Social media

09 Apr 2020
The risk detection company Dataminr has created an AI system that analyses social media posts to predict the next hotspots for COVID-19 outbreaks. The company claims it successfully predicted spikes seven to 13 days before they occurred - in the UK, in London, Hertfordshire, Essex, and Kent, and in
26 Mar 2020
The consumer and market trends insight company StatSocial announced Crisis Insights, which it claims tracks rapidly changing consumer audience dynamics to help US brands and CMOs respond effectively to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic and economic slowdown. StatSocial's Silhouette social data
20 Mar 2020
To counter the many rumours, fake news, and hoaxes spreading in Myanmar, the country's Ministry of Health and Sports launched a website in collaboration with state and regional governments with videos about the virus, the latest data, and updates on the latest number of cases and lab results in
22 Mar 2020
After Asian countries used mass surveillance of smartphones to trace contacts and halt the spread of the coronavirus, Western countries such as the UK and Germany are trying to find less-invasive ways to use phones to collect and share data about infections that would work within data privacy laws
19 Mar 2020
Facebook's scientists are analysing location data about compliance with social distancing recommendations in various countries using information from a private vault of location information its apps have collected. The analysis shows that only "very modest" changes in habits in the US, France, and
17 Mar 2020
Russia has set up a coronavirus information centre to to monitor social media for misinformation about the coronavirus and spot empty supermarket shelves using a combination of surveillance cameras and AI. The centre also has a database of contacts and places of work for 95% of those under mandatory
17 Mar 2020
A task force at the Italian Ministry of Innovation, in collaboration with the University of Pavia to leverage big data technologies to deal with COVID-19, after the WHO advised governments that lockdowns alone are not enough, and that testing, isolation, and contact tracing are crucial. The effort
17 Mar 2020
A task force at the Italian Ministry of Innovation, in collaboration with the University of Pavia to leverage big data technologies to deal with COVID-19, after the WHO advised governments that lockdowns alone are not enough, and that testing, isolation, and contact tracing are crucial. The effort
26 Feb 2020
Facebook announced on its blog that it was providing researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan with aggregated and anonymised mobility data and high resolution population density maps to help inform their forecasting models for the spread
26 Feb 2020
Facebook is providing researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan "aggregated and anonymized" mobility data and high resolution population density maps to help inform their forecasting models for the spread of the virus as part of our
A 17-year-old Palestinian resident of Lebanon, Ismail B. Ajjawi, was deported shortly after he arrived at Boston Airport, where he was due to start attending Harvard University the following week. Immigration officers subjected him to hours of questioning — at one point leaving to search his phone
In February 2019, after investigative journalists used social media posts to investigate the country's hidden role in conflicts such as those in Ukraine and Syria, Russia began moving to ban its soldiers from posting any information that would expose their whereabouts or their role in the military
The US Department of Homeland Security awarded a $113 million contract to General Dynamics to carry out the Visa Lifecycle Vetting Initiative (VLVI), a renamed version of the Extreme Vetting Initiative and part of a larger effort called the National Vetting Enterprise. In May 2018, public outrage
09 Jan 2019
The US government created a database of more than 50 journalists and immigrant rights advocates, many of whom were American citizens, associated with the journey of migrants travelling from Central America to the Mexico-US border in late 2018. Officials from Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
03 Jun 2019
Bahrain has warned its citizens and residents could face legal action simply for following social media accounts it deems anti-government, which raises concerns about the ability of Bahraini citizens and residents to exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms. In May 2019, a state terrorism law
06 Feb 2018
In 2019, after five years of acquisitions and billions of dollars in investment in advertising software and real-time tracking of web users, Oracle, facing questions about the practices of Data Cloud, its advertising software division, began laying off staff. The reason may have been partly
17 Jan 2019
In January 2019 Twitter revealed that it had discovered a security flaw in that meant that Android users who updated the email address linked to their account between November 2014 and January 2019 had inadvertently turned off the "protected" setting on their accounts so that their tweets could have
04 Dec 2018
In Israel, the National Insurance Institute – in charge of granting benefits – eventually dropped a tender that had caused outrage in the country after being uncovered by Haaretz and Channel 13. The tender revealed the NII was trying to collect online data about benefits claimants – including from
08 Apr 2019
The rise of social media has also been a game changer in the tracking of benefits claimants. In the UK in 2019, a woman was jailed after she was jailed for five months after pictures of her partying in Ibiza emerged on social media. She had previously sued the NHS for £2.5 million, after surviving a
23 Nov 2009
The rise of social media has also been a game changer in the tracking of benefits claimants. Back in 2009, the case of Nathalie Blanchard a woman in Quebec who had lost her disability insurance benefits for depression because she looked “too happy” on her Facebook pictures had made the news. https:/
22 Aug 2017
In August 2017, it was reported that a researcher scraped videos of transgender Youtubers documenting their transition process without informing them or asking their permission, as part of an attempt to train artificial intelligence facial recognition software to be able to identify transgender
19 Jun 2018
In an experiment conducted by Fabio Chiusi and Claudio Agosti during the 2018 election season and set out in detail in their report for Tactical Tech, the duo sought to investigate the Facebook algorithm that powers users’ news feed and the algorithm’s treatment of political content. One of the
28 Dec 2018
In December 2018, the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) warned that data misuse and voter behavioural targeting and micro-targeting could prove factors in the 2019 Indonesian general elections. Researcher Wahyudi Djafar cited examples from Kenya, where Cambridge Analytica had sent
27 Apr 2017
In a November 2017 report, Facebook's security group outlined the steps it would take to combat new forms of misuse of the platform, including attempts to deceive people and manipulate civic discourse at low cost or risk to the organisers. Among the drivers, the group cited the global reach Facebook
17 Dec 2018
A December 2018 analysis of the use of Facebook by Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, Italy's two populist leaders, showed that the two exploited Facebook's streaming video and live broadcast services to bypass the mainstream media and foment discord during the March 2018 Italian general election
10 Oct 2015
In 2019, a prominent page on the Facebook Business site cited the British Conservative Party as a "success story" at the 2015 general election, which put the party into power with a narrow majority. The site boasted that via Facebook the Conservatives had an 80.6% reach in key constituencies, 3.5
18 Dec 2018
A December 2018 report prepared by the Oxford Internet Institute's Computational propaganda Research Project and the network analysis firm Graphika for the US Senate Intelligence Committee found that the campaign conducted by Russia's Internet Research Agency during the 2016 US presidential election
21 Nov 2018
A 2018 study found that Twitter bots played a disproportionate role in spreading the false claim, made by US President Donald Trump shortly after winning the election but losing the popular vote in November 2016, that 3 million illegal immigrants had voted for Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton
02 Nov 2018
Facebook's latest tool for inspecting political ads showed that in the run-up to the US mid-term elections in November 2018, many of the same politicians who had been questioning Facebook about privacy and leaked user data were spending campaign funds on advertisements on the service. Between 2014
28 May 2018
In 2018, an investigation found that children as young as nine in Hong Kong were exposing their identities online via Tik Tok, the most-downloaded iPhone app for creating and sharing short videos. Both Tik Tok and its sibling app Musical.ly, which is popular in Europe, Australia, and the US and
16 Oct 2018
In October 2018, researcher Johannes Eichstaedt led a project to study how the words people use on social media reflect their underlying psychological state. Working with 1,200 patients at a Philadelphia emergency department, 114 of whom had a depression diagnosis, Eichstaedt's group studied their
21 Jul 2018
In July 2018, Facebook announced it was investigating whether the Boston-based company Crimson Hexagon had violated the company's policies on surveillance. Crimson Hexagon markets itself as offering "consumer insights". Its customers include a Russian non-profit with ties to the Kremlin, and
17 Jul 2018
In 2018, the Berlin-based researcher Hang Do Thi Duc concluded after analysing more than 200 million public transactions made in 2017 that anyone can track the purchase history of a user of the peer-to-peer payment app Venmo. By accessing the data via an open API, Do Thi Duc was able to view the
13 Dec 2017
In 2017, Britain's' two biggest supermarkets, Tesco and Sainsbury's, which jointly cover 45% of the UK's grocery market, announced they would offer discounts on car and home insurance based on customers' shopping habits. For example, based on data from its Nectar card loyalty scheme, Sainsbury's
23 Jul 2018
"Buzzer teams" - teams employed to amplify messages and create a buzz on social media - were used by all candidates in the 2017 Indonesian general elections. Coordinated via WhatsApp groups, many of the teams opened fake accounts to spread both positive and negative messages, as well as hate speech
05 Aug 2018
Under a clause in the country's computer crime act that criminalises uploading content that is false or causes "panic", in 2018, Thailand's ruling military junta pursued a criminal investigation into a live feed on the Facebook page belonging to the rising Future Forward Party. The postings claimed
15 Sep 2018
In September 2018, when Massachusetts state police tweeted a map of responses to fires and explosions during a gas emergency, they inadvertently revealed that they were closely monitoring several activist groups, including a Facebook group for Mass Action Against Police Brutality, the Coalition to
11 Oct 2018
In the run-up to the 2018 US mid-term elections, researchers found that the dissemination of fake news on Facebook was increasingly a domestic American phenomenon rather than, as in the 2016 presidential election, an effort driven by state-backed Russian operatives. Removing such accounts (Twitter)
30 Apr 2018
In 2018, the Chinese Communist Party's anti-corruption watchdog in southeastern Hefei in the Anhul province claimed in a social media post that its branch in a neighbouring city had retrieved deleted messages from a suspect's WeChat account. Tencent, WeChat's operator, denied that the company stored
08 Mar 2018
In March 2018, Trever Feden, the CEO of a property management startup, exposed a flaw in the gay-dating app Grindr that opened access to the location data and other information about its more than 3 million daily users. A website Faden set up allowed Grindr users to see who was blocking them after
04 Jul 2018
In 2018, military security officers from the Israeli Defence Force accused Hamas of loading fake World Cup and dating apps with malware and making them available via the Israeli version of the Google Play store in order to hack the mobile phones of Israeli soldiers. The apps were capable of
04 Sep 2018
For many Filipinos, Facebook is their only way online because subsidies have kept it free to use on mobile phones since its launch in the country in 2013, while the open web is expensive to access. The social media network is believed to have been an important engine behind the ascent to the
14 Jun 2018
In a systematic campaign over more than five years, Myanmar military used Facebook to covertly spread propaganda, mostly against the Rohynga, via accounts that appeared to be dedicated to pop stars and entertainment, turning the social media site into a tool for ethnic cleansing. Having garnered a
14 Jun 2018
In June 2018, human rights and digital rights activists in Myanmar called on Facebook to raise its level of moderation of Burmese-language content in order to reduce hate speech, which they said was at high risk of sparking open violence. In Myanmar, decades of civil war and the end of military rule
18 Jul 2018
In July 2018, Dutch researcher Foeke Postma discovered that Polar, the manufacturer of the world's first wireless heart rate monitor manufacturer, was exposing the heart rates, routes, dates, times, duration, and pace of exercises performed by individuals at military sites and at their homes via its
07 Jul 2018
In a 2018 interview, the Stanford professor of organisational behaviour Michal Kosinski discussed his research, which included a controversial and widely debunked 2017 study claiming that his algorithms could distinguish gay and straight faces; a 2013 study of 58,000 people that explored the
17 May 2018
In May 2018, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement abandoned the development of machine learning software intended to mine Facebook, Twitter, and the open Internet to identify terrorists. The software, announced in the summer of 2017, had been a key element of president Donald Trump's "extreme
08 Oct 2018
Google announced on October 8 having discovered a vulnerability in the Google+ API which has been open since 2015. This vulnerability allowed third-party developers to access data for more than 500,000 users, including their usernames, email addresses, occupation, date of birth, profile photos, and
28 Sep 2018
30 million users had their accounts breached, with a total of 90 million accounts reset after Facebook's "view as" feature leaked unique user account access tokens, allowing attackers to not only trivially impersonate any other user on the platform, but also to potentially automate the attack on a
30 Mar 2011
In 2010, increasing adoption of social media sites such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr led Google to develop Buzz, an attempt to incorporate status updates and media-sharing into its Gmail service. Users could link their various social media feeds, including Picasa (Google's photo-sharing
01 Jul 2011
In July 2011, the established writer GrrlScientist tried to log into her Google account and found that it was suspended, barring her access to Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, Google Reader, and the newly launched social network Google+. It turned out that the reason was then when Google launched its
30 May 2001
The first example of internet users being blindsided by the retention of information they had thought was ephemeral was Usenet, a worldwide collection of discussion groups ("newsgroups") created in 1979. At the beginning, computers called each other directly to swap and distribute new postings; as
30 May 2017
In May 2017, the French data protection regular, CNIL, fined Facebook €150,000 saying the company had failed to inform users properly about how their personal data is tracked and shared with advertisers. The regulator did not, however, order the company to change its practices. The decision was one
01 Mar 2018
A data breach at the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm at the centre of Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election, reveals that one way the IRA operated was to use identities stolen from Americans. Using these accounts and other fake ones, the troll farm interacted
27 Feb 2018
Under a secret deal beginning in 2012, the data mining company Palantir provided software to a New Orleans Police Department programme that used a variety of data such as ties to gang members, criminal histories, and social media to predict the likelihood that individuals would commit acts of
In 2016, Facebook and its photo-sharing subsidiary Instagram rolled out a new reporting tool that lets users anonymously flag posts that suggest friends are threatening self-harm or suicide. The act of flagging the post triggers a message from Instagram to the user in question offering support
23 Feb 2018
A former Facebook insider explains to Wired Magazine why it's almost certain that the Trump campaign's skill using the site's internal advertising infrastructure was more important in the 2016 US presidential election than Russia's troll farm was. The first was the ads auction; the second a little
02 Jan 2018
In February 2018 the Canadian government announced a three-month pilot partnership with the artificial intelligence company Advanced Symbolics to monitor social media posts with a view to predicting rises in regional suicide risk. Advanced Symbolics will look for trends by analysing posts from 160
In 2014, the UK suicide prevention group The Samaritans launched Radar, a Twitter-based service intended to leverage the social graph to identify people showing signs of suicidal intent on social media and alert their friends to reach out to offer them help. The app was quickly taken offline after
11 Jan 2018
As of early 2018, Facebook's friends recommendations (People You May Know) are based on the address books users give them. However, Facebook has been filing patent applications for a new generation of technologies for collecting more information about its users and matching them more accurately. One
The Chinese company Tencent has issued a statement denying that it stores or analyses communications sent over WeChat, the country's most popular messaging platform after Geely Automobile chairman Li Shufu claimed there was no data privacy in China at a business forum. Shufu also claimed that
28 Nov 2017
Facebook and Twitter have advised Damian Collins, the chair of the UK Parliament's digital, culture, media, and sport committee, that the companies will hand over some information relating to the rearch of Russia-backed posts during the EU referendum. Facebook has already given the US Senate similar
Among the friends Facebook recommended to Kashmir Hill as people she might know was Rebecca Porter, to the best of her knowledge a total stranger. Because Hill was studying how the "black box" of Facebook recommendations worked, she contacted Porter to ask what the connection might be. To her
17 Oct 2017
A mistake in Facebook's machine translation service led to the arrest and questioning of a Palestinian man by Israeli police. The man, a construction worker on the West Bank, posted a picture of himself leaning against a bulldozer like those that have been used in hit-and-run terrorist attacks, with
14 Nov 2017
A 2017 Freedom House survey of 65 countries found that 30 of them were using armies of "opinion-shapers" to manipulate elections, advance anti-democratic agendas, and repress their citizens. Although most of these countries direct these efforts to manipulate opinion domestically, the report finds
11 Dec 2015
In what proved to be the first of several years of scandals over the use of personal data in illegal, anti-democratic campaigning, in 2015 the Guardian discovered that Ted Cruz's campaign for the US presidency paid at least $750,000 that year to use tens of millions of profiles of Facebook users
20 May 2015
In 2015, a newly launched image recognition function built into Yahoo's Flickr image hosting site automatically tagged images of black people with tags such as "ape" and "animal", and also tagged images of concentration camps with "sport" or "jungle gym". The company responded to user complaints by
20 May 2015
Over the course of a few seconds in April 2013, a false tweet from a hacked account owned by the Associated Press is thought to have caused the Dow-Jones Industrial Average to drop 143.5 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to lose more than $136 in value. The tweet was retweeted 4,000 times
03 May 2016
By 2020, digital ad spending on political campaigns, which was about $22 million in 2008, is projected to reach $3.3 billion. Broadcast audiences in 2016 were about a quarter the size they were in the 1980s, and they are continuing to shrink, while half of US broadcast radio stations are expected to
17 May 2016
FindFace compares photos to profile pictures on social network Vkontakte and works out identities with 70% reliability. Some have sounded the alarm about the potentially disturbing implications. Already the app has been used by a St Petersburg photographer to snap and identify people on the city’s
12 May 2016
In 2016, Danish researchers Emil Kirkegaard and Julius Daugbjerg Bjerrekær released a dataset onto the Open Science Framework that included details of almost 70,000 users of the online dating site OkCupid. The researchers created the dataset themselves by using software to scrape information from
10 Jan 2016
A new generation of technology has given local law enforcement officers in some parts of the US unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens. In Fresno, California, the police department's $600,000 Real Time Crime Center is providing a model for other such centres that have opened in New
01 Sep 2016
Automated systems such as the personality test developed by Massachusetts-based workforce management company Kronos are increasingly used by large companies to screen job applicants. To avoid falling foul of regulations prohibiting discrimination against those with mental illness, often the
30 Nov 2015
In 2015, a small number of Silicon Valley start-ups began experimenting with assessing prospective borrowers in developing countries such as Kenya by inspecting their smartphones. Doing so, they claimed, enabled them to charge less in interest than more traditional microlenders, since many of their
28 Jun 2016
In 2016, Facebook gave conflicting accounts of whether the service uses location data in order to recommend prospective Friends in its "People You May Know" feature. When the company first admitted - for publication - that location data was indeed one of the signals it used, many users felt this
11 Mar 2016
In 2016 Jonathan Evans, the former head of Britain's MI5 warned that private firms are analysing "open source" - that is, publicly posted - information to create profiles that are just as intrusive as anything Britain's intelligence agencies deploy and that the gap is closing between open
09 Apr 2017
In a 2017 study of patterns of postings on Chinese social media, three Harvard researchers disagreed with the widespread claim that the government's strategy is to post "50c party" posts that argue for the government's side in policy and political debates. Instead, the researchers estimated that the
02 Jun 2016
The discovery in 2016 of previous hacker break-ins such as the 2013 theft of 360 million old MySpace accounts and the 2012 hack of LinkedIn suggest that although websites come and go and "linkrot" means web pages have a short half-life, user data lives on for a deceptively long time. This is
08 Oct 2014
In the 2014 report "Networked Employment Discrimination", the Future of Work Project studied data-driven hiring systems, which often rely on data prospective employees have no idea may be used, such as the results of Google searches, and other stray personal data scattered online. In addition
05 Apr 2015
Because banks often decline to give loans to those whose "thin" credit histories make it hard to assess the associated risk, in 2015 some financial technology startups began looking at the possibility of instead performing such assessments by using metadata collected by mobile phones or logged from
15 Oct 2016
In 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California published a report revealing that the social media monitoring service Geofeedia had suggested it could help police track protesters. The report's publication led Twitter and Facebook to restrict Geofeedia's access to their bulk data
14 Nov 2016
At the Sixth Annual Conference on Social Media Within the Defence and Military Sector, held in London in 2016, senior military and intelligence officials made it clear that governments increasingly view social media as a tool for the Armed Forces and a "new front in warfare". Social media are also
24 Nov 2015
Documents submitted as part of a 2015 US National Labor Relations Board investigation show that Walmart, long known to be hostile to unions, spied on and retaliated against a group of employees who sought higher wages, more full-time jobs, and predictable schedules. In combating the group, who
In 2015, The Intercept obtained documents showing that the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota used a fake Facebook account to friend and monitor local Black Lives Matter activists, and collect their personal information and photographs without their knowledge. The account was discovered in a
08 May 2016
Twitter requested one of its key B2B partners, Dataminr — a service that offers advanced social media analytics and early detection of major events like terrorist attacks or natural disasters — stop providing U.S. intelligence agencies with their tools and content. Dataminr isn’t ending its