Saturday, June 18, 2016

Can Math And Social Media Protect Us From ISIS

Gizmodo: Researchers Think Math and Social Media Can Protect Us From ISIS

After spending a year going through pro-ISIS groups on social media, researchers have come up with an algorithm they think might predict attacks. If only it were that easy.

Researchers analyzed pro-ISIS posts and groups on VKontakte, the so-called Russian Facebook. They chose VKontakte partly because its members are diverse, including Chechen members that ISIS wants to recruit, and partly because (to their credit) social networks stateside shut down ISIS material pretty quickly. That’s good for our peace of mind, bad for a bunch of physicists looking for mentions of beheadings and pledges of allegiance to ISIS in multiple languages.

The result, detailed in a study published Thursday in Science, is an algorithm the researchers claim could have been used to predict the 2014 attack on the Syrian town of Kobani. That seems exciting, but since Kobani is the only one of many ISIS attacks that the algorithm has predicted, Faiza Patel at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, had this to say: “Frankly, at this point, I don’t think they’re predicting anything.”

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WNU Editor: At the moment .... social media is more of an help for radical groups like the Islamic State in recruitment and propaganda than it is for us to defeat them.

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