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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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U.S. Library of Congress will not collect every tweet on twitter

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FILE - The Twitter app is seen on a mobile phone in Philadelphia, April 26, 2017
U.S. Library of Congress will not collect every tweet on twitter. VOA

US, Dec 31, 2017: The U.S. Library of Congress says it will no longer collect every single tweet published on Twitter as it has been doing for the past 12 years.

The library said this week that it can no longer collect everything across the entire social media platform because of recent changes Twitter has made, including allowing longer tweets, photos and videos.

It said in a blog post this week that its first objective with collecting and archiving tweets was “to document the emergence of online social media for future generations.” The library says it has fulfilled that objective and no longer needs to be a “comprehensive” collector of tweets.

FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2013 file photo, the Library of Congress is seen in Washington.
FILE – In this Dec. 19, 2013 file photo, the Library of Congress is seen in Washington. VOA

The Library of Congress said it will still collect and archive tweets in the future, but will do so on a more selective basis. It said going forward “the tweets collected and archived will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy.”

The library said it generally does not collect media comprehensively, but said it made an exception for public tweets when the social media platform was first developed.

The library said it will keep its previous archive of tweets from 2006-2017 to help people understand the rise of social media and to offer insight into the public mood during that time. “Throughout its history, the Library has seized opportunities to collect snapshots of unique moments in human history and preserve them for future generations,” it said.

“The Twitter Archive may prove to be one of this generation’s most significant legacies to future generations. Future generations will learn much about this rich period in our history, the information flows, and social and political forces that help define the current generation,” it said. (VOA)