength of the IS opponents to counter the IS message on Twitter.

“Organisations such as the US military and the State Department looking to counter-message ISIS on Twitter should tailor messages and target them to specific communities,” Elizabeth Bodine-Baron, study’s lead author and an engineer at RAND Corporation, an American nonprofit research organisation, said in a statement.

The researchers used a variety of methods to analyse 23 million tweets posted by 771,327 users from July 2014 to April 2015.

The findings allowed researchers to identify more than 20,000 distinct user communities and group those into four major meta-communities that characterise the conversation about IS on Twitter.

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Those four meta-communities include: Shia, Sunni, Syrian mujahideen (opposed to the leadership of Bashar al-Assad in Syria with mixed attitudes toward ISIS) and ISIS supporters

Though fragmented, the patterns of connection between the communities opposed to ISIS suggest inroads for the influence that the US government’s social media strategy should explore in order to weaken the ISIS Twitter propaganda and online recruitment, according to researchers.

The researchers used different network analysis tools and algorithms to identify and characterise the conversation on Twitter about ISIS. For example, researchers found that they could separate supporters from opponents using a simple method: ISIS supporters typically refer to the organisation in Arabic as the “Islamic State,” whereas opponents typically use the disrespectful Arabic acronym “Daesh.”

Bashar al Assad. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Bashar al Assad. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

They say the method can continue to be used to gauge the worldwide activity of supporters and opponents of ISIS.

The study showed that near the end of its reporting period (spring 2015), the number of ISIS supporters active on Twitter decreased while the number of opponents increased.

This change coincided with Twitter’s campaign to suspend the accounts of IS supporters.

Researchers also found that ISIS atrocities such as the burning of the body of a Jordanian pilot sparked a huge upsurge in anti-IS tweets. (IANS)

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Apple to shut its last Watch-exclusive store in May

Apple's shipments in the fourth quarter of 2017 grew by more than 32 percent over the fourth quarter of 2016 to eight million

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Apple Watch Nike+ smartwatch. Flickr

Apple will shut down its last of the three Apple Watch-exclusive stores — located in Tokyo — it built when it launched the wearable in 2015.

On May 13, the last Apple Watch-exclusive store will close its doors. Twitter user Shotaro Akiba has shared a photo on the microblogging platform showing the department store’s announcement, Engadget reported on Sunday.

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Many apps pulled out of the watchOS. VOA

Apple had shut down the other two stores in London and Paris last year. According to 9to5mac website, the shop held a sale in which it was selling the remaining Apple Watch Edition inventory for as little as $700.

These 18-karat gold watches were sold for at least $10,000 and as much as $17,000 when they first became available, the report said.

Earlier this month, high-profile applications, including Instagram, Amazon, Google Maps and Twitter, pulled out their apps from the WatchOS. Driven by Apple Watch Series 3 shipments, the Cupertino-headquartered giant shipped a record 18 million Watch devices in 2017 — an increase of 54 per cent compared to the previous year.

Also Read: Apple working on gold variant of iPhone X: Report

“The Series 3 was the key growth driver, as total shipments of the latest version of Apple’s Watch were just under nine million, making up nearly half of all shipments in 2017,” Singapore-based market research firm Canalys said.

Apple’s shipments in the fourth quarter of 2017 grew by more than 32 percent over the fourth quarter of 2016 to eight million — the highest-ever number of shipments in a single quarter for any wearable vendor. IANS