The use and abuse of social media in elections

October 27th, 2012

The Pew Research Center reports that social media has become a feature of political and civic engagement for many in the U.S.

“Some 60% of American adults use either social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter and a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that 66% of those social media users—or 39% of all American adults—have done at least one of eight civic or political activities with social media.”

Wellesley computer science professor Panagiotis Metaxas has a short article in Science, Social Media and the Elections, on how social media can be abused in elections. An example he cites is the suspicious one-day spike of 110,000 Twitter followers received by a US presidential candidate recently and the subsequent analysis that showed showed that most of the followers were unlikely to be real people.

IEEE Spectrum has an interview with Professor Metaxas in which he discusses the issues surrounding social media and elections and mentions his recent paper, How (Not) To Predict Elections, that concludes that predicting election outcomes using the published research methods on Twitter data are not better than chance.

A novel use of social media to predict elections was show by FiveOneNine Games, who crunched the data from use of their election-themed Facebook game Campaign Story to predict that President Barack Obama the winner.

Anupam Joshi heads new UMBC Cybersecurity Center

October 19th, 2012

Congratulations to Ebiquity founding member Professor Anupam Joshi for his appointment as the Director of the new UMBC Center for Cybersecurity. The center will provide both Maryland and the nation with academic and research leadership, collaboration, innovation, and outreach in this critical discipline by streamlining UMBC's academic, research, workforce development, and technology incubation activities to advance the University's position as a leading research university in cybersecurity-related disciplines.

The center is made up of UMBC faculty and students from many disciplines, including Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Information Systems, Public Policy, Mathematics and Statistics, and Physics. It will expand upon UMBC's pre-existing Cybersersecurity efforts like the Center for Information Security and Assurance, and the Cync Program run by the Cyber Incubator@bwtech.

Progress on achieving the center’s educational goals is off to a fast start with two new major scholarship programs.

Professor Alan Sherman and Dr. Rick Forno received an NSF grant of $2.5 million over five years to fund 22 undergraduate, graduate and professional students studying Information Assurance and Cybersecurity as part of the of the Federal Cyber Scholarship for Service program.

In partnership with UMBC's Center for Women in Technology, the UMBC Center for Cybersecurity will also facilitate a new scholarship program called the UMBC Cyber Scholars Program. Set to launch this January, the scholarship program is funded by a generous $1 million grant from the Nothrop Grumman Foundation.

Learn more about the UMBC Center for Cybersecurity by visiting and following the Center on Facebook and Twitter.

Three ebiquity student posters at the 2012 GHC

October 5th, 2012

Three Ph.D. students from the ebiquity lab have posters at the ACM Student Research Competition and General Poster Session of the 2012 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. The GHC conference is the largest technical conference for women in computing and results in collaborative proposals, networking and mentoring for junior women and increased visibility for the contributions of women in computing. Conference presenters are leaders in their respective fields, representing industry, academia and government. Top researchers present their work while special sessions focus on the role of women in today’s technology fields.

The three ebiquity lab students with posters this year are:

Automation of Cloud Services lifecycle by using Semantic technologies,
Karuna Panda Joshi

We have developed a new framework for automating the configuration, negotiation and procurement of services in a cloud computing environment using semantic web technologies.We have developed detailed Ontologies for the framework. We have designed a prototype, called Smart Cloud Services, which is based on this framework and also incorporates NIST’s policies on cloud computing. This prototype is integrated with different cloud platforms like Eucalyptus and VCL.

A Knowledge-Based Approach To Intrusion Detection Modeling,
M. Lisa Mathews

Current state of the art intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) are signature-based systems that detect threats and vulnerabilities by cross-referencing the threat/vulnerability signatures in their databases. These systems are incapable of taking advantage of heterogeneous data sources for analysis of system activities for threat detection. This work presents a situation-aware intrusion detection model that integrates these heterogeneous data sources and builds a semantically rich knowledge-base to detect cyber threats/vulnerabilities.

Unsupervised Coreference Resolution for FOAF Instances,
Jennifer Alexander Sleeman

Coreference Resolution determines when two entity descriptions represent the same real world entity. Friend of a Friend (FOAF) is an ontology about people and their social networks. Currently there is not a way to easily recognize when two FOAF instances represent the same entity. Existing techniques that use supervised learning typically do not support incremental processing. I present an unsupervised approach that supports both heterogeneous data and incremental online processing.