Carnegie Mellon University
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Regional Use of Social Networking Tools

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posted on 2014-12-01, 00:00 authored by Kate Meeuf

Social networking services (SNSs) empower users to communicate, connect, and engage with others across the Internet. These tools have exploded in use worldwide. This paper explores the regional use of these tools to determine if participation with a subset of SNSs can be applied to identify a user’s country of origin. A better understanding of regional SNS behavior provides a more comprehensive profile of country-specific users, supporting computer network defense (CND) efforts and computer network attacks (CNA) attribution. The conclusions are as follows:

  • Existing open source reporting yields an understanding of the market penetration of social networking tools for various regions and countries.
  • Preferences for social networking tools have become somewhat universal. Irrespective of location, users are gravitating towards the same tools.
  • The native social networking services of countries in Northern Asia and Eastern Europe have remained relevant. These tools can be leveraged as discriminators to resolve a user’s location.
  • Reporting provided evidence to suggest that mobile devices influence SNS selection and promote social networking adoption.
  • Cultural factors provide insights into the regional usage of social networking tools, but additional research and quantitative analysis are required to add fidelity to the employment of cultural indicators in deriving a user’s country of origin.
  • Which social networking tools are used is only part of the equation when resolving a user’s location. Other variables should be incorporated to create an informed assessment of the social media output’s geographic origin.