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  1. Twitter is testing ephemeral tweets in Brazil and calling them ‘fleets’ Snapchat Stories finally arrive on Twitter Since it was founded in March 2006, there has been only one type of post possible on Twitter: a tweet. But starting today, the 280-character post is being joined by an ephemeral South American cousin: the fleet. That’s what Twitter is calling these new, more fleeting tweets — posts that appear in a separate timeline above the main timeline for 24 hours before disappearing. In other words, yes, Twitter is finally doing Snapchat Stories, and the implementation looks nearly identical to Instagram’s version of the feature. “Twitter is for having conversations about what you care about,” Mo Aladham, a Twitter group product manager, said in a blog post. “But, some of you tell us that you’re uncomfortable to tweet because tweets are public, feel permanent, and have public counts (retweets and likes). We want to make it possible for you to have conversations in new ways with less pressure and more control, beyond tweets and direct messages. That’s why starting today in Brazil, we’re testing fleets, a new way to start conversations from your fleeting thoughts.” To create a fleet, you’ll tap a plus button that appears on a new home row of ephemeral posts on top of your home timeline. From there, you can type up to 280 characters of text or add photos, GIFs, or videos. Once you hit post, your fleet will appear in a lightly ranked side-scrolling row of posts. Fleets from people you follow and who follow you back will appear first, with the most recently posted visible first. From there, you’ll see posts from other accounts that you follow. You cannot like or retweet a fleet. You can respond to fleets with reaction emoji similar to those that were recently introduced in direct messages. You can also respond with text, which will open up a DM with the person you’re messaging. Fleets, like stories everywhere, disappear after 24 hours. Twitter has reportedly been working on ephemeral posts for more than a year. In October, the company’s head of product, Kayvon Beykpour, told The Verge that he was interested in exploring the concept: I view that as another dimension that is really important for some customers: for some specific set of circumstances where you want to talk to people, but you’re not quite sure you want it to last forever yet. And so I think as a dimension to focus on, as a specific customer problem, absolutely, I’m very interested in exploring how we might give customers more control. Dorky as the name may be, fleets represent an opportunity for Twitter to gain some of the ground it has lost to Instagram, Snapchat, and other social platforms over the years as ephemeral messaging has become more popular. It’s not just that the tweets will disappear automatically (although that helps); it’s that stories seem to encourage a different kind of sharing — more disposable, more casual, more intimate. The main feed is for polished public performance, and stories are more about idle chitchat. At least, that’s how it has played out elsewhere. Twitter will surely bring its own wrinkles to the format, assuming that fleets roll out more broadly. I assume they will. Fleets are currently being tested internally among employees in addition to the test in Brazil. And last month, Twitter brought Chroma Labs, a seven-person startup founded by former Facebook and Instagram employees that make a tool for creating ephemeral stories. Anyway, fleets! This is real life. Source: Twitter is testing ephemeral tweets in Brazil and calling them ‘fleets’ (The Verge)
  2. How to delete Twitter’s storage cache from your iPhone Because every MB is precious Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge Whether you’ve got an older iPhone with less internal storage or would rather save that space for music, photos, and other content, it’s always good practice to clear the data cache from various apps to make room for what you really need on your phone. Twitter currently lets iOS users do this directly from the app, which helps to prevent your iPhone from becoming bloated with preloaded videos, GIFs, and memes you don’t necessarily need to see immediately. Here’s how to wipe out your data cache and make up some extra storage space. First, open up the Twitter mobile app, and tap your profile’s avatar in the upper-left corner. This will bring out the left-hand drawer. You can also swipe to the right anywhere on your Twitter stream if you do not see your avatar on the top corner. Tap “Settings and privacy” Under the “General” category, tap “Data usage” Beneath the “Storage” subhead, you’ll see how much space your Twitter app has been using to cache web and media data To clear them, tap each one then select “Clear media storage” and / or “Clear web storage” to save some space You can choose to only clear one instead of both if you’re not super pressed for storage or just want to clear the cache that’s taking up a lot more space. To limit data usage by the Twitter app, in general, you can also toggle on “Data saver” from the same “Data usage” menu. This will disable autoplaying videos and display lower-quality images. Instead, to play a video, you’ll have to manually tap the preview image. Even with “Data saver” turned on, it’s still a good idea to clear the cache every so often if you’re worried about the Twitter app taking up precious storage space on your phone. There’s no way to schedule it to automatically clear the caches just yet, so for now, you’ll have to remind yourself to manually empty them regularly. Source: How to delete Twitter’s storage cache from your iPhone (The Verge)
  3. Elon Musk lended public support to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey who’s being pressured to step down by an activist investor. “Just want to say that I support @Jack as Twitter CEO. He has a good heart,” Musk tweeted, using a heart emoji because that’s how middle-aged billionaires communicate. Jack Dorsey On Friday it was reported that Paul Singer, the billionaire founder of Elliott Management, took a stake in Twitter with the intent of making a number of changes at the micro-blogging platform. Elliott has a more than $1 billion stake in Twitter, according to CNBC, and has nominated four new board members. Bloomberg reports that Twitter executives met with representatives from Elliott Management for the first time last week. Dorsey was absent, even though he was the main topic of conversation. One change Elliott hopes to make is the removal of Dorsey, who’s been accused of being inattentive to Twitter’s earnings potential as he splits his time as CEO of Square where 85 percent of his wealth resides. The Twitter / Square CEO has also been criticized for moving too slowly, with a preference for talking instead of doing. Dorsey hasn’t helped himself by saying he’d like to temporarily move to Africa this year. Dorsey’s return as CEO of Twitter in July 2015 was met with advice from Elon Musk. “I wouldn’t recommend running two companies,” said the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. Twitter shares have since fallen 6.2 percent, while Facebook’s have gained more than 121 percent, according to Bloomberg. Musk and Dorsey were last seen bromancing each other at a company meeting in January, where Musk was projected onto a giant screen in front of thousands of Twitter employees. “If you were running Twitter,“ Dorsey asked, “what would you do?” Musk’s response was get rid of the bots. Others want to get rid of the CEO, which just might happen. Source
  4. Twitter has announced that employees are encouraged to work from home in an effort to stop the spread of a novel coronavirus that has infected at least 105 people in 15 states and killed six people in the U.S. The San Francisco-based social media company is believed to be the first major U.S. firm to announce a work-from-home policy as companies around the world enact new plans to fight COVID-19. Shelves where disinfectant wipes are usually displayed at a Target store on March 2, 2020 in Novato, California in the Bay Area. “Beginning today, we are strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they’re able. Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us—and the world around us,” Twitter said in a statement posted to the company’s website. “We are operating out of an abundance of caution and the utmost dedication to keeping our Tweeps healthy.” There have been no reports of any Twitter employees contracting the virus, but with over 4,800 employees worldwide, the company clearly doesn’t want to take any chances. As of Tuesday morning, the coronavirus pandemic has reached at least 67 countries, sickened over 91,000 people worldwide, and killed at least 3,118. Twitter cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey, who has recently come under fire from activist investors who want him to step down, recently cancelled his appearance at this year’s South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas over concerns about the coronavirus outbreaks. South by Southwest is still scheduled to start on Friday, March 13 and will not be cancelled, despite a petition to do exactly that, according to the Austin American-Statesman. While Twitter is encouraging people to work from home, it’s also allowing employees in some countries to continue traveling into the office if they like. Working from home is already mandatory for Twitter employees in Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea due to government restrictions. “We are working to make sure internal meetings, all hands, and other important tasks are optimized for remote participation,” Twitter said. “We recognize that working from home is not ideal for some job functions. For those employees who prefer or need to come into the offices, they will remain open for business.” Hong Kong has 100 cases and two deaths, while Japan has 274 cases and 6 deaths, not including the passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise that was, until recently, docked in Yokohama. At least 706 of the roughly 3,700 people on board contracted the virus and six have died. South Korea has also been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with 374 new cases on Tuesday alone, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 5,186. South Korea’s government, which has declared a “war” on the virus, announced on Tuesday that the country has 28 deaths so far, according to Yonhap News. Twitter added that it’s “deep cleaning and sanitizing” its buildings and is installing visual reminders on personal hygiene and food safety. And it’s unlikely that this will be the first U.S.-based company to encourage employees to stay home. “While this is a big change for us, we have already been moving towards a more distributed workforce that’s increasingly remote,” Twitter said in a statement. “We’re a global service and we’re committed to enabling anyone, anywhere to work at Twitter.” Source
  5. Billionaire Paul Singer, founder of Elliott Management, wants to take over. Paul Singer, the billionaire founder of the activist fund Elliott Management, is preparing a plan to try to replace Jack Dorsey as CEO of Twitter, according to a report Friday by Bloomberg. Elliott, based in New York, has nominated four directors to Twitter's board and also seeks to make other changes at the company, Bloomberg said. According to the report, Elliott has a "sizable" stake in Twitter, but the exact size of the stake is unclear. Twitter declined to comment. Elliott Management didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. One reason Elliott is pushing for the takeover is because Dorsey's time is split between running two public companies, Twitter and the payments firm Square, according to CNBC, which also reported the news. Dorsey's desire to spend up to six months in Africa this year is also a concern for Elliott, the report said. The news comes at a challenging time for Twitter, as the social network tries to deal with election disinformation, abuse and other problems with the platform. Twitter's stock rose more than 7% in after-hours trading. Source
  6. How to deactivate your Twitter account You don’t need to keep doing this There’s no questioning the benefits of Twitter. It’s a convenient way to get your memes, world news, and pop culture hot takes all in one place. But being an active Twitter user requires sifting through a daily deluge of toxic characters, including white supremacists, bots, deepfakes, the president of the United States, and more. Plus, there’s no denying the stress and anxiety that the fast pace of Twitter’s news cycle, and the strain of constantly debating reply guys, can bring. Hear me out on this: you don’t actually have to use Twitter. I know it seems like everyone else is using it, but you can be the change you want to see in the world. You can just delete your account. Don’t worry: it doesn’t have to be permanent. If you find yourself feeling empty and directionless after doing this, you can get your account back up to 30 days after the fact. But if it ever gets to be too much again, just come back to this article and follow the steps. There’s a whole world outside of your timeline to explore. Deactivate your Twitter account in a browser If you’re on a computer or in a mobile browser, go to Twitter.com and log in to your account. To deactivate: On the web, click the “More” item on the bottom-left of the screen. On the mobile browser, tap your profile icon. Select “Settings and Privacy” and then “Account” At the bottom of the list, tap “Deactivate your account” You’ll see a screen informing you that doing this will, in fact, deactivate your account. Ignore it, and press “Deactivate” again at the bottom. Deactivate your Twitter account in the Twitter app If you’re using a smartphone, go to the Twitter app and make sure you’re logged in. Tap your profile icon in the top-left corner. A menu will pop out from the side. Tap “Settings and privacy” on the bottom. Tap “Account” at the top. In the account settings page, select “Deactivate your account” at the bottom. A few things to note: To reiterate: your account won’t be permanently gone after this process. Twitter retains your information for 30 days before deleting it permanently. To restore your account, just log back in. If you plan to create a new Twitter account with the same username and email address as the account you’re deactivating, switch the current account to a different username and email address before you deactivate If you want to download your Twitter data, do that before deactivating. Twitter can’t send data from inactive accounts. Google and other search engines cache results, meaning your old profile and tweets may still pop up in response to search queries on occasion. However, anyone who clicks them will get an error message. Deactivating your account can be a hassle, but to Twitter’s credit, it’s much more straightforward than the process of deleting some other services, such as Uber and Lyft. But where will I get my news and memes now? So Twitter is gone from your life. Congratulations! But what will you do now that you don’t have a never-ending barrage of tweets to scroll through? Here are some other things to try with your newfound free time. Mastodon. Mastodon is a decentralized version of Twitter that journalists have praised as “Twitter without Nazis.” Rather than one giant hot mess of a website, you log in to different “instances” of Mastodon, which are communities with varying purposes and themes. Instead of tweets, you post “toots,” and they have a 500-character limit. There’s also a built-in content warning feature. Reddit. There are certainly some toxic places on Reddit, but unlike Twitter, you’re not forced to pay attention to them. You can follow and subscribe to subreddits about anything that strikes your interest, from Star Trek to Furbies. Each subreddit has a clear set of rules, and they’re usually enforced. And if you get tired of a subreddit, you can leave it without leaving the website. Tumblr. Tumblr is similar to Twitter in many ways, but it has a couple of key differences. For one, follower counts aren’t public, so certain members aren’t privileged over others in discussions or debates because of their audience’s size. Replies to other people’s posts don’t show up on your feed, so you don’t have to watch other users’ arguments devolve. And there’s no character limit, so you can add some nuance to the opinions you post. Facebook. Yes, there are a lot of horrible, terrible, no good, very bad things about Facebook. But if you miss the ability to keep up with family and friends with Twitter, you can do that on Facebook, too. You won’t be constrained by the character limit, and you won’t have to worry about anyone outside of your friends list seeing your content. Newspapers. This might shock you, but plenty of media companies still sell physical newspapers and magazines. You can pick them up at newsstands, bookstores, coffee shops, and even have them delivered right to your mailbox if you buy a subscription. Rather than being bombarded all day, you’ll get your news in a digestible chunk each morning. The best part: you’ll look cool and sophisticated to everyone around you. Just go to The Verge. Don’t worry. We’re always here for you. Source: How to deactivate your Twitter account (The Verge)
  7. MOSCOW (AP) — A court in Moscow fined Twitter and Facebook 4 million rubles each Thursday for refusing to store the personal data of Russian citizens on servers in Russia, the largest penalties imposed on Western technology companies under internet use laws. The fines of nearly $63,000 are the first five-figure fines levied on tech companies since Russia adopted a flurry of legislation starting in 2012 designed to tighten the government’s grip on online activity. One provision required tech companies to keep servers in Russia for storing personal information they gather from Russian citizens. Russia’s internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, has tried unsuccessfully for several years to force large companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to move Russian user data to Russia. Commenting on Thursday’s court rulings, Roskomnadzor said Twitter and Facebook would be fined 18 million rubles ($283,000) each if they don’t comply this year. Last year, Twitter and Facebook were fined the equivalent of $47 each for violating the same personal data regulation. The punishment had no effect on the two companies, so in December Russian authorities increased the fines. The law allows online services that don’t follow the data storage requirement to be banned from Russia. Only the LinkedIn social network has been blocked so far. It is widely understood that blocking Facebook or Google would elicit too much public outrage for authorities to take the step. Source
  8. Facebook's Twitter and Instagram accounts hacked, 'OurMine' claims responsibility Facebook’s Twitter and Instagram handles were compromised earlier today, as tweets and posts began showing up that said: “Well, even Facebook is hackable but at least their security better than Twitter”. A group called OurMine claimed responsibility for the hack, which reportedly was also responsible for the NFL’s Twitter account hack last month. The hackers began posting tweets from Facebook and Messenger accounts, which were constantly being deleted by the company (as seen in Jane Manchun Wong’s tweet here). The accounts were compromised for about 30 minutes, after which they were locked. Twitter confirmed in a statement to some journalists that the accounts were indeed compromised and that it was working with Facebook to restore the accounts: As soon as we were made aware of the issue, we locked the compromised accounts and are working closely with our partners at Facebook to restore them. Facebook later posted in a tweet that it had “secured and restored” access. Interestingly, the hackers seem to have had taken control of Facebook and Messenger Instagram handles (spotted by The Verge). Though the hackers claimed that “Facebook” was hackable, it wasn’t Facebook that was hacked, but its social media accounts alone, such as Twitter and Instagram. The tweets by 'OurMine' were posted from 'Khoros', a third-party service that helps its customers interact with and post on social media – including Instagram and Twitter. From the tweets, it looks like the hackers were promoting their security services and did not seem to have any malicious intent. Source: Facebook's Twitter and Instagram accounts hacked, 'OurMine' claims responsibility (Neowin)
  9. Twitter reports revenue over $1 billion for the first time in Q4 2019 Twitter has released its financials for the fourth quarter of 2019. It reported total revenue to be $1.01 billion in Q4 which was in the high-end region of its guidance range. It said this is the first time that it has delivered $1 billion in quarterly revenues. It said the United States made up $591 million of the revenue, an increase of 17% compared to the year before; this was driven by a 20% growth in U.S. advertising revenue. Commenting on the results, Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, said: “2019 was a great year for Twitter. Our work to increase relevance and ease of use delivered 21% mDAU [(monetizable Daily Active Usage)] growth in Q4, with more than half of the 26 million mDAU added in 2019 directly driven by product improvements. Entering 2020, we are building on our momentum – learning faster, prioritizing better, shipping more and hiring remarkable talent. All of which put us in a stronger position as we address the challenges and opportunities ahead.” With the fourth-quarter results in, Twitter was able to reveal that the firm’s revenue for the whole year was $3.46 billion which represents a 14% increase year-over-year. While it may seem like a lot, costs and expenses still need factoring in. The yearly costs and expenses totalled $3.09 billion (+19% year-over-year) which left an operating income of $366 million and an 11% operating margin. This year, the company said that it has four main objectives to drive its work, these are: Increasing development velocity and trust Increasing healthy public conversation Increasing revenue durability Enabling anyone, anywhere to work at Twitter To achieve these goals, the firm wants to increase its workforce by 20% or more this year, especially in engineering, product, design, and research roles. This growth, and previous investment decisions, will see costs and expenses grow by 20% in 2020. One such investment will see it build a new data centre this year which will add capacity “to support audience and revenue growth”. On the back of these financials, Twitter's share price rose from the $33 range to around $39. Source: Twitter reports revenue over $1 billion for the first time in Q4 2019 (Neowin)
  10. Twitter discloses security incident involving the abuse of one of its official API features. In a statement published today, Twitter disclosed a security incident during which third-parties exploited the company's official API (Application Programming Interface) to match phone numbers with Twitter usernames. In an email seeking clarifications about the incident, Twitter told ZDNet that they became aware of exploitation attempts against this API feature on December 24, 2019, following a report from tech news site TechCrunch. The report detailed the efforts of a security researcher who abused a Twitter API feature to match 17 million phone numbers to public usernames. Twitter says that following this report it intervened and immediately suspended a large network of fake accounts that had been used to query its API and match phone numbers to Twitter usernames. During its investigation into the report, the social network told ZDNet that it also discovered additional evidence that this API bug had also been exploited by other third-parties, beyond the security researcher at the heart of the TechCrunch report. Twitter did not clarify who these third-parties were, but it did say that some of the IP addresses used in these API exploitation attempts had ties to state-sponsored actors, a term used to described either government intelligence agencies, or third-party hacking groups that benefit from a government's backing. The company said it is disclosing today the findings of its investigation "out of an abundance of caution and as a matter of principle." The Twitter API bug that was abused in the attack According to Twitter, the attackers exploited a legitimate API endpoint that allows new account holders to find people they know on Twitter. The API endpoint allows users to submit phone numbers and matches them to known Twitter accounts. Twitter says the attacks did not impact all Twitter users, but only those who enabled an option in their settings section to allow phone number-based matching. "People who did not have this setting enabled or do not have a phone number associated with their account were not exposed by this vulnerability," Twitter said. The social network said it immediately made a number of changes to this endpoint after it detected the attack "so that it could no longer return specific account names in response to queries." Source
  11. The financial news website came under fire for doxxing a Chinese scientist accused of being behind the virus. ZeroHedge has been permanently suspended from Twitter following a complaint stemming from an article that suggested a Chinese scientist was linked to the creation of the new coronavirus strain as a bioweapon. The financial markets news website was the subject of a recent Buzzfeed report which examined the article -- still online at the time of writing -- which connected a Wuhan-based scientist to the virus. ZeroHedge claimed, without evidence, that the scientist was involved in the development of the "weaponized" coronavirus strain. In addition, the publication doxxed the scientist by publishing his name, photograph, contact details, and the added comment, "Something tells us, if anyone wants to find out what really caused the coronavirus pandemic that has infected thousands of people in China and around the globe, they should probably pay [the scientist] a visit." ZeroHedge received a notification on Friday that the outlet's account would be suspended due to claims of violating Twitter's "rules against abuse and harassment." The microblogging platform confirmed the suspension, telling Reuters that ZeroHedge fell afoul of "platform manipulation policy." It was originally thought the suspension was due to a separate ZeroHedge article on the composition of the virus; however, the ban was due to the doxxing article. Before its suspension, the account catered for over 670,000 followers. Last week, Twitter said there have already been over 15 million tweets related to the coronavirus and while no "significant coordinated attempts to spread disinformation at scale about this issue" has been detected at present, the firm warned publishers that "those who engage in these practices will be removed from our service." Source
  12. You’ll still be able to use GIFs when you feel the need to share your favorite screencaps. Twitter will no longer animate PNG files after trolls hijacked the Epilepsy Foundation's handle and hashtags last month to send potentially seizure-inducing images to epileptic and photo-sensitive individuals. The company says it recently discovered a bug that had allowed people to add multiple animated images to a tweet and bypass Twitter's autoplay protections using the file format. That said, Twitter also says it isn't aware that anyone used APNG to try and trigger seizures; it just wants to avoid the possibility that people do so in the future. "We want everyone to have a safe experience on Twitter," the company said in a tweet. "APNGs were fun, but they don't respect autoplay settings, so we're removing the ability to add them to tweets. This is for the safety of people with sensitivity to motion and flashing imagery, including those with epilepsy." Twitter also said APNGs used up a lot of data, and could in some circumstances cause app crashes. To be clear: you'll still be able to add animated images to your tweets, you'll just need to fall back on GIFs. Since most people already use GIFs as their go-to for sharing clips and reactions, the update is unlikely to change how the majority use the platform. To make up for the loss of the added functionality that comes with APNGs, Twitter says it's working on adding alt-text to GIFs, which will help make them more accessible to people who depend on screen readers to navigate the internet. It's also looking into building a similar feature that's "better for you and your Twitter experience." The move probably won't make Twitter completely safe for photo-sensitive individuals since trolls have used GIFs in the past to try and harm people. However, the fact that APNGs were able to bypass the site's autoplay protections made them particularly susceptible to abuse. Update: This post and its headline have been updated to note Twitter says that it isn't aware of anyone misusing the APNG format to try and trigger seizures; it just wants to make sure no one does so going forward. Source
  13. On Tuesday, Twitter announced that it would soon be launching a purge of inactive users to free up choice usernames for others, potentially allowing users to claim sweet handles like @badguy, @vomit, @logoff, or @gillbates. Just one problem: Twitter forgot that some of those accounts may belong to people who are dead. In a tweet on Wednesday, Twitter Support acknowledged that this “was a miss on our part.” The company said that great inactive account purge would not be moving forward until they had created a feature to memorialize those users that have gone to that big posters’ paradise in the sky. Unlike competitor Facebook, Twitter currently has no way to memorialize an account belonging to a user who has died (on its website, the only option offered for an account belonging to the deceased or incapacitated is a process for an authorized family member or estate representative to request it be deactivated). So this seems more of an opportunity to introduce a new feature than a genuine screwup: You can now have your posts live on forever. After it sets up the memorialization feature, Twitter added, the purge will start with inactive accounts in European Union as part of an effort to comply with its sweeping General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) and other privacy laws. It’s not clear when will begin purging names from elsewhere, such as the states. Source
  14. Twitter now lets anyone hide replies to their tweets Earlier this year, Twitter began testing the ability to let users hide replies to their tweets, allowing users to have more control over the conversations they generate. Now, the social network has announced that, after a few months of testing with select users, the feature is available for everyone. Hiding replies lets users prevent conversations from getting derailed, be it by going off-topic or by generating hateful or otherwise negative discussions. Hidden tweets aren't visible at first glance, but users can still choose to see them by tapping the gray icon next to a hidden tweet. This ability may raise concerns that users, particularly organizations or political pages, can skew messages and conversations in their favor, but Twitter says that hasn't been happening much during the testing period. Twitter shared some more statistics, such as the fact that 85% of people hiding replies avoid using the block and mute features. Additionally, in Canada, 27% of users who had their replies hidden said that they would consider changing how they interact with others. Twitter is also considering feedback from people who might be scared to hide replies due to fear of retaliation in some way, but it didn't announce anything specific to address that. For now, the ability to hide replies is available to everyone using the Twitter app for Android or iOS, as well as the Twitter website, which is also the Progressive Web App for the platform. Source: Twitter now lets anyone hide replies to their tweets (Neowin)
  15. JAKARTA: Indonesia will meet social media companies to discuss its plans to impose fines of up to around US$36,000 (RM148,914) if they allow pornography, violence or other "negative" content on their platforms, a communications ministry official said. The South-East Asian country aims to push firms to better monitor and delete content the authorities deem obscene, Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, the ministry's director of information applications, said late Nov 5. He told Reuters the ministry would issue a regulation governing the mechanism for fines following discussions with the companies. The fines could go into effect in 2021. "The point of this is that control of content will no longer be the job of the government," Pangerapan said by telephone, adding that he would invite companies including Google Facebook and Twitter. Representatives of Twitter and Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment. At an earlier press conference, he said "negative" content could include pornography or radicalism, and fines could range from 100mil rupiah (RM29,500) to 500mil rupiah (RM147,504). The move comes amid wider regional efforts by South-East Asian governments to demand action from global tech giants on content regulation and tax policy. The stakes are high for governments, which are counting on the digital economy to drive growth amid domestic political tensions, and Internet companies, which view South-East Asia's social-media-loving population of 641 million as a key growth market. Indonesia is a top-five market globally for US tech giants Facebook and Twitter. Authorities have succeeded in getting social media companies Telegram and TikTok to establish content monitoring teams in Indonesia after briefly banning them over "negative content". Communications ministry officials told Reuters in August they were working on a "three-letter system," meaning that if a platform fails to respond to three government requests to engage on an issue, then it would be banned from Indonesia. Indonesia has already blocked more than 70,000 websites displaying "negative content" such as pornography or extremist ideology in 2018 using a so-called "crawling system" that automatically searches internet content and issues alerts when inappropriate material is found. The country's Internet economy is the largest and fastest-growing in the region, on track to cross the US$130bil (RM537.74bil) mark by 2025, according to a report by Google, Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings and global business consultants Bain & Company. Source: Indonesia to meet social media firms as it eyes ‘negative content’ fines (via The Star Online)
  16. The company is the last social network to suspend the groups. Over the weekend, Twitter suspended multiple accounts related to militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah, according to The Wall Street Journal. The move represents a reversal from Twitter's previous position on the two organizations. In the past, the company had said that it differentiated between the political and military arms of Hamas and Hezbollah, a stance that put Twitter at odds with other tech companies, including Facebook and Google, and effectively allowed the groups to continue using the platform. The company has yet to issue a statement on the takedown, though navigating to those accounts show they violated Twitter's terms of service. We've reached out to the company for further information, and we'll update this article when we hear back. It's likely Twitter suspended the accounts due to mounting pressure from lawmakers. In September, a bipartisan group of US House members sent the company (as well as Facebook and Google) a letter asking it to provide a timeline for when it would remove Hamas and Hezbollah-related content from Twitter. The State Department considers both groups as foreign terrorist organizations. This isn't the first time Twitter has come under criticism for how it handles terror-related accounts. Back in 2016, facing similar pressure, the company banned 125,000 ISIS-linked accounts. A report later found the purge devastated the group's viral online reach. For its part, Twitter maintains that it has gotten a lot better at policing its platform. Between the first six months of the year, the company says it suspended approximately 116,000 accounts for promoting terrorism. Approximately 87 percent of those accounts were proactively stopped by the company's algorithmic tools, which it also uses to catch abusive users. Source
  17. Twitter blocking all political ads globally starting in November Twitter's doing what Facebook remains committed not to. Enlarge / A Twitter logo displayed on a smartphone. Rafael Henrique | SOPA Images/LightRocket | Getty Images Twitter might be the president's favored platform and a valued way for candidates to spread their messages far and wide, but starting next month, elected officials and candidates alike are going to have to make sure all that traffic comes organically. That's because they won't be allowed to pay for political advertising. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has apparently taken a look at the controversy currently embroiling Facebook and decided he wants no part of it. "We've made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally," Dorsey announced in, naturally, a tweet. He framed the choice as an opportunity for anyone with a message, rather than a penalty, adding, "A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money." The ban applies not only to candidates and their campaigns but also to "issue ads" by any group, Dorsey continued, since those "present a way to circumvent" the ban on political advertising and would present a situation where "everyone but candidates" could pay to have their view on an issue promoted. He also added an apparent dig at Facebook: For instance, it's not credible for us to say: "We're working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad... well...they can say whatever they want! 😉" "This isn't about free expression," Dorsey went on. "This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today's democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It's worth stepping back in order to address." Direct challenge The stance comes in direct opposition to social media leader Facebook, which explicitly exempts both posts and advertisements made by politicians from its community standards and fact-checking process. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly doubled down on his company's position amid a firestorm of criticism from lawmakers, political candidates, and even employees. In a congressional hearing last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) directly challenged Zuckerberg on the company's policy. "Do you see a potential problem here with the complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements?" Ocasio-Cortez asked. "Well, congresswoman, I think lying is bad," Zuckerberg replied. "I think if you're gonna lie, that would be bad." But that would be different from preventing people from "seeing that you had lied," he tried to explain. "So you will take down lies, or you won't take down lies? I think this is a pretty simple yes or no," she pressed. "In a democracy, I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians that they may or may not vote down are saying," he answered. Any actions Facebook might take "depends on the context" in which a dishonest piece of content is posted, he added. Source: Twitter blocking all political ads globally starting in November (Ars Technica)
  18. BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Twitter’s technology tools removed one in two tweets containing abusive content posted in the first half of this year, it said on Thursday, amid calls to the U.S. social media company and its peers to do more to tackle the issue. Silicon Valley tech giants have in recent months pledged to tighten rules and share more information on abusive content posted on their platforms to avoid more heavy-handed regulatory action on both sides of the Atlantic. Twitter said in its transparency report that it was investing in proactive technology to reduce the burden on people reporting abusive content to the company. “More than 50 percent of tweets we remove for abuse are now proactively surfaced using technology, rather than relying on reports to Twitter,” the company said. That compared with 20% a year ago. The report came a day after Twitter said it would ban political advertising on its platform next month as it and peers including Facebook Inc also face pressure to stop carrying ads that spread false information that could steer elections. The report noted a 105% increase in accounts locked or suspended for violating its rules during the six-month period. There was a 48% rise in accounts reported for potential violation of Twitter’s hateful conduct policies while 115,861 accounts were suspended because of their terrorist content, down 30% from the previous year. The company also received 67% more legal requests to remove content from 49 countries, 80% of which came from Japan, Russia and Turkey. Source
  19. Twitter introduces 'true' dark mode to its Android app Way back in 2016, Twitter introduced a night mode exclusively to its Android app. The option was designed to go easy on the eyes in low light and featured dark grayish-blue backgrounds and overall theme. As per today's dark mode standards, it wasn't a true blue 'dark' mode. Earlier this year, the San Francisco-based social media company came up with a proper, darker shade of the previously released night mode to its iOS app. The feature was duly christened the 'Lights Out' option and transformed the background and accents to darker shades - perfect for midnight browsing. Today saw the release of the 'Lights Out' feature for Android users. Once updated to the latest version of the Twitter app, Android users will be able to switch to the brand new completely blacked out dark mode. The feature is easily accessible and can be toggled by pressing the blue light bulb icon on the sidebar or through the display settings. Additionally, users can also opt to choose an automatic option which will switch the dark mode on at sunset and off at sunrise automatically. Source: Twitter introduces 'true' dark mode to its Android app (Neowin)
  20. Twitter says it inadvertently used private information, provided by users for the purpose of protecting their accounts, to help companies target them with ads. Users provided Twitter with their phone numbers and email addresses in order to enable certain security features, such as two-factor authentication, to prevent their accounts from being hijacked. Twitter, in turn, used that information to help advertisers reach specific audiences, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. “We cannot say with certainty how many people were impacted by this, but in an effort to be transparent, we wanted to make everyone aware. No personal data was ever shared externally with our partners or any other third parties,” the company said. The personal data was used in Twitter’s “Tailored Audiences” advertising system, which allows companies to upload lists of phone numbers and email addresses of people they wish to target with ads. Twitter then matches the lists with its own internal records. Twitter said the error that allowed the security information to be used was fixed as of September 17. It did not say how long the error was ongoing. A company spokesperson said it had nothing further to share regarding the timeline beyond what’s in its statement. “We’re very sorry this happened and are taking steps to make sure we don’t make a mistake like this again,” it said in a statement. Twitter is not the first social media company to use contact information provided by users for security purposes in order to make money. Gizmodo revealed that Facebook was intentionally doing so last year. Source
  21. Twitter has “temporarily” turned off the ability to tweet via text message just days after the feature was misused by hackers to tweet a racial slur, bomb threat, and other crude messages from the account of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. The ability to tweet via text was important to Twitter in the service’s early days, but it’s more of a legacy feature at this point since most people rely on the smartphone app. The feature still exists, though, allowing you to text a number, such as 40404, and have that message posted to your account. That can lead to real issues when someone’s phone number is stolen, which is a technique that hackers increasingly use to compromise accounts because phone carriers often don’t take care to properly secure them. That’s what happened last Friday to Dorsey. Once hackers had access to his number, they were able to use text messages to post under his username, even without otherwise being logged in to his account. Twitter says it’s making the change “to protect people’s accounts.” It blamed mobile carriers, saying they need to address vulnerabilities that allow this kind of misuse. Twitter also said it needed to improve its two-factor authentication system, which relies on text messages as well and could be compromised in the same way. It sounds like the text to tweet feature could be kept off for some time in most countries. Twitter says it’ll “soon” reactivate the feature “in markets that depend on SMS for reliable communication” and that it will work on a “longer-term strategy” for the feature, but it didn’t elaborate on what that would be. Source
  22. Microsoft and Twitter were reportedly present as well. Both intelligence agencies and tech companies are gearing up to secure the 2020 US election, and that apparently includes some heart-to-heart conversations between the two. Bloomberg sources have learned that Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter are meeting members of the FBI, Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to discuss the industry's security strategy. This reportedly includes plans for tighter coordination between tech and government, as well as curbing disinformation campaigns. We've asked the companies in question for comment. Microsoft confirmed to Engadget that it "is participating in this meeting." In a statement, Twitter said it "always welcome the opportunity" to meet with government agencies and fellow companies to discuss securing the 2020 election, and said there was a "joint effort in response to a shared threat." The meeting shows that both sides want to coordinate on election security in a way they didn't in 2016. Tech firms have been more proactive this time around -- Facebook has been operating "war rooms" to monitor elections, for instance, while Google has instituted measures to protect high-risk hacking targets. The question, as always, is whether or not these measures will be enough. Security improvements didn't stop Russia and others from targeting the 2018 midterms, and it's doubtful they'll back off just because they face a more united opposition. Update 9/4 7:30PM ET: Facebook has also confirmed the meeting in a detailed response, outlining how companies and government bodies were finding ways to share data and coordinate responses. You can read the full statement below. "Today security teams from Facebook and a number of technology companies, including Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, met at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, CA with representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Department of Homeland Security. The purpose was to build on previous discussions and further strengthen strategic collaboration regarding the security of the 2020 U.S. state, federal, and presidential elections. "Participants discussed their respective work, explored potential threats, and identified further steps to improve planning and coordination. Specifically, attendees talked about how industry and government could improve how we share information and coordinate our response to better detect and deter threats. "For Facebook, we've developed a comprehensive strategy to close previous vulnerabilities, while analyzing and getting ahead of new threats. Our work focuses on continuing to build smarter tools, greater transparency, and stronger partnerships. "Improving election security and countering information operations are complex challenges that no organization can solve alone. Today's meeting builds on our continuing commitment to work with industry and government partners, as well as with civil society and security experts, to better understand emerging threats and prepare for future elections." Source
  23. He wants a rehearing. President Trump is determined to challenge an appeals court ruling preventing him from blocking critics on Twitter. The Justice Department has filed papers for Trump that demanded a rehearing by the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, arguing that the three-judge panel's unanimous decision was "fundamentally misconceived." The move would supposedly create a chilling effect for politicians if upheld. "Public officials who address matters relating to their public office on personal accounts will run the risk that every action taken on that account will be state action subject to constitutional scrutiny," according to the filing. The challenge may face an uphill battle. In the earlier ruling, Circuit Judge Barrington Parker noted that @RealDonaldTrump is "one of the White House's main vehicles" for official activity -- it's under scrutiny precisely because many of Trump's tweets are state actions. He "hereby ordered" companies to find alternatives to production in China on August 23rd while using his personal account, for example, and incorrectly . If Trump was allowed to block critics of his policies on his personal account, other politicians could simply shift their announcements to personal accounts to avoid their responsibilities for civic interaction. This lines up to a degree with a January ruling that an official's Facebook page is a public forum. As it is, there are calls for consistency across the aisle. Critics have sued Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arguing that they, too, shouldn't be blocked on Twitter merely based on disagreements. While Trump may not be fond of seeing critics' tweets, the ruling could also ensure that rival politicians have to contend with online objectors of their own. Source
  24. Some members say it has been months since they last heard from the company It's been three years since Twitter formed its Trust and Safety Council, tasked with combatting abuse and harassment plaguing the platform. According to a recent report from Wired, things aren't going well. A number of members on the council sent a letter to Twitter leadership this week expressing concerns that the company is no longer listening to their recommendations. In some acses, members claim that Twitter has months without responding to messages from council members. In the letter, obtained by Wired and published Friday, members of the council express to the company that "There have been no advance heads-up of Twitter's policy or product changes to the council, leaving many of us to have no prior warning or let alone knowledge when answering press and media inquiries." The members said the lack of communication is "embarrassing." While not ever member of the council signed on to the letter, those that did have requested a meeting with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to discuss a vision for the council's role within the company going forward. Twitter first formed the Trust and Safety Council in 2016 following years of complaints about abuse taking place on the platform. The plan seemed to work for a time, as Twitter reported targeting and stamping out 10 times as many abusive accounts in 2017 as it had in the year prior. However, it seems as though the company has moved away from relying on its Trust and Safety Council when making decisions on how to change the platform. Source
  25. And so the threats begin... Twenty-four hours after Facebook and Twitter cut down a massive disinformation campaign operated by the Chinese state against pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong, the first report has emerged from Asia of "repercussions" as China looks to get even. The social media platforms are banned in China—what's at stake are the billions in ad revenue generated from Chinese companies targeting audiences overseas. The report in Wednesday's South China Morning Post, an outlet that is not state-controlled but has strong PRC insights, cited analysts claiming "advertising revenue the two platforms earn in the world’s second-largest economy could now be at risk as Chinese companies looking to expand overseas reassess the situation." On Monday, I reported that China has been paying Twitter to run ads attacking the Hong Kong protesters—the language being used was highly-charged and drew parallels between the protesters and terrorists. It soon became clear that the same disinformation campaign was running on Facebook as well. To their credit, both social media platforms acted quickly and forcefully. Twitter acknowledged the "significant state-backed information operation," on its platform, "focused on the situation in Hong Kong," suspending 936 accounts "from within the People’s Republic of China (PRC)." The accounts were found to be promoting "political discord" and "undermining the legitimacy" of the protest movement. Twitter went as far as to say "we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation." Facebook also removed multiple pages and accounts, reporting that "the individuals behind this campaign engaged in a number of deceptive tactics, including the use of fake accounts—frequently posting about local political news and issues including the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities," the platform said in its disclosure, "our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government." And so to the consequences. The SCMP reported Liu Guohong of the China Development Institute warning that "although marketing campaigns on Facebook and Twitter primarily target an overseas audience, Chinese companies that buy ads may have to reconsider whether the national interest is now at stake—as such, the account suspensions may have some adverse impact on revenue the two earn in China." Again, look for the insight. The China Development Institute (CDI) claims to be an "independent think tank," but one that was set up under a Government-backed pilot project and which conducts research "commissioned by Chinese governments at all governance levels and businesses from home and abroad." Facebook has more to lose here, and some industry analysts estimate that the company could generate as much as $5 billion from "China-based advertisers." The social media giant's most recent annual report said that "we generate meaningful revenue from a limited number of resellers representing advertisers based in China." A precedent has been set now, and the two U.S. social media platforms will find it difficult to dial back. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed News reported that China's state media is placing Facebook ads this week "designed to cast doubt on human rights violations occurring under the government’s mass incarceration of Muslim minorities in the country’s northwest Xinjiang region." Advertising by state media outlets has now been banned on Twitter as part of this week's China crackdown—the pressure will be on others to take the same line, given the focus on election integrity and population interference. This week has illustrated the dilemma that global tech outlets face when dealing with China—a market that's too big to ignore but seemingly too dangerous to engage. Google is on the back foot once again after the latest U.S. Commerce Department announcement signaled again that it may have to sever links with Huawei, and FedEx remains under investigation for failing to deliver Huawei packages and, more recently, allegedly dispatching a weapon from the U.S. to China. In May, China announced its own version of the U.S. blacklist, with a "non-reliable entity list" that would target companies for their discriminatory action against Chinese entities. According to China's Commerce Ministry, "foreign enterprises, organizations or individuals that do not comply with market rules, deviate from a contract’s spirit or impose blockades or stop supplies to Chinese enterprises for non-commercial purposes, and seriously damage the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, will be included on a list of ‘unreliable entities'." The example with Facebook and Twitter could easily be argued to come under the umbrella of the restrictions, with the outlets targeted being China's state media outlets. The fake disinformation accounts are harder to leverage, not that China needs to make its case in court. The ongoing battle between the U.S. and China over big tech follows a common theme—with threats from Chinese media outlets intended to give companies in the U.S. pause for thought as to the implications of their actions, and the hope they will lobby Washington in China's favor. What's interesting here, is that the report has not emerged in the state media outlets the China Daily or Global Times. For now, state media is accusing the social media platforms of conducting their own form of censorship, leading to a "backlash" from account holders. "Users complained the move was the latest evidence of the platforms' vulnerability to Western bias against China," the state-controlled Global Times reported, "while analysts noted that social media platforms should perform their social responsibility of ensuring freedom of speech and not fall victim to Western political correctness standards." To be clear, China doesn't want to target Facebook and Twitter revenues generated from its domestic companies—that would disadvantage China inc after all. What it wants is to ensure there is no repeat of this week, that the country can continue to peddle its state propaganda unhindered, that it does not suffer the ignominy of being called to account. And what it's doing it sending a stark message entitled "consequences." It has been an interesting week in the ongoing campaign against state-controlled influence peddling on social media. The next few weeks, though, will be more interesting as the pressure mounts for the changes to stick and we see what actually happens when the current media spotlight dims. Source
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