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New Technical Report Discusses the Regional Use of Social Networking Tools

Kate Meeuf
• CERT/CC Blog
Kate Meeuf

Hello, this is Kate Meeuf of the SEI's Situational Awareness team. I'm pleased to announce the publication of the new technical report, Regional Use of Social Networking Tools, which explores regional preferences for social networking tools.

Social networking services (SNSs) have exploded in use worldwide over the past decade. While SNSs all reside on the Internet, how tools are selected and used can vary. This report explores the possibility of leveraging a user's participation with a subset of social networking tools to determine that user's country of origin.

Historically, users within a country have turned to social networking applications to interact with Internet users around the world. However, the influence of SNSs extends far beyond its users, impacting business, geo-politics, and social movements. Some of the more notable examples include Twitter and the Arab Spring, as well as Twitter and the 2014 protests in Turkey.

In evaluating the prospect of correlating users' locations with users' application of social networking tools, we surveyed the social media landscape to identify the most prevalent social networking services globally, as well as relevant native tools in specific regions and countries. Users across the world are interacting with similar subsets of tools; however, indigenous social networking tools have persisted in countries such as Russia and China.

In addition to the tool assessment, we examined other criteria related to social networking adoption: cultural factors and mobile-device use. Cultural factors offered insights into the use of social networking tools, and reporting provided evidence to suggest that mobile devices affect SNS selection and promote social networking adoption. For example, social networking is growing more in less developed countries that rely heavily on mobile devices for Internet connectivity than in developed markets.

Similarly, we observed that SNS sites were used differently by various cultures when comparing the active Twitter audiences in Saudi Arabia and the United States. Research on culture's effect on communication offers a compelling case for integrating a cultural lens, with cognitive and psychological perspectives, into the mapping of a user's origin.

While the use of social networking tools is only part of the equation when resolving a user's origin, user interaction with specific social networking tools enriches our understanding of regional behaviors and profiles online. Social networking tool use also offers another dimension to leverage as we strive to strengthen the fidelity of analysis in the realm of computer network defense and attacks.

I hope you find the information in this report valuable.

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