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September 19, 2014

This Week in Geek: SEALs, Twitter, texting make waves

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Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012 2:56 am

Video game developer Electronic Arts has released a new war-themed game created with the help of some of the Navy’s most elite SEAL troops.

There’s just one problem: The Navy didn’t authorize them to help.

Seven active members of SEAL Team Six, the group responsible for killing Osama bin Laden, were disciplined for working two days last summer as consultants for the new video game “Medal of Honor: Warfighter.”

Though the game doesn’t recreate the raid on the compound where bin Laden was found in May 2011, the game does depict U.S. Special Forces on combat missions.

The Navy said the members were reprimanded for giving away military secrets and for violating a nondisclosure agreement that SEALs are required to follow. A reprimand likely means the troops involved will not be able to receive any further promotions, CBS first reported.

Electronic Arts has released a long line of combat-themed video games, some of which are touted as having been built through consultation with active and retired military personnel.

Alabama tops list of racist election tweets

While a number of Americans have expressed displeasure over President Barack Obama winning a second term in office, a study published online last week says that Twitter users from Alabama posted more racially insensitive tweets about his re-election than any other state.

Geography researchers at several universities in the U.S. and Great Britain compiled the location data of comments with racist language posted to Twitter during the first week of November, then weighed the data against the number of regular tweets posted during that time.

The group published their findings last week through data research blog FloatingSheep. Their statistics put Alabama at the top of the list with the highest number of racially insensitive tweets. Mississippi, Georgia, North Dakota and Utah rounded out the top five.

It should be noted that adding location data to a tweet is an option that a very small fraction of Twitter users employ. Given that fact, study authors said “the actual number of tweets referencing these (hate-themed) keywords is likely much, much larger.”

People sending fewer text messages

A new study says text messaging is on the decline, but that doesn’t mean people are sending fewer messages.

Technology consulting firm Chetan Sharma reported last week that the number of text messages sent among U.S. mobile subscribers has been dropping since the spring of 2012, though the firm says it is too early to say whether this will be a trend.

The decline in text messaging comes as ownership of smartphones and usage of mobile data services are at an all-time high, which could indicate that users are turning more to alternative messaging services rather than standard text messaging.

For all its benefits, basic text messaging has a few limitations.

Messages are capped at 160 characters, and sending or receiving messages typically costs a per-message or subscription-based fee.

Smartphones offer users a number of free messaging options. In 2011 Apple launched iMessage, a system that allows iPhone, iPad and Mac device users to communicate with each other. Facebook offers its users a mobile messaging app, as well.

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