ForYOO - Form Your Own Opinion: Visualizing the FBI / Apple situation

Form your own opinions on the Apple / FBI situation:

A visualization of people’s Twitter interactions on the Apple / FBI case

One cannot ignore the issue that has come up with Apple versus the FBI on cracking the iPhone encryption for the high profile San Bernardino case. Ever since that case hit the media, we have received multiple calls, inquiries, and people both in the tech world, and the non-tech world strike conversations on this topic. We were therefore compelled to explore what people online seem to be thinking about this heated debate, and have done so by pulling data from Twitter.

In a collaborative effort, Information Science researchers at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and the University of New Haven’s Cyber Forensics Research and Education Group (UNHcFREG) constructed a visualization that updates every one-hour on the Twitter topic of the Apple / FBI case. The team is composed of:

UALR Team – Department of Information science, College of Engineering and Information Technology

UNH Team – Electrical and Computer Engineering & Computer Science, Tagliatela College of Engineering

Samer Al-khateeb, who studies deviant behaviors in the cyber world from a computational and sociological standpoint, developed the methodology and the visualization. The high-level methodology is described as follows (Skip this jargon if you are not interested in it!)

  1. We needed seed knowledge for searching twitter (in our case we searched for the hash tag #nobackdoor

  2. We checked the usage of this hashtag using Google Tags and visualized the data

  3. We analyzed the data using NodeXL to gain more insights about the users

  4. We tracked the usage of the hashtag, and update this usage on hourly basis

Before going on, we want to caution that the data that has been visualized could very much be biased due to Twitter’s APIs, but nonetheless, is interesting to explore visually.

The most interesting finding perhaps (based on the data we collected at the time of writing this blog post) is that most people are siding with Tim Cook, where he also seems to be the biggest influencer in the network so far. Other plausible inferences may be drawn, but the reason we created this visualization is for people to draw their own conclusions and for us to help individuals make sense out of this situation. So without further ado, here is a link to this visualization. Enjoy it, explore it, use it, and share it! (If you do choose to share it, please use the hashtag #NoBackDoorViz).

Shortened URL:

Full URL:

As we have been working together on hacker group identification, as well as a new project (which we cannot disclose at this point in time), we thought it would be timely to explore how people are responding to this encryption / backdoor issue that has made the headlines worldwide, as it is an issue that will touch every single person using a mobile phone one day.

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