Twitter May Offer “Sponsored” Trending Topics

Despite billions of tweets each month, Twitter still struggles to come up with a plausible business model. They recently started testing out Promoted Tweets but that may not be enough. The latest experiment of Twitter may be sponsored Trending topics. That means, along with user generated trending topics, we soon might see topics manually inserted by advertisers for tens of thousands of dollars a day.

As All Things Digital reports, the negotiations with potential advertisers are still at an early stage and there is no word on when we will see this implemented. However, given the increasing power of Twitter, there is absolutely no doubt that many advertisers are ready to grab the opportunity. This mode of marketing would be specially good for brands that want to create a big splash in a short period of time for example movies and TV shows.

Another factor to consider in this regard is the limited number of trending topics Twitter can display. Once rolled out, this might see advertisers bidding for a spot which would obviously mean increased revenue for Twitter. The likelihood of Twitter making this location-based is also very high. This would allow advertisers to tailor their ads to specific markets and would allow Twitter to accommodate multiple advertisers at the same time.

Do you think this will finally be the money-maker for Twitter, or does Twitter need to come up with something more integrated and intelligent to monetize their platform?

Twitter Launches Special FIFA World Cup Mini Site

With just a few hours remaining for the kick-off of FIFA World Cup 2010, football (soccer) frenzy across the world is reaching its fever pitch. Not satisfied with just adding a World Cup theme, Twitter has launched a whole new mini-site to track the World Cup frenzy.

“Using live widgets, real-time search, and Top Tweets (updates that are currently catching the attention of many Twitter users) we’ve put together a special site to capture the spirit of the World Cup and it’s already pulsing with activity”, announced Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter.


The World Cup mini-site displays top tweets, as well as a schedule of upcoming matches. Clicking on any of the match links will take you to a new page displaying tweets from fans of both countries. In order to identify supporters of a particular country twitter is relying on hashtags (or hashflags) like #arg, #bra, #eng, #esp, #fra, #ger and #ita. Unfortunately, at the moment the match streams are being dominated by spammers.

Twitter Acquires Analytics Start-up Smallthought Systems

Trendly-DabbleDB Recently Twitter announced that it will be changing its default URL shortner from to an in-house solution. Obviously, this change will help Twitter get a better idea about trending stories on Twitter. As the next step in its goal of better understanding the pulse of the web, Twitter has acquired Smallthought Systems.

Smallthought Systems is a four person startup that is responsible for creating Dabble DB, an online database and web analytics filter tool that was being utilized by Twitter until a year ago. They are also the developers of Trendly, a service which helps making sense of Google Analytics data. Once again, Twitter’s analytics team found use for Trendly. In fact, Twitter was one of the earliest testers of Trendly.

As a result of the acquisition, Avi Bryant, Andrew Catton, Ben Matasar, and Luke Andrews from Smallthought Systems will now join Twitter’s analytics team. This also probably means the end of the road for DabbleDB and Trendly. Although Smallthought has promised to continue providing both the services to existing customers, new account signups has been disabled.

Twitter Adds New World Cup Theme

Twitter-FIFA-Theme With the football (soccer) World Cup is knocking at the doors, everyone is busy finalizing their plans to leverage the ultimate sporting spectacle. When the previous FIFA World Cup was held, Twitter was still in its infancy. However, this time around it is expecting a massive surge in activity during the tournament.

Twitter has rolled out a new World Cup 2010 based theme to get you in the football frenzy. In order to enable the theme, head over to the Design tab in your settings page.


Recently, Google also did its bit by changing the search results navigation links from Goooooooooogle to Gooooooooooal for the search query “World Cup“.

Have you noticed any other cool World Cup themed easter-eggs in your favorite websites? Don’t forget to let us know.

Twitter’s A Take on Other URL Shortener

We have already seen Twitter shorten links in Direct messages. Now, it is expanding the same technology into status updates. This is one feature users have missed and complained about for too long and finally, Twitter is rolling it out as a feature for regular use.

This service has existed for direct messages which were shortened with to prevent phishing and other forms of scams. This was achieved by blacklisting links from user generated reports and feedback. Now, the newly bought domain will serve the feature to status updates.

The inclusion of this feature was hinted at, at the Chirp developer conference this year. This link shortening aims at improving the generated short links by keeping them meaningful and short at the same time. This would also help Twitter analyze the popularity of a link and roll out features based on it.

Not only this, the feature once integrated into the Twitter API will allow developers integrate newer tools and features into their applications and this will enhance the Twitter ecosystem as a whole. The developers will also have a more flexible choice on generating the shortened links.

The service is available for testing to selected Twitter employees only though; Twitter aims at making it available to the public soon. Once this feature is made available, I wonder what will do to keep its charm.


Did Twitter Really Censor Gaza Flotilla Keywords?

When Israel Navy attacked convoys carrying provisions and supplies for people in Gaza today, Twitter was immediately abuzz with the news of the incident and the hashtag #flotilla immediately started to trend. However, after a few hours, the hashtag #flotilla disappeared from the trending topics despite the issue being discussed by everybody and their grandma.

Many theories exist on what might have happened. The first one obviously includes the preposition that Twitter has censored the topic like it has allegedly done before. However, some other keywords related to the topic like “gaza flotilla” and #freedomflotilla kept trending which is a strong argument against the possibility of Twitter censorship. Users have also suggested that for at least a few hours earlier today, the Twitter searched stopped working for keywords such as flotilla and gaza flotilla. This outage however, is not reported by people throughout the world and is only limited to certain countries like Indonesia.

A post from TechCrunch suggests that Twitter may be taking #Gaza and #Flotilla as part of an old news and hence excluded them from trending topics which sounds like an absurd idea since one would expect a team as intelligent as Twitter’s to factor that in. Plus, if this was true, anything related to Justin Beiber would never trend.

TechCrunch later updated the post with an official Twitter statement:

We are investigating a technical issue that caused search errors for a short period of time this morning. Twitter facilitates the open exchange of information and opinions worldwide so when that is hampered for any amount of time by a bug, we take it very seriously.

There is still no word of what exactly happened today and why the keyword related to the Israel attack stopped trending suddenly. However, with so many theories aboard, users are picking-and-chosing their favorite one while the image of Twitter as an unbiased and free medium of speech gets tarnished. This has also added to an overall increasingly negative image of social media sites since it adds fuel to the privacy and security issues Facebook is already dealing with.

Indian Post Office Is Now On Twitter

Call it a social networking bug or the larger move to be more accessible to people who rely on them, but I find it really interesting that an organization is taking an initiative to be available and ready for answers on a social networking platform like .

When I saw a tweet from Shashi Tharoor, an ex-minister in the current Indian government congratulating the Post Office of India on being on Twitter, my light bulbs quickly lit up, this was clearly a new breakthrough for me at-least, considering how hidden and greasy Indian government agencies work.

I am really thrilled to see an entire Government organization take on a social networking outlook and look forward to more and more interactions with local as well as the country’s Government to tackle issues on a real-time basis.

However, I would also like this initiative to last a long time and see dedicated resources to take the internet channel to address problems that are being faced. Kudos to the Indian Post Office, and you can follow them @PostOfficeIndia

For the record, I did pay Rs. 50 as a gratuity to my postman for delivering my passport, but otherwise have never done it, however, they do know what you want and can act accordingly :-P.

Pakistan Lifts YouTube Ban Partially

Last week the Pakistan government had banned YouTube because of its "growing sacrilegious content". However, according to new reports from Associated Press, the government has now decided to lift the ban on , albeit, partially.

The Pakistan government will continue to block videos which are offensive to Muslims, while allow other YouTube video to continue being viewed.

According to AP, the government seemed to move in that direction Wednesday by deciding it would restore access to YouTube but continue to block videos "displaying profane or sacrilegious material," said Najibullah Malik, the secretary at Pakistan’s information technology ministry.

However, there was no news on when the Government would lift the ban on , which was the root cause of the ban due to controversial caricatures of Prophet Mohammad. There were also reports that Twitter was banned in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s neighbor India also reportedly banned the "Everybody draw Mohammed Day" Facebook page. There were reports that the ban on Facebook and maybe may remain in effect till May 31st, however, there are no concrete reports to prove that claim yet.

Are you able to access YouTube or Twitter is Pakistan now, or is it still blocked?

Pakistan Bans Twitter After Facebook and YouTube

In an attempt to control the controversies over Prophet Mohammad, Pakistan has been banning social networking and video sites left and right. It all started out with a total block of Facebook in Pakistan, which will remain in effect till May 31st or maybe longer.

The next on the line was  which was again blocked because of its "growing sacrilegious content". Third in line in the ban list is , where information flows just like butter off a hot knife.

It is not the first time though that governments have used bans to curtail information or freedom, there have been blocks by China, Iran, North Korea, India and many more countries on websites which they deem as problematic. However, is banning websites the best cause of action?

Not exactly, if people want to access information they will find ways to do it, no matter how hard you try to stop them. If one solution fails, another will come up, if that fails, another. The cycle will continue and people will get what they want.

In the end, you are only giving people more eagerness to access what they cannot have. If you do need to keep away from something, the best cause of action would be to talk to the concerned websites and have the content removed, however, governments would argue that you cannot have watchdogs poring over content to find what is right or what is wrong, so just take the easy way out and ban everything in sight.

In my honest opinion, religious sentiments can often go off-hand specially when you are talking about the Internet, however, bans are often not the way to go. It is a human sentiment to want more of what is restricted, however, it is sad that such things have to happen over and over again.

TwitweeClock: A Clock That Cuckoos For Specific Tweets

Twitter has been used in all sorts of amazing things. The latest one is a clock that cuckoo’s everytime a tweet matching your query comes in. This clock called TwitweeClock has been designed by Haroon Baig, a communication designer from Germany.

You can set the TwitweeClock to cuckoo anytime a tweet with your user name or a specific hashtag comes in. For example, in the video below Haroon demonstrates how the TwitweeClock cuckoos when any tweet carried the word TwitweeClock. It is a great tool to be used in emergencies or in situations where you are expecting a critically important tweet but cannot be around your computer or mobile phone.

Once the clock cuckoos, the incoming tweet can be read on a small screen attached to the clock. The screen can also be used to scroll through previous tweets that have come in through to TwitweeClock. Here is some other information on how Haroon put this together:

From a technical point of view the clock consists of a touch screen display with a controller board and a wifi dongle, that is distributed as an open source/ open hardware platform with a linux operating system by Chumby Industries. On the device there is a Flash Lite Player installed, a flash runtime for mobile devices from Adobe. A custom built widget for the Twitwee Clock connects to the Twitter API to receive new tweets. The mechanic of the cuckoo is controlled by the Arduino Board.

Via FlowingData