There was a time once when Tumblr and Posterous were in a tough battle for the short-blogging space. The battle is long over. Tumblr has emerged as the undefeated champion and Posterous has barely managed to stay afloat. In the last one year, Posterous shifted its focus from competing with Tumblr, to group conversation. It has worked well for Posterous and it managed to stay in business.
However, the latest development at Posterous is great news for them. Twitter just acquired Posterous. The Posterous blog has announced this acquisition saying,
The opportunities in front of Twitter are exciting, and we couldn’t be happier about bringing our team’s expertise to a product that reaches hundreds of millions of users around the globe. Plus, the people at Twitter are genuinely nice folks who share our vision for making sharing simpler.
Along with the technology, Twitter also let in the Posterous team, which includes product managers and engineers.
The Posterous team has promised that all the existing services at Posterous (like Posterous Spaces) will continue to be live and the withdrawal of any service will be announced well in advance. Additionally, instructions for backup of data and other artifacts stored with Posterous accounts will be announced soon. This is a bit confusing, as on one hand, the Posterous team suggests that they will keep all their current offerings live, and on the other hand, they are promising prior withdrawal notices.
It is unclear whether Posterous will meet its fate eventually, but the Posterous team will definitely be a valuable addition at Twitter.
SPDY is an Open Source alternative to the HTTP protocol, and is being seen as a potential replacement for HTTP. Google has already implemented SPDY across its servers and if you are on Google Chrome browser, you are using SPDY to access Google services. SPDY is required on both the browser and the web-server for speed improvements. The current version of HTTP, HTTP 1.1, is almost a decade old and it was built for the requirements of websites that were a decade old. With SPDY, the web will get faster and will cater to the needs of faster web-applications.
SPDY is at its core an application-layer protocol for transporting content over the web. It is designed specifically for minimizing latency through features such as multiplexed streams, request prioritization and HTTP header compression.
It is interesting to note that Twitter is not the only going for SPDY. Recently, Firefox has started shipping its browser with SPDY and it can be turned on Firefox nightly of version 11 and 12 via the “network.http.spdy.enabled” key.
Google is working to speed up multiple layers on the network protocol stack. SPDY speeds up the application layer, it has plans for hacking TCP to speed up the transport layer and internet layers, and Google fiber speeds up the underlying physical medium. Although slow, the next internet upgrade is coming, and clearly, Google is driving it.
Twitter has sold all your old tweets to Datasift, a UK based data mining company for market research, according to a report from Dailymail. That’s right, anything you’ve posted on your Twitter account is now also stored on Datasift’s servers and will be mined by advertisers and data research companies. Datasift has already launched a platform which allows advertisers to search trends in Tweets ranging back to January 2010. Unless you maintain a private Twitter timeline, all your old tweets will be sold which also includes location data, date, time and GPS information.
Any guesses on who founded Datasift? None other than Tweetmeme founder Nick Halstead, who confirmed the historical data partnership with Twitter through a blog post.
Here is a brief video which briefly explains Datasift’s working model:
Here are some official words from Datasift:
DataSift Historics enables companies to tap into historical Twitter data to filter and extract insights and trends that relate to brands, businesses, customers, financial markets, news and public opinion.
To create insights from Social Data, we enrich every Tweet with details including sentiment, topics, web-links, location and social media influence – giving companies an unprecedented capability to filter Social Data, extract meaning and create insights.
Before you label this as an “unethical act”, read Twitter’s TOS which clearly states that:
You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).
At the end of the day, a tweet is nothing but publicly accessible information posted by the user. Precisely, YOU. Your tweets can be read by anyone, including third party services or apps. I agree that you own the rights to any content you post but you are not the sole owner of your Tweet. Twitter is. Unless of course you keep deleting old tweets every other day.
The official Twitter apps for iPhone and Android have just received a major refresh, bringing back swipe and other demanding features. Additionally, Twitter has also released a Kindle Fire app on the Amazon app store, while an update to the Barnes and Noble nook store is a work in progress. The Android app is now optimized to perform smoothly in devices running on Ice Cream Sandwich.
The much needed swipe feature introduced in this update, now allows you to swipe through a tweet in order to retweet, reply or favorite it. You can either swipe or tap and hold to reveal additional interactive options, no need to hop over someone’s Twitter timeline just to reply to a tweet or favorite something.
Here is how the swipe gesture works, in case you are not sure how it works:
After getting nuked over iPhone contact upload issue, Twitter has now updated both mobile apps to notify users that using the “Find friends” feature will upload their contact list on Twitter’s servers. When you navigate to the “Find friends” section under the #Discover tab, Twitter will show the following alert:
“We’ve added a confirmation alert when you select “Find friends”. This notification more clearly and explicitly messages the fact that when you upload your contacts’ email addresses and phone numbers, you can quickly find which of your friends are on Twitter (that is, if they’ve chosen to be discoverable by email or phone number).” – Twitter said in an official blog post.
The iPhone app, has now a huge edge over its Android counterpart, as this update has returned the classic copy and paste of text in tweets. Simply tap and hold to copy all the text of a tweet (including links), which is lifesaving. Talking of Android, I have to repeatedly hit the Share button next to a tweet, select “Messaging” and then copy all the text from my inbox. Then fall back to the Twitter app and paste the copied text as a status – a very time consuming affair. Boring!
There is more, the sharing features of the iPhone app has received more goodness. Now you can retweet, copy, email or select “read it later”, whenever you tap a tweet that contains a hyperlink. Pressing or holding links in a tweet provide similar options, along with the ability to open the link in Safari web brower. If you’re the type of person who gets three dozen Twitter DM’s every single day, you have one more reason to rejoice. The iPhone app now houses a neat “Mark all DM’s as read” button in the lower right corner.
The popular micro-blogging site Twitter has partnered with Russia’s biggest search engine company, Yandex, in a move that will help boost the site’s real-time search and eventually help it compete with rivals, including Google and Bing search.
The partnership gives Yandex access to Twitter’s public tweets, and enables real-time searching at twitter.yandex.ru, giving its users access to the huge amount of data streaming off the messaging service. However, this deal does not include any of the private tweets, which the user has specifically chosen to “protect” them from being accessed by search engines and other Twitter users.
This will enable Yandex users to see the latest tweets on any subject, by using Yandex’s specific ‘Blogs’ search engine. The results will also include tweets of those users tweeting from Russia, Ukraine, Belarusian or Kazakh, as well as top feeds in other languages.
Anton Pavlov, Yandex’s blog Search Manager, said that it will also allow the Russian based company “to improve the quality of the search,” and users will be able to find tweets “just moments after they have appeared.”
Both companies have declined to disclose the financial details of the deal, however, a similar partnership between Twitter and Microsoft was closed at $30 million.
Twitter currently has more than 100 million active users, nearly 400 million visitors per month, and more than 250 million tweets are posted every day. The total valuation of Twitter is estimated to be $8 billion, although the company has not yet established a proper revenue generating model.
On the other hand, Yandex has about 60 percent market share in Russia, and this deal will perhaps open several doors for the company to come up with new strategies to do more in social networking. The company currently offers features similar to that of Google to share news and other information.
Yandex also mentioned in a press release that the company is currently focused on social networking search and trying to enhance its features. Anton Pavlov adds, “People share news, exchange opinions and discuss all sorts of matters in real time all the time. This kind of information will help us enhance our search results.”
Yandex also states that it has updated its Blog Search API, a tool for webmasters for creating services based on micro-blogging content.
Tang Dynasty at WPDang is says Windows Phone 7 Tango handsets will be available starting march 2012. The more interesting information in Dynasty’s article is, Microsoft replacing key features in Windows Phone with local services widely used in China. Microsoft has talked a lot about the Xbox LIVE integration in Windows Phone; the phone is being seen as an extension of the console–as a remote and a portable gaming device. Damaster at Liveside says, in China, there will be no Xbox LIVE.
Windows Phone 7’s social integration–Facebook and Twitter–will be replaced with local social networks. Unlike in the West, Weibo is the micro-blogging platform used in China. Twitter Co-founder Jack Dorsey, tweeted last month about Twitter being blocked in China; given this having Twitter integration made little sense for Microsoft. It is probably an intelligence move on Microsoft’s part that they’ve partnered with Weibo to integrate the service in Windows Phone, as confirmed by Damaster at Liveside.
Same is the case with Facebook. In China, Microsoft will be replacing Facebook with RenRen.
Last year Twitter implemented a security feature that allowed its users to browse the site via a secured HTTP connection (HTTPS). This feature was not enabled by default and users had to go to their Settings and enable the feature. However, Twitter now wants to secure user profiles and has made the feature enabled by default.
Using HTTPS will not only help protect the privacy of millions of users, but also offers greater protection when accessing the network over unsecured Wi-Fi connections. Websites with a HTTPS connection is much preferred, since it is one of the most secure ways of sending and receiving content on the web. Many Google services including Gmail make use of the HTTPS protocol by adding up an extra layer of security.
Using a site over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection and without having HTTPS enabled, could let hackers gain access to your account with the help of a session cookie. In this case, if you’re using Twitter via an unprotected connection, then the hacker can possible post tweets and read all your Direct Messages without your knowledge.
With HTTPS enabled, it now makes Twitter secured and encrypts your login sessions. That way, no hacker can sneak into your account or gain access to it.
Twitter posted an official statement on its blog explaining the new feature –
Last year, we added the option to always use HTTPS when accessing Twitter.com on the web. This setting makes your Twitter experience more secure by protecting your information, and it’s especially helpful if you use Twitter over an unsecured Internet connection like a public WiFi network.
Now, HTTPS will be on by default for all users, whenever you sign in to Twitter.com. If you prefer not use it, you can turn it off on your Account Settings page. HTTPS is one of the best ways to keep your account safe and it will only get better as we continue to improve HTTPS support on our web and mobile clients.
As the feature now comes enabled by default, users, however, can opt-out if they prefer not to use it. Simply go to your Twitter Settings page and uncheck the “Always use HTTPS” option –
It is recommended that you keep this feature enabled in order to keep your account and data safe. If you’re always using Twitter out and about, it is highly recommended that you use the HTTPS setting and leave it that way forever.
Facebook too has an option for its users to enable HTTPS, but this is yet to become a default feature.
With its rising popularity, Twitter has given a new meaning to free speech and highly engaging global communications. However, this popularity has come for a price. The opinions and sentiments that people tweet are being used as evidence against them, increasingly. This threatens the aura around Twitter, and the recent censorship attempts by various governments taint its image further.
Recently, A Saudi Journalist, Hamza Kashgari, was extradited from Malaysia, for making seemingly blasphemous remarks on Prophet Muhammad. To make matters worse, Interpol was forced to hand over Kashgari. This same Interpol is supposed to remain politically neutral, and not intervene on cases of military, religious or racial nature. Article 3 of the Interpol’s constitution clearly states that
It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.
Kashgari, a newspaper columnist, fled Saudi Arabia after posting a tweet on the prophet’s birthday that sparked more than 30,000 responses and several death threats. The posting, which was later deleted, read: “I have loved things about you, I have hated things about you, and there is a lot I don’t understand about you … I will not pray for you.”
Kasgari is a 23-year-old journalist and faces the death penalty for this deed. This matter proves once again that regional laws govern the use of Twitter. It is only time before someone points a finger at the things we tweet.
A year ago, on this very day, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone from Twitter wrote a detailed post on their blog, outlining their efforts with transparency, censorship of Tweets and keeping the flow of tweets alive. The dramatic headline was “The Tweets must flow”, and it raised some valid concerns regarding the Twitter platform and the content that people share on it.
Our position on freedom of expression carries with it a mandate to protect our users’ right to speak freely and preserve their ability to contest having their private information revealed. While we may need to release information as required by law, we try to notify Twitter users before handing over their information whenever we can so they have a fair chance to fight the request if they so choose.
After an year, today, the Twitter blog has posted another article titled “The Tweets still must flow” and this time, they have announced an improvement to their implementation of censorship. Until now, all geopolitical tweets, which were banned, were removed entirely from the Twitter account of a user. However, starting this year, Twitter has an innovative plan to remove a tweet only from the geographical region that considers it sensitive. Additionally, the user will be notified whenever some content undergoes this partial-censorship on Twitter.
This new policy will help Twitter enter new geographical regions, which have stringent laws regarding free speech. It will also safeguard a user from strict and harsh free-speech laws within some countries. However, it might end up diminishing the user’s accountability, which again will be an excuse for Governments to raise the bar on their version of censorship.
Google has been ramping up its operations with Google+, the social networking they created to rival Facebook. However, of late Google has been trying to introduce a lot of changes to their search results by integrating it with Google+.
Most recently, Google started personalizing Google search results based on recommendations from your Google+ circles. The new introduction is called "Search Plus Your World" and allows users to get answers from search results as well as people who you are connected to on Google+.
This introduction did not sit down with rival social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter who think that it is an unfair advantage for Google to push their own social networking over others. During a recent interview by John Battelle, Facebook’s director Blake Ross said that they had come up with a hack to take back Google to it’s old roots of "Don’t be evil". The hack was created by engineers at Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
How much better would social search be if Google surfaced results from all across the web? The results speak for themselves. We created a tool that uses Google’s own relevance measure—the ranking of their organic search results—to determine what social content should appear in the areas where Google+ results are currently hardcoded.
All of the information in this demo comes from Google itself, and all of the ranking decisions are made by Google’s own algorithms. No other services or APIs are accessed.
The tiny hack or bookmarklet which can be found on the website Focus on the user allows users to switch back to a "more relevant Google" without all the Google+ integrations. It searches all the social web to find relevant results for the users rather than the recent changes in Google search which just focused on getting information from Google+.
The bookmarklet in itself does not change Google’s search results and you will have to manually click on the bookmarklet to see the results generated by them. The screenshot above shows the normal search results which focus heavily on Google+. The one below shows the changes made by the "don’t be evil" bookmarklet where it focuses on other sites like Twitter and Facebook as well.
Facebook and Twitter might be driving a point to Google here asking them to stop being selfish and pushing their own social network when other networks are updated more frequently. The argument from "Focus On The User" is that, Google pushes their own network which hasn’t been updated for past two months, whereas hiding Twitter and Facebook which have been updated more frequently for users.
So is this Google monopoly? Well, it could be and it could not be. Every social networking dictates their own policies and it is difficult to say what is right or what it wrong. It will be interesting to see whether Google makes any changes to their search results or whether they will stay adamant and continue to ignore other social networking sites. The battle has just begun, we’ll be here to tell you more as it happens.
Huffington Post’s 1.5 million twitter followers were baffled for a minute to see a bunch of racist and homophobic tweets being posted today afternoon, until they realized that the publication’s account was compromised.
Apparently, the hacking was done by a person who calls himself ‘cloverfdch’. The offensive tweets have been taken down and things are back to normal now. Officials at Huffington Post haven’t yet reacted on the hacking incident.
UPDATE: Huffington Post has now posted a tweet acknowledging the hacking.
Coincidentally, the twitter and foursquare accounts of the actor Ashton Kutcher was also hacked at around the same time. His account has also been restored now. In Ashton’s case, it appears that the hacker accidentally revealed his own location by using his Foursquare account. Ashton has even posted a picture of the foursquare map with the hacker’s location on twitter.
It is not immediately clear whether their accounts were hacked by the same person.
Given that the operating system and the marketplace are open and without any gate-keepers, it is not surprising at all. What is a benefit to developers (no obstacles to their creativity), comes with a huge price because it is also extremely open for abuse by the bad guys. Now that Android has a huge installed base, it is an easy target for malware infestation.
Today, it was reported that Google has removed 22 apps from the Android market in the past several days because they were bundled with malware. San Francisco security firm Lookout Software claimed that the malware in these apps is called RuFraud, and it essentially send dummy SMS messages to create financial benefit for the malware makers.
Not to waste the opportunity, Microsoft’s Windows Phone evangelist Ben Rudolph immediately jumped on twitter and created an instant promotion. The tweets read as follows:
Windows Phone (especially after Windows Phone 7.5 Mango released) has been universally praised for its elegance, simplicity and beauty. The problem for Microsoft is that iOS first, and Android now, have created a certain impression of a smartphone in the minds of consumers. While Android in some ways is a clone of iOS with grids and pages of app icons, Windows Phone is very unique in its approach of Live Tiles and Hubs. It has proven difficult for Microsoft to get this message across easily, and as a result the sales have been dismal.
Promotions like this help in not only getting these devices in the hands of folks using competing platforms, but also creating a buzz around the promotion itself. Note that Ben had earlier run a similar promotion for users of Blackberry affected by a long downtime of Blackberry services. At the time, he had said he received over 1,500 responses!
This is a very good and opportunistic move by Ben. It assures him the attention of disgruntled users who will be more open to switching, and in return they get a free phone too! That makes it an absolute win-win situation!
Late last night, Google released its Flipboard like competitor for Android and iOS devices, known as Currents. The Currents app from the big G will allow users to discover new content in a new magazine like UI, all at the swipe of a finger.
Websites, media houses and magazines need to make sure that they optimize their site for Google Currents. Like all other recent Google services, Google Currents in also integrated with the Google+. Sadly, the app is only available for Android users in the United States.
Below is a video of Google Currents in action-:
In other Android related news, the official Twitter app for Android also got a major update. The whole UI has been totally redesigned in this new update, and looks much better. Probably the best looking Twitter client in the Android Market right now. However, the blue bar at the top of the app does not really have any use, and is simply wasting some previous screen estate.
The whole UI is mainly white and blue in color, which may not please all the Android owners with an AMOLED screen. The Twitter app for iOS and the web version has also been redesigned with a similar UI. The new update is already live on the Android Market, and can be downloaded from here.
Now you can permanently remove Adobe AIR from your system and still use TweetDeck on Windows and MAC computers. Twitter, after unveiling a completely re-designed interface has pushed major upgrades on TweetDeck’s arsenal. A native TweetDeck client for Windows and MAC is available for free download, while you can use TweetDeck’s web interface at web.tweetdeck.com
Tweetdeck’s web UI (which was earlier available as a Chrome extension) now has a permanent web address, so in case you want to catch up on updates from your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare accounts on a web browser, TweetDeck’s web UI is for you.
No need to install anything, simply sign in with your TweetDeck account and that will be all.
The native desktop client of TweetDeck for Windows is a complete mirror copy of TweetDeck’s web interface, just see it to believe it:
The idea here is to provide an exactly same interface everywhere, whether you’re using the Adobe AIR application, the native desktop client or the web version of TweetDeck. However, the native client has a couple of shortcomings, which makes it less attractive that its Adobe Air counterpart:
No single column view is supported on the native TweetDeck client for Windows and MAC and neither the single column view is accessible from the web interface. You have to remove all the columns one by one and then resize the client window. Bad, real bad!
Very few settings and controls, no way to position notification windows and neither you can turn off the notification sound. Desktop alerts of mentions and direct messages might be distracting, if they arrive too frequently.
No ability to choose advanced options for specific columns. All the columns get the same notification settings, so I will not be using Twitter lists on the web version of TweetDeck and overwhelm myself with a storm of updates every nanosecond.
Both the clients run well without Adobe AIR but memory consumption is fairly high in the Windows desktop client of TweetDeck. This just doesn’t make any sense, the Adobe AIR client consumes around 62 K while the Non Adobe Air one consumes 52 K of memory alone?
Comparatively, the web UI of TweetDeck consumes a lot less memory
Is This A Downgrade?
The new clients removed features which are useful, I use them every single day. On one hand Twitter is removing TweetDeck’s core features, while on the other; they have nothing new to offer in their so called desktop clientsand web user interface. TweetDeck was acquired by Twitter on May 2011 for $40 Billion and the Adobe AIR app has not been updated ever since.
Google Buzz has closed shop but the Adobe AIR app is crying for an update.
Both apps hog down system memory like anything but at the end of the day, I will be sticking to the Adobe AIR app. Unless they kill it already.
The Spartan form of Twitter’s old web UI was killed back in June 2011 and now, Twitter is all set to push another major redesign in coming weeks. Twitter’s new design is coherent with the re-design of their official Android app, the new web UI of TweetDeck and the native TweetDeck installer for Windows and MAC that runs without Adobe AIR.
Something is up!
The new version of Twitter’s web UI is not available to everyone yet, but here are a few screenshots for you to enjoy.
Direct Messages in the revised version of Twitter are a lot simpler, follows a top to bottom nested flow but Twitter is shying to show the inbox folder in its main navigation. Notifications for new messages has finally arrived but I am really disappointed to see the DM link being hidden under a drop down menu.
Nevertheless, direct messages in the new Twitter continue to work like before, no group DM’s though.
The timeline is where all the fun begins.
Photos, videos and other media elements will now be embedded right within the timeline, unlike now, where you have to click the slide to right link, in order to view the embedded media. This is in some ways better than the current design but in case you are following a large number of tweeples, you will have to practice faster scrolling.
I like the retweet count and favorite count feature added right in the bottom of a tweet, which is a quick way to find out popular retweets within your timeline, without having to visit the link in a new tab. Twitter has swapped left and right columns, the compose window is not The center of attractionanymore.
The new Connectsection is where you get in on the conversation. It is a new dedicated page where you can find out who has followed or mentioned you, retweeted or favorited one of your Tweets. So that explains why Twitter was busy experimenting with an activity feed for the last couple of months.
Search is being taken very seriously in the newer version of Twitter, which is yet to be enabled for my profile. I haven’t used the new Twitter search yet, so can’t comment on how precise and accurate the results are. But from the screenshots below, it appears that Twitter wants to be more like a meme with its #Discover page, organizing all the hottest links, retweets, favorites and relevant tweets right into your doorsteps. Hashtags, that match closely with your search query is embedded within the timeline while relevant photos and videos are showcased as and when they become available. In real time!
Importing contacts from your email account is still available under the Find Friendssection. Not to forget the Who to Followfeature which scans your Twitter following and suggests profiles you should follow or may want to engage with.
Once Upon A Time, Twitter Was Simple.
So damn simple that when I created my account three years back, I confused it with a big chat room where people can send an IM message to anyone. Twitter has been following the KISS philosophyfor years. No mumbo jumbo features, no friend requests, no chats, nothing. Plain broadcasting!
I loved it then, still do and I am sure I will be loving the new Twitter even more. But the bigger concern is Is Twitter drifting towards complexity? Is this the first step towards Lets make it attractive so that more users hop over it right away?
I guess so, and there is no harm in making the cover attractive. Well played Twitter, well played.