New Twitter Feature Separates Replies and Non-replies for Verified Accounts

Twitter has come up with an interesting solution that will simplify and ease the way of reading a user’s tweets. The new feature provides an option to separate the @ replies and non-replies in the Twitter timeline.

For instance, you visit a Twitter user’s profile and notice that the user has sent more @ replies than his/her original tweets. This not only buries the original and non-replied tweets, but also makes it difficult to dig them out. In order to separate the two, Twitter will be rolling out the “All” and “No Replies” link buttons, which will be placed right above the timeline. However, this will be available to only those accounts that are verified and have the verified Twitter badge.

This simplified profile, which we’re rolling out to verified accounts over the coming weeks, makes it easier to understand what kind of content the user shares on Twitter, and what Tweets you’ll see if you follow them.

New Twitter Feature - Filter Out @ Replies

To view only the original tweets from a verified Twitter user, you can simply click on the “No replies” button link. This will filter out all the conversation and @ replies, and displays only the original tweets from the user.

In a blog post, Twitter gives @bubbawatson, @NASCAR and @Pepsi as examples to explain how the feature exactly works. Once the feature is out, it will be enabled by default, with an option to see “all” tweets including @ replies with a link button shown above the timeline.

The feature is quite helpful to followers of popular Twitter users and celebrities. It will easily help followers to read the original tweets of their favourite Twitter accounts without having to splash through various mentions and replies to other tweets. Sometimes, that becomes more like a burden unless you’re from a spy agency who wants to read all the tweets of a user ;)

Nevertheless, this is a great feature and we hope that Twitter will enable this feature to all its users, which is very unlikely.

[via] [source]

Twitter Enables Do Not Track Support

When on one hand Facebook is finding ways to track its users and is gathering their personal information aggressively, Twitter is going the opposite direction with a Do Not Track feature that will let users opt out of cookies that gather personal information. The personal data collected from users is used to display relevant advertisements.

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Twitter was in news a few days ago, over a privacy related case, where a court wanted it to hand over the user’s private tweets and Twitter stood up for the First Amendment right of the charged victim. With these two privacy protection incidents, Twitter is setting a new code of conduct for companies that hold massive amounts of user data, and it is a good sign.

Twitter has had a hard time monetizing the vast microblogging empire it has set up, and it has only been two years that Twitter is getting some juice out of its machinery. With ethical acts like this, Twitter has proven time and again that it has its priorities set right, and that users and their privacy comes first.

With privacy becoming a concern, more and more people are getting aware of tracking and user-data-collection policies. All modern browsers have extensions to prevent gathering of personal information and most of them also support the Do Not Track header now. If you are wary of user tracking and want to protect your personal information, you can block tracking scripts using the NoScript Firefox add-on or the Disconnect Google Chrome extension.

(Via: Ars Technica)

Twitter Blocked In Pakistan Over “Blasphemous Material” Of Prophet Muhammad

Update: The Twitter ban in Pakistan has now been lifted, after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mr. Gilani Ordered to lift the ban. Original story follows

Exactly after two years, Pakistan Government authorities have yet again blocked access to micro blogging site Twitter.com on the issue of “blasphemous images” of Prophet Muhammad, reports the Express tribune. This is confirmed through a video clip on Zemtv.com’s YouTube channel, a local Television reporting agency. The video has been embedded below:

Ironically, Pakistan’s interior minister Mr. Rehman malik tweeted this morning that social sites such as Twitter and Facebook will continue to operate in Pakistan and they will not be blocked. He stressed that all such reports are nothing but rumors but the fact is that hours after he posted his tweet, Twitter has become inaccessible from several parts of Pakistan.

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The alleged material was promoting a competition to post “blasphemous” images of Prophet Muhammad on Facebook and Twitter. This is the second time Twitter has been blocked in Pakistan (after Facebook and YouTube) and what surprises me even more is that the issue remains all the very same – religious sentiments. This reminds me of the death warrant case against Facebook founder Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, when he was investigated for the highly controversial “Everybody Draw Muhammad” page on Facebook (now taken down).

“We have been negotiating with them until last night, but they did not agree to remove the stuff, so we had to block it.”,  said Mr Yaseen, Pakistan’s Minister of Information technology. “The ministry officials are still trying to make them (Twitter) agree, and once they remove that stuff, the site will be unblocked”, he added.

India, the neighboring country, is also prone to religious and political chaos and we have a couple of examples to consider. Quite recently, the Indian Government imposed a partial censorship on all BlogSpot blogs, after Google and other Internet companies were asked to remove objectionable content followed by a court order. I don’t think imposing bans or passing censorship laws helps in the long run. People who want to defame someone, will find alternative means, you block it and they will find another vehicle – this cycle goes on infinitely. The internet is an “open playground”; without any so called “boundaries” and everyone is just another player in this ever expanding game.

If you’re reading this from Pakistan and you can’t access Twitter, Facebook or other social networking sites, please read our guide on accessing blocked sites.

Massive Dump of Twitter Passwords Appears on Pastebin

Hours after Twitter announced its plan to support one of its users in a court case, and thereby, stand up for the larger cause of online privacy and protection of the First Amendment’s free speech, a massive dox of Twitter accounts appeared on Pastebin. The dump contains nearly 55,000 usernames and passwords. However, it was also found later that many of these login credentials were redundant and some others did not match with any account.

In conversation with CNET, Twitter spokesperson Robert Weeks said,twitter-logo

We are currently looking into the situation. In the meantime, we have pushed out password resets to accounts that may have been affected. For those who are concerned that their account may have been compromised, we suggest resetting your passwords and more in our Help Center.

Twitter has also found that nearly 20,000 of the accounts in the list of 55,000+ were duplicates, and many others did not match as proper login credentials. Though, it was good to see that Twitter took care to force password resets for users whose accounts appeared on that list.

At the moment, it is unclear who carried out this hack and why. The Pastebin page containing the hacked accounts can be found here. However, there might be a relation between Twitter’s announcement to stand up for one of its users in a court case and this hack. Until now, Pastebin has been used by Anonymous for releasing doxes, but a drum roll usually accompanies it.

Twitter Refuses to Hand over Personal Data of a User to the Court

With Cybersecuritry bills like CISPA floating around waiting to be passed, and its parents like SOPA and PIPA defeated, people are more aware than ever about privacy and online security concerns. This is a good time to redefine the handling of some matters, and Twitter has gone a step forward by taking its privacy policy seriously. Recently, Twitter has taken a bold step by standing up for one of its users, who took part in the Occupy Wall Street protests. The Occupy Wall Street protests saw heavy use of social media, and the Twitter user in question, Malcolm Harris, is being prosecuted for ‘disorderly conduct’ in relation to the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Federal agencies and governments ask for a user’s online personal information too often nowadays, and they have aggravated their strategy for obtaining this information. Oftentimes, the user is totally unaware of a data request of this nature, and has no chance of reacting to such a request on time. Though, in some other cases, even after knowing this problem, the user is tied up in further legal constraints.

Indeed, even though Twitter provided notice to the Twitter user in this particular case, and even though he was able to get an attorney to file a motion seeking to quash the subpoena, the court found that the Twitter user did not have legal “standing” to challenge the D.A.’s subpoena.

This support shows clearly that Twitter stands for what it believes in, even if it is for one user. The First Amendment has been challenged numerous times, and with every passed challenge, it gets refined and defined better.

Starting Today Your Not-So Smartphones Too Can Enjoy Twitter

Twitter is one of the leading social networks and unlike Facebook a much cleaner media to interact. You can find almost every soul you ever wished to follow. The minimalist interface and the 140 words keeps sharing simple and more engaging. The native clients for Android and iOS platforms has been great to keep up with the main web interface. Although, until today, the web interface that is still being used by a lot of cellphone users who don’t own an Android/iOS mobile was a step behind. Twitter has finally responded and rolled out the new spiffy mobile web interface which resembles the smartphone iterations. Let’s take a quick look.

Twitter for Android Vs Twitter Mobile Web

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Home: The home screen looks the exact same on both the interface and also similar in how it works . Long pressing or swipe any update gives you choices(reply, retweet, favorite, profile and share) in the native client whereas on the web client for mobile you need a swipe to do that. The “Pull down to refresh” also works on both.

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Connect: The Connect tab is a great way to track replies which also offers a quasi-similar interface on both with a little rearrangement of items. Functionality remains same for both.

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Discover: The most intriguing section about Twitter to keep a tab on the latest and greatest stories, finding people who matter and many more. The interfaces are an exact match and also the way they behave.

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Me: The features and interface remains same here too.

Overall(refer screenshots) the mobile interface seems to work the way it is meant to. Although the screenshots(on Twitter’s official announcement) refer that the top bar exists (and a refresh button is also there) I found it missing(refer screenshot below) while using Dolphin browser which means you may miss out on the search option. . The update button is still there and is clubbed into the top bar along with the other four major options. The elements on the profile viewing screen also remains the same on both the web and native clients. The web client is also quite low on bandwidth demands.

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The timing isn’t so great considering the competition. Facebook has a equally interesting (and Android/iOS equivalent) mobile web interface for a long time now (and perhaps the best way to avoid the app nuisance ). Nonetheless the new interface is an adaptation much awaited.

Twitter Lights Up the Path for a Better World of Patents

Twitter has revealed its plan to introduce fairness in the world of patents and is making the first move with a draft of the “Innovator’s Patent Agreement” or the IPA. Twitter holds a bunch of patents and wants to make sure that the actual innovator who worked on the patented technology has a say in lawsuits involving the patent.

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Adam Messinger, VP of Engineering Adam Messinger, VP of Engineering at Twitter writes on the official Twitter blog, saying,

The IPA is a new way to do patent assignment that keeps control in the hands of engineers and designers. It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees’ inventions in offensive litigation without their permission.

Twitter dreams of a world where innovation is not hampered by patent trolls. It dreams of a world with proper use of patents. According to the IPA, the innovator’s rights to a patent remain even after they are sold to a third party. This ensures patents are not misused by trolls and this is a significant improvement over the current disoriented world of patents. However, one important pint to remember here, is that the ownership of the patent still lies with the patent owner, and the inventors are only a part of the decision making process, in case of disputes.

Twitter is undoubtedly being a trendsetter in this case. However, for this model to gain a respectable amount of acceptance, more companies should embrace it.

Twitter Attempts to Shut Down Spammers, Spam Tools

Everybody is tired of Twitter spam. That includes Twitter as well. With spammers increasing day-by-day on Twitter, the micro blogging service has finally decided to take tough actions against spammers by bringing down their tools which are used to send spam tweets across the network.

The micro blogging site on Thursday filed a case against spammers to a US federal court in its latest effort to stop spammers from misusing the worldwide one-to-many text messaging service. The company has sued five spammers that make spam tools in an attempt to stop spam tweets.

“By shutting down tool providers, we will prevent other spammers from having these services at their disposal. Further, we hope the suit acts as a deterrent to other spammers, demonstrating the strength of our commitment to keep them off Twitter,” Twitter wrote in a blog post.

Twitter Anti-Spam Lawsuit

The suit names five culprits: TweetAttacks, TweetAdder, TweetBuddy, James Lucero and Garland Harris, which are to be claimed as the biggest crooks behind the Twitter spam. The company also argues that they are the ones who fill the service with fake profiles and unwanted @ messages.

This is perhaps a good move by Twitter. By shutting down these tools, it will prevent spammers from bombarding the site with spam messages. Also, this suit will act as a warning to other spammers and prevent them from going ahead and spam the network.

According to Twitter, it is said that the site is growing at a record pace, with 140 million active users and more than 340 million text messages, or “tweets,” are sent daily. However, Twitter claims that the spam tweets are a small fraction of the “incredible” content that can be found on the site, yet it is trying to eradicate the small fraction of spam tweets in order to provide a spam-free service.

Twitter already has an algorithmic solution that helps in scanning for behavioral cues. The solution also helps in identifying those tweets that are sent by spam-bots. Earlier in January, Twitter acquired the security firm Dasient, a company that leads in the prevention of “malvertising.” For example, earlier this week, Twitter introduced new anti-spam measures within the site to identify and suspend a new type of @ mention spam. Additionally, the site now uses link shortener tool (t.co) to analyze whether a tweeted link leads to malware or malicious content. This way, Twitter can help prevent its users from visiting any malicious links.

For the time being, we will see no Viagra ads, virus-ridden links, or fake offers and discounts on gadgets. Peace.

[Update: Facebook Too] Bing Testing In-line Twitter Trends, Influencing Results?

In September last year Bing and Twitter renewed their relationship with some weird twitter exchanges. Not much was known at that time and we’ve been hoping that Bing will help searching for tweets. As it turns out, Bing has some different plans. Microsoft has tried real-time social updates from Twitter being shown on Bing in the past. I use Bing as my default search engine and when I searched for Pepsi Next, I noticed a small note below the first search result:

Bing not only tells me that a particular story is trending on twitter but also how many shares in the past few hours. This is deep meta data information for a search engine in real-time. My guess is, the number of shares on twitter are also influencing the placement of a link in search result. The Ad Age article most likely has more shares than the rest of the articles.

It makes a lot of sense for a search engine to weigh links based on Twitter interaction since Facebook isn’t exactly known for rapid, real-time link sharing. Facebook’s integration in Bing is more to do with social relevance, while Twitter is more to do with current relevance—a smart approach.

Update: Romit Mehta tells me that this has been around since October 2011. Funny I never noticed it, perhaps I don’t search for topics that trend on Twitter.

Update #2: It looks like the Bing team is now bringing in Facebook share numbers in the mix too. Screenshot: