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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.

 

 

Twitter Blames Recent Outage On Software Update

January 21, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc stated that it had reversed a glitchy software update and resolved outages widely reported across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America that affected users of the social network on computers and phones.

In a status update message Twitter said an “intermittent issue affecting some users” was related to “an internal code change.”

“We reverted the change, which fixed the issue,” Twitter said in a statement. There was no immediate way to determine whether full service had been restored for all users.

Wall Street has long worried about Twitter’s stagnant growth in users and advertising revenue, and analysts said the outage added to the concern.

“The current market malaise and the recent site outages are compounding the negatives and having a very negative reaction on the shares,” said Victor Anthony, Axiom Capital Management analyst.

Some users who tweeted with the hashtag #twitterdown reported they had not experienced problems or that their service had been restored. Others said they were still having problems after Twitter’s announcement.

Many pointed out that Twitter could not have been down for everyone since #twitterdown was among the top trending hashtags on the site.

Both Twitter’s Internet and mobile services began experiencing outages concentrated in northern Europe around 0820 GMT.

Users from Scandinavia to Saudi Arabia to South Africa reported outages. India and Russia also suffered performance issues, according to a Twitter technical site.

Intermittent breakdowns later spread to the United States and Canada in the early part of their working day.

Sporadic disruptions continued at 1420 GMT, six hours after they first began to spread. At approximately 1745 GMT Twitter reported that some users were still having trouble accessing the service.

Fifteen minutes later the company announced the service problems had been resolved. A company spokeswoman had no further comment.

 

 

 

Tweets With 10,000 Character Limits Coming Soon?

January 7, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter may be gearing up to allow tweets with more than 140 characters. A lot more.

Re/Code and other sites are reporting that Twitter is working on a feature that will give users a 10,000-character limit. The social media company reportedly is looking to launch it by the end of the first quarter.

The report also stated that Twitter would look much the same as it does now, with a maximum of 140 characters showing in a tweet. However, users would be able to click on something inside the tweet to reveal more text.

The 10,000 number isn’t firm and could change once the feature is released.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.

Industry analysts are unsure how this move would go over with users, but it’s clear that Jack Dorsey, who became Twitter’s CEO again this past fall, needs to boost the company’s user growth, as well as its bottom line.

“This is the million-dollar question for Twitter,” said Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst. “Should they change their brand identity in order to chase growth or stick to their guns and find other ways? And 140 characters is just an arbitrary number. However, since Twitter’s founding, 140 characters has been what it’s all about.”

Kagan added that he doesn’t think users are clamoring for more characters to use in their tweets. If users have more to say, they simply tweet several times.

 

 

Twitter To Revived Archived, Deleted Tweets Of Politicians

January 4, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Right on the heels of the first U.S. presidential primaries and caucuses, a popular archive of sometimes-misguided or embarrassing tweets that have been deleted by politicians and their staff has been resurrected by Twitter.

Politwoops had been a popular social media destination for political junkies and others looking to unearth social media gaffes by politicians.

But in a move widely lambasted by open-government advocates, Twitter effectively shuttered Politwoops last summer when it revoked access to its interface by the government accountability watchdog, the Sunlight Foundation, that had developed the tool and had been publishing the tweets.

On Thursday, Twitter said it had reached a deal with Sunlight and another organization, the Open State Foundation, to restore the tool.

“Politwoops is an important tool for holding our public officials, including candidates and elected or appointed public officials, accountable for the statements they make, and we’re glad that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with Twitter to bring it back online both in the U.S. and internationally,” said Jenn Topper, communications director for The Sunlight Foundation.

While the announcement was a victory for government-transparency advocates, it could prove to be a setback for politicians hoping to avoid the social media rumpus that can accompany an ill-timed tweet or misconstrued online musing.

The deal comes as the clock ticks closer to the first vote casting in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. The Iowa caucuses will take place on Feb. 1, followed by the first primary in New Hampshire on Feb. 9.

 

 

Epic Looks Into AMD Issues

December 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Epic Games said it is investigating issue with Unreal Engine 4 and AMD CPUs.

The problem appears in Squad which is the first big, publicly available game using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4. The game was just stuck up on Steam so complaints about the AMD have been somewhat vocal.

The engine appears to create a poor performance on AMD CPUs due to an audio component of the engine. The issue has been reported before but no one took it that seriously. In fact some of theissues here seem to be a communication problem between Squad and Epic.

Squad developer Offworld Industries told Tweaktown that there was little it could do about this besides wait for Epic to fix it and release the fix in an engine patch.

However Epic’s senior marketing manager Dana Cowley said she didn’t even know about the problem until she was contacted by the media.

She said he was getting on the blower with the Squad team to investigate, and see how it could help.

There is a work around being suggested on the blogs which might help. If you navigate to C:UsersAppDataLocalSquadSavedConfigWindowsNoEditor, back up the Engine.ini file then open it with Notepad, find the [Audio] section, change MaxChannels from 128 to 96, 64, or 32, and save.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple Shutters Twitter Data Analzying Service Topsy

December 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple Inc has decided to shutter its Topsy Labs unit, which specialized in analyzing Twitter data and providing insights into current sentiment on a variety of topics, and the move prompted an outcry from many of its users.

The website for the platform www.topsy.com currently directs users to an Apple support page. On Tuesday night, Topsy sent out its last tweet from its ‏@Topsy account: “We’ve searched our last tweet.”

Apple acquired Topsy in December 2013 for more than $200 million, an unusual purchase for a hardware-focused company that has made few forays into social networking. An Apple spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

San Francisco-based Topsy was one of Twitter’s early partners, enjoying direct access to the messaging service’s billions of tweets over several years. It has indexed them all to make them readily and rapidly searchable.

“What the heck! Gone too soon,” wrote Twitter user Doyan Wilfred (@ThinkDoyan) on Wednesday.

Adrian Parker (@adrianparker), another Twitter user, wrote: “Heartbreak. Topsy was my secret Twitter weapon (Tweapon?)”

Former employees of Topsy also took to social media to express their sadness.

“RIP (rest in peace) Topsy” Rishab Aiyer Ghosh (@r2g2), one of the four founders of the company, tweeted on Tuesday night.

Topsy employee Paul Gerard Porter (@paul_g_porter) tweeted: “What an incredible run we had – I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Topsy team #endofanera.”

Before the Topsy acquisition, Apple’s main effort in social media had revolved around Ping, a music-centered social sharing network that was at one point integrated into the company’s iTunes app. The service, which lets users post music tracks they liked to a news feed, did not catch on and was shut down.

 

Twitter Warns Some Users They Were Potential Hacking Targets

December 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc issued an alert to some users warning them that state-sponsored hackers may have tried to breach their accounts, the company said, the first such warning by the micro blogging site.

The notice said there was no indication the hackers obtained sensitive information from what it said were a “small group of accounts” targeted.

It did not provide additional information about the attack or possible suspects in its investigation.

Twitter’s notice is the latest amid concern about cyber attacks by state-sponsored organizations. Government agencies, businesses and media have all been hacked.

Motherboard, a tech news site, and the Financial Times earlier reported on Twitter’s warning.

One organization that said it received the notice, a Winnipeg-based nonprofit called Coldhak, said the warning from Twitter came on Friday. The notice said the attackers may have been trying to obtain information such as “email addresses, IP addresses, and/or phone numbers”.

Coldhak’s Twitter account, @coldhakca, retweeted reports from a number of other users who said they received the notice. Coldhak and the other users did not indicate why they may have been singled out.

Colin Childs, one of the founding directors of Coldhak, told Reuters his organization has seen “no noticeable impact of this attack”.

Google and Facebook have also started issuing warnings to users possibly targeted by state-sponsored attacks.

 

 

Twitter Has New Way To Reach Non-active Users

December 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Twitter Inc said it was testing a feature to show advertisements to people who read tweets without logging in, as it looks to make good on its long-time ambition to monetize non-active users.

The company said the feature will help it cash in on an additional half a billion people each month, pushing its shares up as much as 7.8 percent to $26.21 on Thursday – their biggest percentage gain in two months.

The promoted tweets and videos will be available on Twitter’s desktop website, particularly on people’s profile pages and “tweet detail” pages that highlight specific tweets.

The move will be welcomed by advertisers who have shied away from Twitter saying it doesn’t have enough users, unlike rival Facebook Inc, which boasts more than 1.55 billion monthly active users (MAUs). Twitter has 320 million MAUs.

Facebook, which had once struggled to monetize its social networking platform, has been consistently launching tools to capture ad dollars.

Twitter had first broached this idea last year when Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said it would be possible to monetize logged-out users once the company “nailed the consumer experience”.

The company has said that ads targeted at logged-out users – or people who view tweets without a Twitter account – would bring in $2.50 in average revenue per user (ARPU). Its logged-in user base brings in more than $4 in ARPU.

Twitter has been experimenting under Jack Dorsey – the company’s co-founder who returned as chief executive in October – to make the website more engaging.

“The best thing to happen under Jack Dorsey would be the fact that they are going to rethink all aspects of their business,” Monness, Crespi, Hardt, & Co Inc analyst James Cakmak said.

“Before it was a case of doing the same thing and hoping things change.”

In the few months under Dorsey, Twitter introduced the ‘Moments’ feature, added polls to tweets, laid off about 8 percent of its workforce and rolled out a “buy” button.

The new ads feature was being tested with some advertisers in the United States, UK, Japan and Australia, Twitter said on Thursday. The company plans to roll it out to more markets around the world.

 

 

 

Microsoft Teams Up With Law Enforcement To Take On Dorkbot

December 8, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft announced that it has worked with law enforcement agencies in several regions to disrupt a four-year-old botnet called Dorkbot, which has infected one million computers worldwide.

The Dorkbot malware aims to steal login credentials from services such as Gmail, Facebook, PayPal, Steam, eBay, Twitter and Netflix.

It was first spotted around April 2011. Users typically get infected by browsing to websites that automatically exploit vulnerable software using exploit kits and through spam. It also has a worm functionality and can spread itself through through social media and instant messaging programs or removable media drives.

Microsoft didn’t provide much detail on how Dorkbot’s infrastructure was disrupted. The company has undertaken several such actions over the last few years in cooperation with law enforcement.

Coordinated actions to take botnet servers offline have an immediate impact, but the benefits can be short-lived. Cybercriminals often set up new hosting and command-and-control infrastructure and begin rebuilding the botnet by infecting new computers.

Microsoft said it worked with security vendor ESET, the Computer Emergency Response Team Polska, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, Europol, the FBI, Interpol, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Cybercriminals have sold a kit that allows other bad actors to build botnets using Dorkbot. The kit, called NgrBot, is sold in underground online forums, Microsoft wrote in a blog post.

 

 

Facebook Sees Monthly Users Swell To Over 1.5B

November 6, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Facebook sailed past another milestone, reporting Wednesday that its base of monthly active users surpassed 1.5 billion for the first time.

Facebook crossed the 1 billion monthly user mark in September 2012, so it’s taken about three years to add the last half billion. It took just over two years to amass the half billion before that. For comparison, Twitter has about 320 million monthly users.

Facebook announced the figure with its earnings results for the third quarter, which came in better than expected. Revenue was $4.5 billion, up 41 percent from a year earlier, the company said, while net profit was $896 million, up 11 percent.

Excluding charges, Facebook’s profit was 57 cents a share, better than the 52 cents a share analysts were expecting, according to a poll by Thompson Reuters.

Facebook had 1.55 billion monthly active users at the end of September, up 14 percent from the same time last year. Mobile monthly active users were 1.39 billion, it said.

The social network announced another milestone in August, when it said the number of people who accessed Facebook in a single day passed 1 billion for the first time.

“When we talk about our financials, we use average numbers, but this is different. This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it’s just the beginning of connecting the whole world,” Zuckerberg said at the time.

The company’s net profit had declined in the two previous quarters, largely because costs increased as it invested in new areas like virtual reality. But costs rose less sharply this past quarter — by 68 percent, compared to 82 percent in the second quarter — and net profit was up again.

 

 

 

 

T-Mobile Tackles Signal Problems With Free Mini Cellular Tower

November 5, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile has announced an indoor 4G LTE CellSpot that will aid small businesses and residents in connecting up to 16 simultaneous calls or data sessions.

The device is free to T-Mobile Simple Choice postpaid customers as long as they remain with the carrier, and a $25 deposit is required. The device will be available Wednesday through T-Mobile customer care or participating stores nationwide.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere called the CellSpot the first mini tower available from a U.S. carrier, and revved up the rhetoric that other carriers aren’t letting customers freely decide where to put small cell devices for better cellular coverage.

“They’ll do absolutely everything they can to bleed you dry,” Legere said of his competitors in a statement, with similar comments in a video posted Monday on his Twitter feed.

The mini tower requires a power connection as well as a wired broadband Internet connection. The broadband acts as a backhaul to T-Mobile’s network, much the same way that a wired or fiber-optic connection at the base of a cell tower connects to the carrier’s network.

The tower is designed to boost indoor wireless coverage in an area of 3,000 square feet on average for customers with limited indoor signals. It will work with any 3G or 4G LTE device that works on T-Mobile’s network.

The device also works anywhere that T-Mobile has wireless spectrum, even if there is no existing T-Mobile signal to a particular address, according to T-Mobile. The carrier has spectrum holdings in metro areas across the nation.

Over the wireless signal, CellSpot supports HD voice, voice over LTE, video calling and messaging, among other services.

The CellSpot announcement prompted a flurry of rumors about what T-Mobile might announce at its 10th Un-carrier announcement on Nov. 10 in Los Angeles.

Some analysts have speculated that T-Mobile will announce a free or nearly free wireless video streaming service, possibly by using the CellSpot.

 

 

 

Steve Ballmer Believes In Twitter

October 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Ex Microsoft Corp  Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has purchased a 4 percent stake in Twitter Inc, according to his spokesman, making him the third-biggest individual shareholder in the social media company.

Ballmer’s stake is worth more than $800 million based on Twitter’s $21 billion market value. Only co-founder Evan Williams and Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal have greater stakes among individual investors.

Friday Ballmer tweeted from a non-verified account that he built up his stake over the past several months.

His tweet lauded Twitter’s new ‘Moments’ feature, which curates the best tweets of the day, and Dorsey’s appointment as permanent CEO last week.

“Good job @twitter, @twittermoments innovation, @jack Ceo, leaner, more focused,” the tweet said. “Glad I bought 4% past few months.”

Twitter declined to comment. Ballmer himself did not return requests for comment.

Ballmer, who bought the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team after retiring as Microsoft CEO in February 2014, has a personal fortune of about $21.5 billion, making him the 35th richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

Ballmer now owns more of Twitter than co-founder and CEO Dorsey, who has a 3.2 percent stake, according to Thomson Reuters data. Williams is the largest individual shareholder with about 7.5 percent, followed by Alwaleed with about 5.2 percent.

Like @alwaleedbinT move too,” Ballmer’s tweet said. Alwaleed and his investment firm, Kingdom Holding Co 4280.SE, said earlier this month they had raised their stake in Twitter to more than 5 percent.

Ballmer’s investment is a sign that Twitter’s efforts to revive growth under Dorsey is being appreciated, Monness, Crespi, Hardt, & Co Inc analyst James Cakmak said.

“I think it’s just another point of evidence that the step that they are taking to redirect the business toward growth is resonating,” Cakmak said.

Twitter has made several new announcements since Dorsey, who also served as CEO in 2008, returned on a permanent basis last week. On Tuesday, Twitter said it will lay off about 8 percent of its workforce and on Wednesday, it hired Google Inc executive Omid Kordestani as executive chairman.

FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi said Ballmer’s stake could be indicative of widespread confidence in Dorsey and his strategy.

 

 

 

 

Facebook Rolled Out Updates For Mobile Profiles

October 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc introduced updates to mobile profile pages to enable users to better personalize their profiles and more easily control their privacy settings.

Facebook has been looking to improve and ease its mobile profile experience as it makes more of its $10 billion-plus in annual ad revenue off of phones. The updates also come during New York City’s 12th Advertising Week, where Facebook is courting the world’s largest advertisers and companies.

Among the new features are profile videos, or a short looping video clip that users can create in place of a static profile picture. The feature is similar to Vine, a video sharing app owned by Twitter Inc.

Users can also set a temporary profile picture that reverts to their old picture at a specified time. Those who want to support a sports team or charitable cause for a specific week, for example, can choose a picture to display for a short time period.

Facebook also introduced more ways to control privacy settings so that users can curate what pieces of information are public and which are only viewable to “friends,” or people that they have allowed to view profiles.