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Twitter Seeking Deals To Live Stream Sports Events

July 11, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc is holding negotiations with the NBA, Major League Soccer and Time Warner Inc’s cable network Turner Broadcasting to purchase digital streaming rights for content related to major sports and events, Recode reported.

This content could either be actual game footage or live interviews and analysis, the technology news website reported, citing people familiar with the talks.

Twitter shares rose 3.5 percent to $17.97 in late morning trading on Friday.

The report comes two months after the microblogging service provider struck a deal with the NFL to stream some of its Thursday Night Football games this fall. Twitter also streamed pre- and post-game content around Wimbledon this week.

Streaming the games live will give the company a new avenue to attract users and better compete with rival social network operators including Facebook Inc, which has over a billion users.

 

 

Twitter Moves Further Into Video With New ‘Watch Mode’ Feature

June 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter is looking to compete even more with Facebook. The platform is moving into video in a major way with 140-second clips in both Twitter proper and Vine, a new video section called Watch Mode, and video recommendations for other videos to watch. The network’s most popular users, like President Barack Obama and Justin Bieber, are getting a stand-alone app called Engage, which sounds a lot like Facebook Mentions.

Twitter is making video a huge priority by extending video length from 30 seconds to 140 seconds (staying on-brand, of course). Those longer videos are also coming to Vine, but don’t worry, the popular app for creating hilarious video loops isn’t changing its 6-second limit. Instead, you can post 140-second clips alongside your Vines.

You won’t have to watch these longer videos in-tweet. Now tapping on a video in your timeline will launch a new full-screen viewing mode with recommended clips surfaced just below. The same experience applies to longer videos on Vine.

The new features are rolling out soon on Twitter for iOS and Android.

Twitter Engage launched Tuesday on iOS to help video creators and other important people see metrics on their clips, including likes, retweets, mentions, and views. They can also see demographics for their videos and a feed of what their fans are talking about.

Unlike Facebook Mentions, Engage isn’t solely aimed at celebrities. But the two apps are similar in that they show mentions from so-called “influencers” and filter comments from fans.

Twitter has to try new things, especially since its user growth has stalled at 310 million monthly active users and Wall Street isn’t happy about it. To compare, Instagram just announced it has more than 500 million monthly active users, 300 million of whom check the app on a daily basis.

 

 

 

 

Twitter Acquires Machine Learning Company Magic Pony

June 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter has been quite vocal regarding its interest in machine learning in recent years, and earlier this week the company put its money where its mouth is once again by purchasing London startup Magic Pony Technology, which has focused on visual processing.

“Magic Pony’s technology — based on research by the team to create algorithms that can understand the features of imagery — will be used to enhance our strength in live [streaming] and video and opens up a whole lot of exciting creative possibilities for Twitter,” Twitter cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey wrote in a blog post announcing the news.

The startup’s team includes 11 Ph.Ds with expertise across computer vision, machine learning, high-performance computing and computational neuroscience, Dorsey said. They’ll join Twitter’s Cortex group, made up of engineers, data scientists and machine-learning researchers.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition follows several related purchases by the social media giant, including Madbits in 2014 and Whetlab last year.

 

 

 

Twitter Takes Stake in SoundCloud

June 16, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc has decided to invest nearly $70 million in Berlin-based music service SoundCloud, technology website Re/code reported citing people familiar with the deal.

Twitter confirmed the investment, but did not provide any financial details.

“Earlier this year we made an investment in SoundCloud through Twitter Ventures to help support some of our efforts with creators,” Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey said.

Soundcloud, a platform that enables people to upload and share music and other audio files, also confirmed that Twitter had made the investment.

Twitter’s investment was part of a funding round expected to be in the range of $100 million, which would value SoundCloud at about $700 million, the Re/code report said.

The microblogging site has previously attempted to make a foray into music with the launch of Twitter Music in 2013, which was closed a year later. At the time, the company said that it would look for new ways to bring music based content to the service.

 

Twitter Locks Accounts After Millions Of Passwords Reportedly Exposed

June 13, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter said it had locked down and forced a password reset of some accounts after an unconfirmed claim of a leak of nearly 33 million usernames and passwords to the social network.

The company said the information was not obtained from a hack of its servers, and speculated that the information may have been gathered from other recent breaches, malware on victim machines that are stealing passwords for all sites, or a combination of both.

“In each of the recent password disclosures, we cross-checked the data with our records. As a result, a number of Twitter accounts were identified for extra protection. Accounts with direct password exposure were locked and require a password reset by the account owner,” Twitter’s Trust & Information Security Officer, Michael Coates said in a blog post.

Millions of users have been notified by Twitter that their accounts are at risk of being taken over, reported the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.  The company did not specify to the newspaper how many users were notified and forced to change their passwords but said that the total is in the millions.

Hacked information database LeakedSource revealed on Wednesday that it had acquired a database of 32.8 million records containing Twitter usernames, emails and passwords from a user who goes by the alias Tessa88@exploit.im., but there were questions from some experts as to the authenticity of the data.

The same user provided LeakedSource with names and passwords of alleged users of MySpace.com and VK.com.

“We have very strong evidence that Twitter was not hacked, rather the consumer was,” LeakedSource said. It pointed out that the passwords were in plain text with no encryption or hashing. Twitter said it used a password hashing function called bcrypt. The credentials are “real and valid” as out of 15 users asked, all 15 verified their passwords, LeakedSource said.

 

Photos, Links To No Longer Count In Tweet’s 140 Character Limit

May 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc users will soon have more flexibility in posting tweets because the company plans to discontinue including photos and links as part of its 140-character limit, according to a Bloomberg report.

The social media platform has faced stagnant user growth. Months earlier, Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said the company would simplify its product in an effort to attract new users.

“We think there’s a lot of opportunity in our product to fix some broken windows that we know are inhibiting growth,” Dorsey said during a February earnings call.

Links currently take up to 23 characters of a tweet, limiting the amount of commentary that users can offer when sharing articles or other content.

Twitter has faced stagnant user growth, and shares have fallen more than 70 percent over the past year.

Twitter declined to comment on the report.

 

Twitter Blocks Intelligence Agencies Access To Tweet Analytics

May 10, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Twitter has prohibited a data-mining firm from providing analytics of real-time tweets to U.S. intelligence agencies, according to a Wall Street Journal report, quoting a person familiar with the matter.

Twitter, which provides Dataminr with real-time access to public tweets, seems to be trying to distance itself from appearing to aid government surveillance, a controversial issue after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the government was collecting information on users through Internet and telecommunications companies.

Executives of Dataminr told intelligence agencies recently that Twitter, which holds around 5 percent of the equity in the startup and provides the data feed, did not want the company to continue providing the service to the agencies.

Twitter’s move appears to be in line with its policy on the use of its tweet data by external companies.

“Dataminr uses public Tweets to sell breaking news alerts to companies such as Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones and government agencies such as the World Health Organization, for non-surveillance purposes,” Twitter said in a statement Sunday. “We have never authorized Dataminr or any third party to sell data to a government or intelligence agency for surveillance purposes.”

U.S. intelligence agencies gained access to Dataminr’s service after In-Q-Tel, aventure capital organization backed by U.S. intelligence agencies, put money in the firm, the WSJ said, quoting a person familiar with the matter. Twitter is said to have conveyed to Dataminr that it didn’t want to continue the relationship with intelligence agencies at the end of a pilot by the data analysis firm arranged by In-Q-Tel. Dataminr does not figure in the list of In-Q-Tel portfolio companies on its website.

 

 

Twitter Troubles Continue, Misses Revenue Estimates

April 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Twitter Inc  disappointed investors once again with first-quarter results that revealed stagnant revenue growth as the microblogging service struggles to grab new users amid efforts to improve its complicated interface with several new features.

Twitter’s user base grew modestly to 310 million monthly active users in the quarter ended March 31 from 305 million in the fourth quarter, above analysts’ expectations. But investors were let down by the revenue miss since outlining a turnaround plan.

“It’s obvious Twitter is having trouble,” said Arvind Bhatia, analyst with CRT Capital. “It’s not growing anywhere close to where people expected a while back.”

On a call with analysts, executives said advertisers, especially in Europe, held back spending ahead of major events, including the Olympics and the European Champions League. They also said users were spending more time watching and sharing video, but that advertisers’ budgets had not yet shifted from legacy advertising products such as promoted tweets.

Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said Twitter’s long-term goal was to have “millions of advertisers like our competitors.” Facebook Inc has more than 3 million advertisers.

Twitter has struggled with stagnant user growth as its complex interface makes it less attractive to new users.

As part of its turnaround plan, the company has emphasized its live offerings, including live commentary and video streaming through its Periscope app, to attract new users. But it faces fierce competition from Facebook Inc  which has recently ramped up its live video product, Facebook Live.

Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said that talent recruitment was a top priority for the year, especially on the engineering and product teams. Twitter lost several top executives earlier this year and has since added two new board members and a new chief marketing officer.

The company forecast revenue of $590 million to $610 million for the second quarter. Analysts on average were expecting $677.57 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

First-quarter revenue rose 36 percent from a year earlier to $594.5 million, but widely missed the average analyst estimate of $607.8 million.

 

 

Facebook Gives Its Live Streaming Service A Boost

April 14, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is increasing its focus on video with a new tool that will help hardware makers build devices to stream live to the social networking service.

The new Facebook Live API will let publishers and hardware makers build tools that connect with the social network’s live video streaming feature. That means broadcasters will be able to stream video from hardware that integrates with the service like DJI drones and the new Mevo camera, along with broadcast software like Livestream, ffmpeg and Xsplit.

It’s a move to help video producers bring live video to Facebook without having to do something extreme like strap an iPhone to a camera rig, which is what they currently have to do. With the new tool, Facebook also makes it easier for developers and broadcasters to bring higher quality video to Live, too.

Users will also have the ability to share a live broadcast with members of a group, or people who are registered for an event, in addition to broadcasting to their friends or to the world at large. People watching a live broadcast can add live emoji reactions, similar to adding reactions to a news feed.

The functionality is a push by Facebook to compete with other live streaming services like Periscope, which is owned by rival social network Twitter. With the rise of pervasive, high-speed mobile connectivity, live streaming is becoming more prevalent. Facebook is likely feeling the pressure from its competition, but it’s in a strong position, according to Forrester analyst Nick Barber.

“Paired with its active users and algorithm, Facebook stands to create a new revenue stream with live events,” he said in an email. “It makes Facebook a one-stop shop for users who want to consume news, live events and connect with family and friends.”

Improving live streaming may make the platform more appealing to people who know they want to stream their event to the Web somehow, but haven’t yet decided how to do it. If Facebook can become the de facto home for live broadcasts from celebrities and big brands, that could put the company in a lucrative position.

“Recorded video is very engaging on social channels, and live creates even more opportunities for brands and individuals,” Barber said.

 

 

 

NFL, Twitter Partner Up To Live Stream Games

April 7, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The National Football League has selected Twitter as its exclusive global partner for streaming its Thursday night games during the 2016 regular season, both parties announced, a deal that could help the social media site expand its user base.

CBS Corp and Comcast Corp unit NBC, which won the broadcast rights in February, could also gain more viewers via Twitter, TV executives said.

Twitter Inc spokesman Brian Poliakoff declined to disclose the financial terms, or elaborate on how the games would be streamed. But technology news website Re/code, citing people familiar with the bidding process, reported that Twitter paid less than $10 million for the streaming rights.

The deal comes as sports fans are increasingly relying on the Internet to watch video at the expense of traditional cable and satellite connections. Livestreaming the games would give Twitter a new avenue to attract users as it tries to catch up with rival social networks like Facebook Inc, which has over a billion users.

The NFL partnership helps cement Twitter’s position as a destination for live video, said Tom Richardson, president of consulting firm Convergence Sports & Media.

“I don’t think it’s going to cannibalize viewership at all,” CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said. “I don’t see people turning off their televisions and watching the game on Twitter.”

“The fact that our national commercials are running on the Twitter feed is a big benefit,” he said.

An NBC spokesman declined to comment.

Twitter will livestream 10 games for free to the more than 800 million people who use its service, as well as non-registered users.

 

Tesla Model 3 Orders Hit $10 billion In First 36 hours

April 5, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Tesla Motors Inc  announced that orders for its new Model 3 electric sedan topped 253,000 in the first 36 hours — a fast start for the company’s first mass-market vehicle, which may not begin to reach customers for another 18 months or more.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted that the Model 3, which is slated to go into production in late 2017, will sell at an average price of $42,000, including the price of options and additional features, which would give the initial flurry of orders an estimated retail value of $10.6 billion.

That intense interest, fanned in part by a steady stream of tweets by Musk, could help boost Tesla’s stock price, which closed Friday at $237.59, up 3.4 percent. The stock has soared more than 60 percent since hitting a 12-month low in February.

The car’s average selling price projected by Musk is well above the $35,000 base price. Analysts earlier had estimated the first Model 3s off the factory line in Fremont, California, could be loaded with extra equipment and sell for $50,000 to$60,000.

Tesla has undertaken a costly expansion of the Fremont plant, aiming to boost annual capacity to 500,000 by 2020, with production of the Model 3, the company’s first mass-market car, ramping up slowly through 2019.

Some analysts said the company could have trouble filling all the initial Model 3 orders, which are accompanied by a refundable $1,000 deposit, until 2020.

Barclays analyst Brian Johnson on Friday said the heavy influx of Model 3 orders “sets the stage for an equity offering” later this year by Tesla, much of which would go toward factory construction and product development.

Johnson had estimated Tesla could take 250,000-300,000 orders for the car by the end of June.

 

 

Twitter’s 140 Character Limit To Remain

March 21, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

In a television interview, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said the company doesn’t censor users’ tweets, and the company’s not doing away with the 140-character message limit.

Dorsey gave a wide-ranging interview to Matt Lauer onThe Today Show, marking the tenth anniversary of the micro-blogging site. Twitter has gained a huge mainstream following but still struggles with its bottom line, attracting new users and the loss of key employees.

Twitter “is the easiest way to see what’s happening in the world right now live,” said Dorsey, who took over the CEO spot, for a second time around, in October. “It really reflects what’s happening right now and what people want to talk about.”

In the interview, Dorsey touched on the recent threat the terror group ISIS made against him and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “I found it alarming,” he said. “We took it very seriously.”

When Lauer asked a question about whether Twitter censors users, Dorsey emphatically denied it, saying, “Absolutely not.

“Twitter has always been about controls,” said Dorsey. “People can follow who they want. It’s our job to make sure they see the most important things and the things that matter to them… You can follow who you want and if there’s something you don’t want to see, you don’t have to follow it.”

And while Dorsey did say tweets that promote violence are against the company’s terms of service, he also said he’s never personally blocked anyone from his own feed.

“I get some nastiness every now and then,” said Dorsey. “I want to see what people are saying. I really want to hear from them.”

Dorsey also talked about the trolls who use Twitter to bash people. “It’s disappointing but it’s a reflective of the world,” said Dorsey. “We see as much optimism and positivity as negativity. And the most important thing is that we empower dialogue, we empower conversations so people can work out their issues.”

 

 

 

Twitter Shuts Down 125,000 Terrorism-related Accounts

February 8, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc has suspended more than 125,000 terrorism-related accounts since the middle of 2015, most of them linked to the Islamic State group, the company said in a blog post on Friday.

Twitter has said it only takes down accounts when they are reported by other users, but said that it has increased the size of teams monitoring and responding to reports and has decreased its response time “significantly.”

Twitter’s announcement comes as many tech companies – led by Facebook – have taken stronger steps to police controversial content online in the face of threats from legislators to force the companies to report “terrorist activity” on their sites to law enforcement.

Silicon Valley has been wary of engaging with government officials, concerned about endless demands for similar action from countries around the world as well as fears about being perceived by consumers as tools of government.

The announcement was also notable because Twitter has said little about its efforts to combat Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and similar groups even though it has been criticized for not doing enough.

Islamic State, which controls last swathes of Iraq and Syria, has heavily relied on the 300 million-person site, as well as others, to recruit fighters and propagate violent messages.

Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University’s program on extremism, said Friday’s report showcased an “impressive number” of takedowns, but said that Twitter still appears to police extremist content in a mostly “episodic” way.

Many extremists have migrated toward smaller, less monitored platforms in recent months in response to major Silicon Valley firms stepping up their content policing, Hughes added.

In January, a delegation of top national security officials met tech industry leaders from Twitter, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, and Google parent Alphabet Inc, but most companies, including Twitter, did not send their chief executive officers.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, called Twitter’s announcement a “very positive development,” but said more was needed.

“Addressing the use of social media by terrorists will require a sustained and cooperative effort between the technology sector, the Intelligence Community, and law enforcement,” he said.

Still, Twitter said in a blog post that it has cooperated with law enforcement when appropriate.

 

Amazon’s E-mail ‘Share’ Runs Afoul Of German Law

January 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A German court has ruled as unlawful a feature that encourages Amazon customers to share links to products of the online shop with their contacts, confirming the ruling of a lower court.

The Amazon “share” feature invites customers to share a product via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Pintrest.

The court said on Monday that sharing by e-mail without approval of the recipient was illegal. It is “unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment,” the regional court in Hamm said, confirming the ruling of a lower court in Arnsberg.

The case was brought against one of Amazon’s resellers by a competitor.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ruling comes after Germany’s highest court ruled earlier this month that a similar feature that encourages Facebook users to market the social media network to their contacts as unlawful.

At the time, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV), which brought the Facebook case to court, had said the ruling would have implications for other services in Germany which use similar forms of advertising.

 

News Corp Says Rumors Of Twitter Purchase Are False

January 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp said rumors about the company potentially purchasing microblogging site Twitter Inc or building a stake in it were untrue.

The stock rose from a record low after unconfirmed chatter about News Corp’s interest in Twitter circulated on Wednesday. The rumors intensified after a CNBC segment, tech website Re/code said.

The social media site was evaluated as a takeover target because of the company’s shrinking stock price, Re/code said.

In the few months since co-founder Jack Dorsey returned as the chief executive, Twitter has been trying to make the site more engaging. The company said in December it was testing a feature to show ads to people who read tweets without logging in as it tries to monetize non-active users.

“Twitter inside a larger organization definitely makes theoretical sense, whether its another internet company or a media company,” Monness, Crespi, Hardt, & Co Inc analyst James Cakmak said.

A News Corp spokesman said there was no truth to the rumors.

Twitter already has several high-profile investors. Former Microsoft Corp CEO Steve Ballmer reported a 4 percent stake in October, making him the third-biggest shareholder after Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Twitter has been the subject of takeover rumors in the past, including a fake report attributed to Bloomberg that claimed the company had received an offer to be acquired for $31 billion.

Twitter had received bids from Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc, according to reports.