ISIS vs Twitter: A cautionary tale told through data visualization


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Did I miss the link to the source?

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Secondly, while the suspensions raise the barrier to
joining the social network—in the sense that they
reduce the number of invitations ISIS can successfully
broadcast—they do not by any means make
joining impossible. The interior of this network is
changing as a result of the suspensions, making it a
much louder echo chamber.

Curious - is this really a cause/effect relationship, or is this more of a natural observation of social behavior? Fringe movements have always been susceptible banishment from polite society, and once so isolated many often double-down on the views that make them extremists.

Also, I can’t read this and not see parallels to


This simple-minded summary of the Institute’s complex and detailed analysis is clownish, I recommend readers look at the report itself. You’d hardly guess it would include content such as this “The data we collected also suggests that the current rate of suspensions has also limited the ISIS network’s ability to grow and spread, a consideration almost universally ignored by critics of suspension tactics.”

And since the poster didn’t remember to include the link:


Suspensions… may have unintended consequences, including cutting off ISIS supporters from beneficial social pressures on Twitter.

Okay, it made sense up to that last part.

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Sounds about as democratic as US attempts at manicuring democratic governments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Popular support is great - so long as it’s popular support which is agreeable to Western values… /s

As if people needed more reason to make new social networks which are less centralized.

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The problem with such centralization is that it is self-reinforcing. The more edges a node has, the easier it gets another edge.

Ideally, this would be some S-shaped function that would make it more difficult to get more edges once certain critical size is reached. Then the new edges would preferentially attach to other big but subcritically big nodes and the resulting network graph would have more rich connected nodes instead of a handful of vulnerable supernodes.

The billion dollar question is, of course, how to achieve this.

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ISIS is the missing link.

Only relevant to this discussion in that it involves ISIS, there’s a great long form article in The Atlantic, Highly recommend.


If you say something crazy or offensive and people respond to it with less than 100% support, it’s not as much of an echo chamber, and maybe seeds of doubt about the rightness of your cause take root.

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Whew - that is a fairly good article. So far, I’ve read about half of it now.

I think the problem people in the West have about Fundamentalist Islam is pure, willful ignorance. They don’t quite know what it is or care, yet they feel strongly enough that they should do something about. Cries for action without understanding are always a recipe for disaster.

Part of this process in the US at least is to deliberately not give any publicity to the actual controversial people. So talking heads babble about them and the public at large are treated with scrutiny if they try to learn anything about what has been decided to be an unpopular subject.

Why do Westerners, such as in the US, feel a need to have a position on ISIS? So people like to make an Islamic state in the Islamic world? Is that really surprising? Does it affect the daily lives of people in the US? When people cry about the civil rights of people there while those of people living in the US are going down the toilet, isn’t this hypocritical? Why as a Merikun would I be free to emigrate to Israel, Rome, or China as an exercise in religious freedom, but not to the Islamic territories of the Middle East or elsewhere? Why should I recognize the sovereignty of the US when it systematically refuses to recognize the sovereignty of any others to decide their own affairs? What it their stake in this, and what is their moral high ground?

Why this inspires some contempt from me is that I think it represents a typically fickle, two-faced, assimilative approach to bogus freedom. That modern consumers appearance of free choice is dependent upon authoritative approval of others. And that Westerners tend to have no strength to their convictions. They mostly claim to be religious, yet don’t actually live according to their religions. The profess to materialism, yet subject it to market metaphysics. They claim to value science, yet refuse to organize their societies along scientific reasoning. They claim to like art and culture, yet refuse to endorse its creation. They love individual freedom, yet demand the comfort of a popular consensus of what this should be.

I am not a huge fan of Fundamentalist Islamic thought myself, but I at least respect and find refreshing that some people actually believe things and live accordingly. I might not like what they have to say, but at least they aren’t all talk.

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