Twitter Super Follows has generated only around $6K+ in its first two weeks

Twitter’s creator platform Super Follows is off to an inauspicious start, having contributed to somewhere around $6,000 in U.S. iOS revenue in the first two weeks the feature has been live, according to app intelligence data provided by Sensor Tower. And it’s made only around $600 or so in Canada. A small portion of that revenue may be attributed to Ticketed Spaces, Twitter’s other in-app purchase offered in the U.S. — but there’s no way for this portion to be calculated by an outside firm.

Twitter first announced its plans to launch Super Follows during its Analyst Day event in February, where the company detailed many of its upcoming initiatives to generate new revenue streams.

Today, Twitter’s business is highly dependant on advertising, and Super Follows is one of the few ways it’s aiming to diversify. The company is also now offering a way for creators to charge for access to their live events with Ticketed Spaces and, outside the U.S., Twitter has begun testing a premium product for power users called Twitter Blue.

Image Credits: Twitter

But Super Follows, which targets creators, is the effort with the most potential appeal to mainstream users.

It’s also one that is working to capitalize on the growing creator economy, where content creators build a following, then generate revenue directly through subscriptions — decreasing their own dependence on ads or brand deals, as a result. The platforms they use for this business skim a little off the top to help them fund the development of the creator tools. (In Twitter’s case, it’s taking only a 3% cut.)

The feature would seem to make sense for Twitter, a platform that already allows high-profile figures and regular folks to hobnob in the same timeline and have conversations. Super Follows ups that access by letting fans get even closer to their favorite creators — whether those are musicians, artists, comedians, influencers, writers, gamers, or other experts, for example. These creators can set a monthly subscription price of $2.99, $4.99, or $9.99 to provide fans with access to bonus, “behind-the-scenes” content of their choosing. These generally come in the form of extra tweets, Q&As, other interactions with subscribers.

Image Credits: Twitter

At launch, Twitter opened up Super Follows to a handful of creators, including the beauty and skincare-focused account @MakeupforWOC; astrology account @TarotByBronx; sports-focused @KingJosiah54; writer @myeshachou; internet personality and podcaster @MichaelaOkla; spiritual healer @kemimarie; music charts tweeter @chartdata; Twitch streamers @FaZeMew, @VelvetIsCake, @MackWood1, @GabeJRuiz, and @Saulsrevenge; YouTubers @DoubleH_YT, @LxckTV, and @PowerGotNow; and crypto traders @itsALLrisky and @moon_shine15; among others. Twitter says there are fewer than 100 creators in total who have access to Super Follows.

While access on the creation side is limited, the ability to subscribe to creators is not. Any Twitter iOS user in the U.S. or Canada can “Super Follow” any number of the supported creator accounts. In the U.S., Twitter has 169 million average monetizable daily active users as of Q2 2021. Of course, only some subset of those will be iOS users.

Still, Twitter could easily count millions upon millions of “potential” customers for its Super Follow platform at launch. Its current revenue indicates that, possibly, only thousands of consumers have done so, given many of the top in-app purchases are for creators offering content at lower price points.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

Sensor Tower notes the $6,000 in U.S. consumer spending on iOS was calculated during the first two weeks of September (Sept. 1-14). Before this period, U.S. iOS users spent only $100 from August 25 through 31 — a figure that would indicate user spending on Ticketed Spaces during that time. In other words, the contribution of Tickets Spaces revenue to this total of $6,000 in iOS consumer spending is likely quite small.

In Canada, the other market where Super Follow is now available to subscribers, Twitter’s iOS in-app purchase revenue from September 1 through September 14 was a negligible $600. (This would also include Twitter Blue subscription revenue, which is being tested in Canada and Australia.)

Worldwide, Twitter users on iOS spent $9,000 during that same time, which would include other Ticketed Spaces revenues and tests of its premium service, Twitter Blue. (Twitter’s Tip Jar, a way to pay creators directly, does not work through in-app purchases).

Unlike other Twitter products that developed by watching what users were already doing anyway — like using hashtags or retweeting content — many of Twitter’s newer features are attempts at redefining the use cases for its platform. In a massive rush of product pushes, Twitter has recently launched tools for not just for creators, but also for e-commerce, organizing reading materials, subscribing to newsletters, socializing in communities, chatting through audio, fact-checking content, keeping up with trends, conversing more privately, and more.

Twitter’s position on the slower start to Super Follows is that it’s still too early to make any determinations. While that’s fair, it’s also worth tracking adoption to see if the new product had seen any rapid, of-the-gate traction.

“This is just the start for Super Follows,” a Twitter spokesperson said, reached for comment about Sensor Tower’s figures. “Our main goal is focused on ensuring creators are set up for success and so we’re working closely with a small group of creators in this first iteration to ensure they have the best experience using Super Follows before we roll out more widely.”

The spokesperson also noted Twitter Super Follows had been set up to help creators make more money as it scales.

“With Super Follows, people are eligible to earn up to 97% of revenue after in-app purchase fees until they make $50,000 in lifetime earnings. After $50,000 in lifetime earnings, they can earn up to 80% of revenue after in-app purchase fees,” they said.

#analyst, #canada, #computing, #day, #e-commerce, #operating-systems, #real-time-web, #sensor-tower, #software, #spokesperson, #tc, #text-messaging, #tweetdeck, #twitter, #twitter-blue, #united-states, #video-hosting, #vine, #writer, #youtube

Apple Security Update Closes Spyware Flaw in iPhones, Macs and iWatches

Researchers at Citizen Lab found that NSO Group, an Israeli spyware company, had infected Apple products without so much as a click.

#ahmed-azam, #amnesty-international, #apple-inc, #citizen-lab, #computer-security, #computers-and-the-internet, #cyberattacks-and-hackers, #cyberwarfare-and-defense, #defective-products, #hubbard-ben, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #iphone, #israel, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #nso-group, #privacy, #signal-open-whisper-systems, #software, #text-messaging, #university-of-toronto

George Floyd Protests: Troopers Deleted Texts and Emails, Major Testifies

According to a transcript released Friday, a member of the Minnesota State Patrol said there was “a purge of emails and text messages” after troopers responded to protests in Minneapolis last year.

#american-civil-liberties-union, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #e-mail, #freedom-of-the-press, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #minneapolis-minn, #minnesota, #news-and-news-media, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #st-paul-minn, #state-patrol-minnesota, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #text-messaging

Twitter is testing a new anti-abuse feature called ‘Safety Mode’

Twitter’s newest test could provide some long-awaited relief for anyone facing harassment on the platform.

The new product test introduces a feature called “Safety Mode” that puts up a temporary line of defense between an account and the waves of toxic invective that Twitter is notorious for. The mode can be enabled from the settings menu, which toggles on an algorithmic screening process that filters out potential abuse that lasts for seven days.

“Our goal is to better protect the individual on the receiving end of Tweets by reducing the prevalence and visibility of harmful remarks,” Twitter Product Lead Jarrod Doherty said.

Safe Mode won’t be rolling out broadly — not yet, anyway. The new feature will first be available to what Twitter describes as a “small feedback group” of about 1,000 English language users.

In deciding what to screen out, Twitter’s algorithmic approach assesses a tweet’s content — hateful language, repetitive, unreciprocated mentions — as well as the relationship between an account and the accounts replying. The company notes that accounts you follow or regularly exchange tweets with won’t be subject to the blocking features in Safe Mode.

For anyone in the test group, Safety Mode can be toggled on in the privacy and safety options. Once enabled, an account will stay in the mode for the next seven days. After the seven day period expires, it can be activated again.

In crafting the new feature, Twitter says it spoke with experts in mental health, online safety and human rights. The partners Twitter consulted with were able to contribute to the initial test group by nominating accounts that might benefit from the feature, and the company hopes to focus on female journalists and marginalized communities in its test of the new product. Twitter says that it will start reaching out to accounts that meet the criteria of the test group — namely accounts that often find themselves on the receiving end of some of the platform’s worst impulses.

Earlier this year, Twitter announced that it was working on developing new anti-abuse features, including an option to let users “unmention” themselves from tagged threads and a way for users to prevent serial harassers from mentioning them moving forward. The company also hinted at a feature like Safety Mode that could give users a way to defuse situations during periods of escalating abuse.

Being “harassed off of Twitter” is, unfortunately, not that uncommon. When hate and abuse get bad enough, people tend to abandon Twitter altogether, taking extended breaks or leaving outright. That’s obviously not great for the company either, and while it’s been slow to offer real solutions to harassment, it’s obviously aware of the problem and working toward some possible solutions.

#online-safety, #operating-systems, #social, #social-media, #software, #tc, #text-messaging, #tweetdeck, #twitter

Twitter adds support for Twitter Spaces to its rebuilt API

Twitter is rolling out changes its newly rebuilt API that will allow third-party developers to build tools and other solutions specifically for its audio chatroom product, Twitter Spaces. The company today announced it’s shipping new endpoints to support Spaces on the Twitter API v2, with the initial focus on enabling discovery of live or scheduled Spaces. This may later be followed by an API update that will make it possible for developers to build out more tools for Spaces’ hosts.

The company first introduced its fully rebuilt API last year, with the goal of modernizing its developer platform while also making it easier to add support for Twitter’s newer features at a faster pace. The new support for Twitter Spaces in the API is one example of that plan now being put into action.

With the current API update, Twitter hopes developers will build new products that enable users — both on and off Twitter — to find Twitter Spaces more easily, the company says. This could potentially broaden the reach of Spaces and introduce its audio chats to more people, which could give Twitter a leg up in the increasingly competitive landscape for audio-based social networking. Today, Twitter Spaces isn’t only taking on Clubhouse, but also the audio chat experiences being offered by Facebook, Discord, Reddit, Public.com, Spotify, and smaller social apps.

According to Twitter, developers will gain access to two new endpoints, Spaces lookup and Spaces search, which allow them to lookup live and scheduled Spaces using specific criteria — like the Spaces ID, user ID, or keywords. The Spaces lookup endpoint also offers a way to begin to understand the public metadata and metrics associated with a Space, like the participant count, speaker count, host profile information, detected language being used, start time, scheduled start time, creation time, status, and whether the Space is ticketed or not, Twitter tells us.

To chose what Spaces functionality to build into its API first, Twitter says it spoke to developers who told the company they wanted functionality that could help people discover Spaces they may find interesting and set reminders for attending. Developers said they also want to build tools that would allow Spaces hosts to better understand how well their audio chats are performing. But most of these options are yet available with today’s API update. Twitter only said it’s “exploring” other functionality — like tools that would allow developers to integrate reminders into their products, as well as those that would be able to surface certain metrics fields available in the API or allow developers to build analytics dashboards.

These ideas for other endpoints haven’t yet gained a spot on Twitter’s Developer Platform Roadmap, either.

Twitter also told us it’s not working on any API endpoints that would allow developers to build standalone client apps for Twitter Spaces, as that’s not something it heard interest in from its developer community.

Several developers have been participating in a weekly Spaces hosted by Daniele Bernardi from Twitter’s Spaces team, and were already clued in to coming updates. Developers with access to the v2 API will be able to begin building with the new endpoints starting today, but none have new experiences ready to launch at this time. Twitter notes Bernardi will also host another Spaces event today at 12 PM PT to talk in more detail about the API update and what’s still to come.

#api, #apps, #facebook, #operating-systems, #real-time-web, #social, #software, #speaker, #spotify, #technology, #text-messaging, #twitter, #twitter-spaces, #unity

Twitter taps crypto developer to lead ‘bluesky’ decentralized social network effort

Twitter’s ambitious upstart decentralized social media working group “bluesky” took an important step Monday as the social media company appointed a formal project lead who will direct how the protocol develops moving forward.

Crypto developer Jay Graber was tapped by Twitter to helm the initiative, which the company hopes will eventually create a decentralized social media protocol that a number of social networks including Twitter will operate on. The separate bluesky organization will operate independently but to date has been funded and managed largely by employees at Twitter.

Graber had already been working in a less formal role inside the bluesky team, with Twitter paying her to create a technical review of the decentralized social ecosystem for a working group of developers in the space. Graber previously worked on the developer team behind privacy focused cryptocurrency Zcash and built out her own decentralized social network called Happening, designed to compete with Facebook Events. Graber eventually walked away from the effort after having issues bootstrapping a user base interested in the benefits of decentralization, something that has grown to be a near-insurmountable issue for most upstart networks in the space.

In an interview back in January, Graber told TechCrunch she saw a major opportunity in Twitter entering the decentralized social space due to the hefty user base on the Twitter platform, which will itself eventually migrate to the protocol, the company has said.

“The really powerful thing about Twitter doing a decentralized protocol move is that if you could design a protocol that works in an ideal way, you don’t have to go through the initial effort of finding the niche to bootstrap from because Twitter will bring so many users,” Graber told us.

In January, TechCrunch profiled the initiative as it gathered more attention following Twitter’s permanent ban of former President Donald Trump from its platform. Following Trump’s removal, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey highlighted the bluesky effort as one of the company’s ongoing initiatives to ensure that social media moderation could be less decentralized in the future. A decentralized social media protocol would allow for individual networks to govern themselves without one company or organization exercising monolithic control over the sphere of online conversations. 

“I think a huge focus for everyone involved has been thinking how do we enable better moderation, and not just coming from one source,” Graber told TechCrunch.

The bluesky organization is still in its earliest stages. Graber’s next task is bulking up the team with its first hires, which include a protocol developer and web developer.

#blockchain, #cryptocurrency, #decentralization, #donald-trump, #facebook, #forward, #jack-dorsey, #operating-systems, #president, #real-time-web, #social-media, #social-network, #social-networks, #software, #tc, #technology, #text-messaging, #twitter

Could Gen Z Free the World From Email?

“It’s actually crazy how outdated it is.” People born after AOL Mail was invented seem to prefer to communicate in almost any other way.

#computers-and-the-internet, #e-mail, #generation-z, #labor-and-jobs, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #text-messaging, #work-life-balance

5 Police Officers Are Fired After a Man in Custody Hangs Himself

Three of the officers in Savannah, Ga., mocked the death of William Harvey in a group text message exchange, in which an inappropriate GIF was shared, officials said.

#black-people, #cameras, #crime-and-criminals, #curtis-david, #deaths-fatalities, #ethics-and-official-misconduct, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #hewett-christopher, #kerr-michael, #leuschner-silver, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-savannah-ga, #savannah-ga, #text-messaging, #tremblay-erica, #william-harvey

What Data About You Can the Government Get From Big Tech?

The revelations of a leak investigation started in the Trump administration are a reminder that Big Tech companies often hand over information about their users.

#apple-inc, #classified-information-and-state-secrets, #computers-and-the-internet, #e-mail, #facebook-inc, #google-inc, #justice-department, #new-york-times, #text-messaging

Apple unveils new privacy features, digital IDs and changes to FaceTime.

Apple’s privacy push has put the company at odds with rivals. Despite protests from some corners of Silicon Valley, Monday’s announcements show that Apple has doubled down on privacy features.

#apple-inc, #censorship, #computers-and-the-internet, #identification-devices, #iphone, #mobile-applications, #software, #text-messaging

Twitter Blue, a $3 monthly subscription service, could be coming soon

Great news for typo-prone tweeters: Twitter Blue, a $2.99 monthly subscription, appears to be coming soon to a Timeline near you.

Two weeks ago, researcher Jane Manchun Wong first reported that Twitter’s new subscription service is in the works. But yesterday, Twitter’s iOS App Store listing updated to list Twitter Blue as an in-app purchase, confirming earlier findings from this unofficial source. Though users can’t yet subscribe to Twitter Blue – even after downloading app update – Wong dug up details about the service, signaling that its launch could be imminent.  

In addition to the undo button, which Wong uncovered as early as March, this service will include a reader mode, which turns tweet threads into “easy-to-read text.” Twitter acquired Scroll and Revue this year in an effort to improve users’ reading experience on the app, so this addition makes sense. Plus, users will be able to change the color of the Twitter app icon, as well as the color theme of their Timeline, a feature that’s already available on the web. Twitter Blue subscribers can also organize tweets into Collections – this feature looks like an updated version of Bookmarks, but with the added ability to organize tweets into folders. 

Currently, Twitter ads make up 85% of the company’s revenue. Twitter told Bloomberg in February that it plans to “research and experiment” with new ways to monetize the platform, especially as its user growth has slowed. But over the last several months, Twitter has teased some of the platform’s biggest changes since doubling the 140-character tweet limit in 2018. These features include Super Follows, Tip Jar, Twitter Spaces, and more.

This week at J.P. Morgan’s Global Technology, Media, and Communications conference, Twitter CFO Ned Segal indicated that the company views Twitter Blue and Super Follows as two separate types of subscriptions. On Google Play, the Twitter app page lists an in-app product priced at $4.99 per item, which might indicate the upcoming launch of Super Follows, too. Segal also said that Twitter would offer more information about the service in the coming months, then “ultimately roll it out to people around the world.”

Finally, for those of us wondering – no, there’s no indication of plans for an “edit tweet” button at this time.

#apps, #ios-app-store, #jane-manchun-wong, #ned-segal, #revue, #scroll, #social, #text-messaging, #twitter, #twitter-blue

Wellness Challenge: Play This Game to Break Phone Addiction

#content-type-service, #text-messaging

Google Fi turns 6 and gets a new unlimited plan

Google Fi, Google’s cell network, is turning six today and to celebrate, the team is launching a new pricing plan, dubbed ‘Simply Unlimited’ starting at $60 per month for a single line (down to $30 per line for 3 lines or more). The new plan features unlimited calls and texts in the U.S., plus unlimited data and texting in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Image Credits: Google

You may recall that Fi’s original promise was a single, affordable pay-as-you-go plan where you would pay a fixed price per month for the basic call and texting service and then pay an extra $10 per GB of data you used per billing cycle, capped at $80 per month. In 2019, Google then turned this into what is essentially an unlimited plan, dubbed Fi Unlimited, starting at $70 per month for a single line, with discounts for additional lines.

The new ‘Simply Unlimited’ plan is a pared-down version of the original Unlimited plan, which is now called the Unlimited Plus plan (yeah, that’s a lot of names). Now, that plan has still a lot of extra features that power users aren’t likely willing to give up for a slightly lower price. In addition to everything in the new Simply Unlimited plan, this plan still features free international calls to more than 50 countries and international data in more than 200 destinations, plus full-speed hotspot tethering and 100GB of Google One cloud storage.

The Flexible plan is also still an option, with its base fee of $20 per month for texting and calling for a single line (down to $17 per month for three lines) and $10 per GB of data, no matter whether you use if abroad or at home — or for hotspot tethering. Google says that’s the plan to choose if you’re mostly on WiFi — as most of us are right now.

Basically, if you’re not planning to use your phone outside of North America, the new Simply Unlimited plan looks like a good deal that, depending on your use case, compares favorably with similarly priced plans from other carriers — especially if international data is important to you.

Image Credits: Google

#canada, #free, #google, #google-fi, #mexico, #mobile, #north-america, #telecommunications, #tethering, #text-messaging, #united-states, #wireless

Bryan Washington on His Going-Out Friends

In a year without access to queer spaces, one writer considers the importance of the bonds they helped form.

#bars-and-nightclubs, #dating-and-relationships, #friendship, #homosexuality-and-bisexuality, #text-messaging

A ‘more honest’ stock market

Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review!

Last week, I talked about Clubhouse’s slowing user growth. Well, this week news broke that they had been in talks with Twitter for a $4 billion acquisition, so it looks like they’re still pretty desirable. This week, I’m talking about a story I published a couple days ago that highlights pretty much everything that’s wild about the alternative asset world right now.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.


The big thing

If you successfully avoided all mentions of NFTs until now, I congratulate you, because it certainly does seem like the broader NFT market is seeing some major pullback after a very frothy February and March. You’ll still be seeing plenty of late-to-the-game C-list celebrities debuting NFT art in the coming weeks, but a more sober pullback in prices will probably give some of the NFT platforms that are serious about longevity a better chance to focus on the future and find out how they truly matter.

I spent the last couple weeks, chatting with a bunch of people in one particular community — one of the oldest active NFT communities on the web called CryptoPunks. It’s a platform with 10,000 unique 24×24 pixel portraits and they trade at truly wild prices.

This picture sold for a $1.05 million.

I talked to a dozen or so people (including the guy who sold that one ^^) that had spent between tens of thousands and millions of dollars on these pixelated portraits, my goal being to tap into the psyche of what the hell is happening here. The takeaway is that these folks don’t see these assets as any more non-sensical than what’s going on in more traditional “old world” markets like public stock exchanges.

A telling quote from my reporting:

“Obviously this is a very speculative market… but it’s almost more honest than the stock market,” user Max Orgeldinger tells TechCrunch. “Kudos to Elon Musk — and I’m a big Tesla fan — but there are no fundamentals that support that stock price. It’s the same when you look at GameStop. With the whole NFT community, it’s almost more honest because nobody’s getting tricked into thinking there’s some very complicated math that no one can figure out. This is just people making up prices and if you want to pay it, that’s the price and if you don’t want to pay it, that’s not the price.”

Shortly after I published my piece, Christie’s announced that they were auctioning off nine of the CryptoPunks in an auction likely to fetch at least $10 million at current prices. The market surged in the aftermath and many millions worth of volume quickly moved through the marketplace minting more NFT millionaires.

Is this all just absolutely nuts? Sure.

Is it also a poignant picture of where alternative asset investing is at in 2021? You bet.

Read the full thing.


an illustration of a cardboard ballot box with an Amazon smile on the front

Other things

Here are the TechCrunch news stories that especially caught my eye this week:

Amazon workers vote down union organization attempt
Amazon is breathing a sigh of relief after workers at their Bessemer, Alabama warehouse opted out of joining a union, lending a crushing defeat to labor activists who hoped that the high-profile moment would lead more Amazon workers to organize. The vote has been challenged, but the margin of victory seems fairly decisive.

Supreme court sides with Google in Oracle case
If any singular event impacted the web the most this week, it was the Supreme Court siding with Google in a very controversial lawsuit by Oracle that could’ve fundamentally shifted the future of software development.

Coinbase is making waves
The Coinbase direct listing is just around the corner and they’re showing off some of their financials. Turns out crypto has been kind of hot lately and they’re raking in the dough, with revenue of $1.8 billion this past quarter.

Apple share more about the future of user tracking
Apple is about to upend the ad-tracking market and they published some more details on what exactly their App Tracking Transparency feature is going to look like. Hint: more user control.

Consumers are spending lots of time in apps
A new report from mobile analytics firm App Annie suggests that we’re dumping more of our time into smartphone apps, with the average users spending 4.2 hours a day doing so, a 30 percent increase over two years.

Sonos perfects the bluetooth speaker
I’m a bit of an audio lover, which made my colleague Darrell’s review of the new Sonos Roam bluetooth speaker a must-read for me. He’s pretty psyched about it, even though it comes in at the higher-end of pricing for these devices, still I’m looking forward to hearing one with my own ears.


 

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Extra things

Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:
The StockX EC-1
“StockX is a unique company at the nexus of two radical transitions that isn’t just redefining markets, but our culture as well. E-commerce upended markets, diminishing the physical experience by intermediating and aggregating buyers and sellers through digital platforms. At the same time, the internet created rapid new communication channels, allowing euphoria and desire to ricochet across society in a matter of seconds. In a world of plenty, some things are rare, and the hype around that rarity has never been greater. Together, these two trends demanded a stock market of hype, an opportunity that StockX has aggressively pursued.”

Building the right team for a billion-dollar startup
“I would really encourage you to take some time to think about what kind of company you want to make first before you go out and start interviewing people. So that really is going to be about understanding and defining your culture. And then the second thing I’d be thinking about when you’re scaling from, you know, five people up to, you know, 50 and beyond is that managers really are the key to your success as a company. It’s hard to overstate how important managers, great managers, are to the success of your company.

So you want to raise a Series A
“More companies will raise seed rounds than Series A rounds, simply due to the fact that many startups fail, and venture only makes sense for a small fraction of businesses out there. Every check is a new cycle of convincing and proving that you, as a startup, will have venture-scale returns. Moore explained that startups looking to move to their next round need to explain to investors why now is their moment.”

Until next week,
Lucas M.

And again, if you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.

#alabama, #amazon, #app-annie, #apple, #bessemer, #blockchain, #bluetooth, #bluetooth-speaker, #christies, #coinbase, #cryptocurrency, #e-commerce, #extra-crunch, #gamestop, #google, #operating-systems, #oracle, #real-time-web, #smartphone, #software, #software-development, #sonos, #stockx, #supreme-court, #tc, #techcrunch, #text-messaging, #twitter, #week-in-review

Pennsylvania Woman Accused of Using Deepfake Technology to Harass Cheerleaders

Three teenagers in a Bucks County cheerleading program were subjected to a campaign of harassment using altered videos and spoof phone numbers, police officials said.

#artificial-intelligence, #bucks-county-pa, #bullies, #cellular-telephones, #cyberharassment, #rumors-and-misinformation, #teenagers-and-adolescence, #text-messaging, #wireless-communications

Twitter’s ‘Super Follow’ creator subscription takes shots at Substack and Patreon

It’s been an all-around more ambitious year for Twitter. Following activist shareholder action last year that aimed to oust CEO Jack Dorsey, the company has been making long overdue product moves, buying up companies and aiming to push the envelope on how it can tap its network and drive new revenue streams. Things seem to be paying off for the company, as their share price sits at an all-time high — double that of its 2020 high.

Today, the company shared early details on its first ever paid product, a feature called “Super Follow” which aims to combine the community trends of Discord, the newsletter insights of Substack, the audio chat rooms of Clubhouse and the creator support of Patreon into a creator subscription. The company announced the service during its Analyst Day event Thursday morning.

Plenty of details are still up in the air for the feature, which notably does not have a launch timeline.

Image Credits: Twitter

Screenshots shared by Twitter showcase a feature that allows Twitter users to subscribe to their favorite creators for a monthly price (one screenshot details a $4.99 per month cost) and earn certain subscriber-only perks, including things like “exclusive content,” “subscriber-only newsletters,” “community access,” “deals & discounts,” and a “supporter badge” for subscribers. Creators in the program will also be able to paywall certain media they share, including tweets, fleets and chats they organize in Twitter’s Clubhouse competitor Spaces.

The company’s other big announcement of the event was “Communities,” a product that seems designed to compete with Facebook Groups but also will likely provide “Super Follow” networks a place to interact with creators in close cahoots.

Introducing paywalls into the Twitter feed could dramatically shift the mechanics of the service. Twitter has been pretty conservative over the years in building features that are intended for singular classes of users. Creator-focused features built for a network that is already home to so many creators could be a major threat to services like Patreon, which have largely popped up due to the lackluster monetization tools available from the big social platforms.

New revenue streams will undoubtedly be key to Twitter’s ambitious plan to double its revenues by 2023.

 

#analyst, #ceo, #clubhouse, #computing, #day, #discord, #facebook, #jack-dorsey, #operating-systems, #patreon, #paywall, #real-time-web, #software, #tc, #text-messaging, #twitter

N.Y.P.D. Officer Solicited Sexual Photos From 46 Minors, U.S. Says

Federal prosecutors said Officer Carmine Simpson posed as a 17-year-old online and coaxed dozens of teenagers to send him sexual videos and photos.

#child-pornography, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-nyc, #sex-crimes, #text-messaging

Twitter’s vision of decentralization could also be the far-right’s internet endgame

This week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey finally responded publicly to the company’s decision to ban President Trump from its platform, writing that Twitter had “faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance” and that he did not “feel pride” about the decision. In the same thread, he took time to call out a nascent Twitter-sponsored initiative called “bluesky,” which is aiming to build up an “open decentralized standard for social media” that Twitter is just one part of.

Researchers involved with bluesky reveal to TechCrunch an initiative still in its earliest stages that could fundamentally shift the power dynamics of the social web.

Bluesky is aiming to build a “durable” web standard that will ultimately ensure that platforms like Twitter have less centralized responsibility in deciding which users and communities have a voice on the internet. While this could protect speech from marginalized groups, it may also upend modern moderation techniques and efforts to prevent online radicalization.

Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chief executive officer of Twitter Inc., arrives after a break during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. Republicans pressed Dorsey for what they said may be the “shadow-banning” of conservatives during the hearing. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

What is bluesky?

Just as Bitcoin lacks a central bank to control it, a decentralized social network protocol operates without central governance, meaning Twitter would only control its own app built on bluesky, not other applications on the protocol. The open and independent system would allow applications to see, search and interact with content across the entire standard. Twitter hopes that the project can go far beyond what the existing Twitter API offers, enabling developers to create applications with different interfaces or methods of algorithmic curation, potentially paying entities across the protocol like Twitter for plug-and-play access to different moderation tools or identity networks.

A widely adopted, decentralized protocol is an opportunity for social networks to “pass the buck” on moderation responsibilities to a broader network, one person involved with the early stages of bluesky suggests, allowing individual applications on the protocol to decide which accounts and networks its users are blocked from accessing.

Social platforms like Parler or Gab could theoretically rebuild their networks on bluesky, benefitting from its stability and the network effects of an open protocol. Researchers involved are also clear that such a system would also provide a meaningful measure against government censorship and protect the speech of marginalized groups across the globe.

Bluesky’s current scope is firmly in the research phase, people involved tell TechCrunch, with about 40-50 active members from different factions of the decentralized tech community surveying the software landscape and putting together proposals for what the protocol should ultimately look like. Twitter has told early members that it hopes to hire a project manager in the coming weeks to build out an independent team that will start crafting the protocol itself.

Bluesky’s initial members were invited by Twitter CTO Parag Agrawal early last year. It was later determined that the group should open the conversation up to folks representing some of the more recognizable decentralized network projects, including Mastodon and ActivityPub who joined the working group hosted on the secure chat platform Element.

Jay Graber, founder of decentralized social platform Happening, was paid by Twitter to write up a technical review of the decentralized social ecosystem, an effort to “help Twitter evaluate the existing options in the space,” she tells TechCrunch.

“If [Twitter] wanted to design this thing, they could have just assigned a group of guys to do it, but there’s only one thing that this little tiny group of people could do better than Twitter, and that’s not be Twitter,” said Golda Velez, another member of the group who works as a senior software engineer at Postmates and co-founded civ.works, a privacy-centric social network for civic engagement.

The group has had some back and forth with Twitter executives on the scope of the project, eventually forming a Twitter-approved list of goals for the initiative. They define the challenges that the bluesky protocol should seek to address while also laying out what responsibilities are best left to the application creators building on the standard.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.

Parrot.VC Twitter account

Image: TechCrunch

Who is involved

The pain points enumerated in the document, viewed by TechCrunch, encapsulate some of Twitter’s biggest shortcomings. They include “how to keep controversy and outrage from hijacking virality mechanisms,” as well as a desire to develop “customizable mechanisms” for moderation, though the document notes that the applications, not the overall protocol, are “ultimately liable for compliance, censorship, takedowns etc..”

“I think the solution to the problem of algorithms isn’t getting rid of algorithms — because sorting posts chronologically is an algorithm — the solution is to make it an open pluggable system by which you can go in and try different algorithms and see which one suits you or use the one that your friends like,” says Evan Henshaw-Plath, another member of the working group. He was one of Twitter’s earliest employees and has been building out his own decentralized social platform called Planetary.

His platform is based on the secure scuttlebutt protocol, which allows user to browse networks offline in an encrypted fashion. Early on, Planetary had been in talks with Twitter for a corporate investment as well as a personal investment from CEO Jack Dorsey, Henshaw-Plath says, but the competitive nature of the platform prompted some concern among Twitter’s lawyers and Planetary ended up receiving an investment from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone’s venture fund Future Positive. Stone did not respond to interview requests.

After agreeing on goals, Twitter had initially hoped for the broader team to arrive at some shared consensus but starkly different viewpoints within the group prompted Twitter to accept individual proposals from members. Some pushed Twitter to outright adopt or evolve an existing standard while others pushed for bluesky to pursue interoperability of standards early on and see what users naturally flock to.

One of the developers in the group hoping to bring bluesky onto their standard was Mastodon creator Eugen Rochko who tells TechCrunch he sees the need for a major shift in how social media platforms operate globally.

“Banning Trump was the right decision though it came a little bit too late. But at the same time, the nuance of the situation is that maybe it shouldn’t be a single American company that decides these things,” Rochko tells us.

Like several of the other members in the group, Rochko has been skeptical at times about Twitter’s motivation with the bluesky protocol. Shortly after Dorsey’s initial announcement in 2019, Mastodon’s official Twitter account tweeted out a biting critique, writing, “This is not an announcement of reinventing the wheel. This is announcing the building of a protocol that Twitter gets to control, like Google controls Android.”

Today, Mastodon is arguably one of the most mature decentralized social platforms. Rochko claims that the network of decentralized nodes has more than 2.3 million users spread across thousands of servers. In early 2017, the platform had its viral moment on Twitter, prompting an influx of “hundreds of thousands” of new users alongside some inquisitive potential investors whom Rochko has rebuffed in favor of a donation-based model.

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Inherent risks

Not all of the attention Rochko has garnered has been welcome. In 2019, Gab, a social network favored by right-wing extremists, brought its entire platform onto the Mastodon network after integrating the platform’s open source code, bringing Mastodon its single biggest web of users and its most undesirable liability all at once.

Rochko quickly disavowed the network and aimed to sever its ties to other nodes on the Mastodon platform and convince application creators to do the same. But a central fear of decentralization advocates was quickly realized, as the platform type’s first “success story” was a home for right-wing extremists.

This fear has been echoed in decentralized communities this week as app store owners and networks have taken another right-wing social network, Parler, off the web after violent content surfaced on the site in the lead-up and aftermath of riots at the U.S. Capitol, leaving some developers fearful that the social network may set up home on their decentralized standard.

“Fascists are 100% going to use peer-to-peer technologies, they already are and they’re going to start using it more… If they get pushed off of mainstream infrastructure or people are surveilling them really closely, they’re going to have added motivation,” said Emmi Bevensee, a researcher studying extremist presences on decentralized networks. “Maybe the far-right gets stronger footholds on peer-to-peer before the people who think the far-right is bad do because they were effectively pushed off.”

A central concern is that commoditizing decentralized platforms through efforts like bluesky will provide a more accessible route for extremists kicked off current platforms to maintain an audience and provide casual internet users a less janky path towards radicalization.

“Peer-to-peer technology is generally not that seamless right now. Some of it is; you can buy Bitcoin in Cash App now, which, if anything, is proof that this technology is going to become much more mainstream and adoption is going to become much more seamless,” Bevensee told TechCrunch. “In the current era of this mass exodus from Parler, they’re obviously going to lose a huge amount of audience that isn’t dedicated enough to get on IPFS. Scuttlebutt is a really cool technology but it’s not as seamless as Twitter.”

Extremists adopting technologies that promote privacy and strong encryption is far from a new phenomenon, encrypted chat apps like Signal and Telegram have been at the center of such controversies in recent years. Bevensee notes the tendency of right-wing extremist networks to adopt decentralized network tech has been “extremely demoralizing” to those early developer communities — though she notes that the same technologies can and do benefit “marginalized people all around the world.”

Though people connected to bluesky’s early moves see a long road ahead for the protocol’s development and adoption, they also see an evolving landscape with Parler and President Trump’s recent deplatforming that they hope will drive other stakeholders to eventually commit to integrating with the standard.

“Right at this moment I think that there’s going to be a lot of incentive to adopt, and I don’t just mean by end users, I mean by platforms, because Twitter is not the only one having these really thorny moderation problems,” Velez says. “I think people understand that this is a critical moment.”

#android, #biz-stone, #ceo, #co-founder, #computing, #encryption, #free-software, #gab, #google, #house-energy-and-commerce-committee, #jack-dorsey, #peer-to-peer, #photographer, #president, #social, #social-media, #social-media-platforms, #social-network, #social-networks, #tc, #technology, #text-messaging, #trump, #twitter, #united-states, #washington-d-c, #web-applications

San Francisco police are prepping for a pro-Trump rally at Twitter headquarters

San Francisco police are preparing for a pro-Trump protest at Twitter’s headquarters, a building which has been essentially abandoned since the start of the pandemic last year, with most Twitter employees working remotely.

The potential protest comes days after Twitter banned the President from using its service — his favorite form of communication to millions of followers — following what the company called his continued incitements to violence in the wake of the January 6th assault on the Capitol last week by a mob of his followers.

“The San Francisco Police Department is aware of the possibility of a demonstration on the 1300 block of Market Street (Twitter) tomorrow, Monday January 11, 2021. SFPD has been in contact with representatives from Twitter. We will have sufficient resources available to respond to any demonstrations as well as calls for service citywide,” a police department spokesperson wrote in an email. “The San Francisco Police Department is committed to facilitating the public’s right to First Amendment expressions of free speech. We ask that everyone exercising their First Amendment rights be considerate, respectful, and mindful of the safety of others.”

The San Francisco Chronicle, which first reported the preparations from SF police, noted that posts on a popular internet forum for Trump supporters who have relocated from Reddit called for the president’s adherents to protest his Twitter ban outside of the company’s headquarters on Monday.

Twitter is one of several tech companies to deplatform the current President and many of his supporters in the wake of the riot at the Capitol on Wednesday.

#computing, #donald-trump, #microblogging, #officer, #operating-systems, #president, #real-time-web, #software, #tc, #text-messaging, #twitter

Twitter will reinstate Trump’s account following his deletion of tweets

A Twitter spokesperson has confirmed with TechCrunch this morning that Trump has deleted three tweets that led to the temporarily suspension of this account last night.

Twitter locked the account pending deletion of the offending tweets on Wednesday following the riot and siege of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and said that the suspension would remain in place so long as the tweets were not removed, and that any further violation of its rules could result in an actual permanent account suspension for Trump.

The President’s account is to remain lock 12 hours after his deletion of the tweets (seen below). While we don’t have exact timing on when the countdown started, he has yet to tweet from the account. The account also still bears the warning that, “this Tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules.”

While Trump has previously enjoyed the benefit of a rule Twitter put in place that allowed a special exemption for content that would normally violate its terms of service, but that it would allow to remain in the interest of public access in cases where it comes from accounts with a significant public interest component, like Trump’s while he’s occupying the office of U.S. President.

The three tweets that finally proved a bridge too far for Twitter included a video posted by Trump that called for an end to the violence on Capitol Hill, but that also said “We love you, you’re very special” to the terrorists taking part in the action. The other two included statements that falsely suggested the legitimate results of the most recent U.S. presidential election were somehow fraudulent, including one that suggested the terrorist actions in Washington that resulted were somehow justified.

It’s worth noting that Twitter didn’t actually deleted the offending tweets; the company generally has a policy of removing tweets that violate its terms from public view, and notifying the offending account that they must be deleted by the account holder themselves in order to re-instate the ability to actively use the account.

While Trump does not have access to his own official Twitter account, his deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino posted a statement early Thursday morning about the Electoral Certification process, which was completed in the early hours. The statement again included inciting language falsely disputing the election results, but remains available and untouched by any of Twitter’s flagging measures.

Until this week, most anticipated that Trump would continue to enjoy protections that come with his political status. Yesterday’s move marked a shift for Twitter, but there remains a major question around his status in the remaining two weeks of his Presidential term. Facebook, meanwhile, has taken the opposite action, altogether banning Trump from its platform, for “at least the next two weeks.”

#capitol, #donald-trump, #operating-systems, #policy, #president, #presidential-election, #social, #social-media, #software, #tc, #text-messaging, #twitter, #united-states, #washington, #washington-d-c

Twitter acquires screen-sharing social app Squad

Today, Twitter announced that it is acquiring Squad and that the team from the screen-sharing social app will be joining Twitter’s ranks. Squad’s co-founders, CEO Esther Crawford and CTO Ethan Sutin, and the rest of the team will be coming aboard inside Twitter’s design, engineering, and product departments, Twitter tells us. Crawford specifically notes that she will be leading a product in the conversations space.

What isn’t coming aboard is the actual Squad app, which allowed users to share their screens on mobile or desktop and simultaneously video chat, a feature that aimed to find the friend use case in screen-sharing beyond the enterprise use case of presenting. The app will be shutting down tomorrow, Twitter confirms, an unwelcome surprise for its user base largely made up of teen girls.

Twitter declined to share further terms of the deal.

Image via Twitter

The app’s functionality seems like a natural fit for the service, thought the company did not confirm whether any tech was coming aboard as part of the deal. Twitter hasn’t been keen to keep separate apps functioning outside of the core Twitter app. Vine was infamously shut down, upsetting users who likely later rallied behind TikTok, a massive success story and perhaps one of the biggest missed opportunities for American social media companies. Meanwhile, Periscope which has largely bumbled along over the years, is in a particularly fragile place with app code emerging just today that indicates an impending shutdown for the app.

Squad was notably partnered closely with Snap and was an early adopter of many of the company’s Snap Kit developer tools. Building so much of the app using Snap’s developer tools could have made porting the tech to Twitter’s infrastructure a more complicated task, especially when considering how often Snap Kit apps are tied quite closely to the Snapchat user graph.

Squad raised $7.2 million in venture capital from First Round, Y Combinator, betaworks, Halogen Ventures, ex-TechCrunch editor Alexia Bonatsos’s Dream Machine and a host of other investors. Squad was in the right place at the right time in early 2020. When the pandemic first struck, CEO Esther Crawford told TechCrunch that usage of her app spiked 1100%.

Crawford spoke at length about the challenges of scaling a modern social app while avoiding the pitfalls of toxicity that so often seem to come with reaching new heights. In an interview with TechCrunch last year, she told us her team was “trying to learn from the best in what they did but get rid of the shit.”

In a Medium post, Crawford also took the opportunity of her startup’s exit to lobby investors to start backing more diverse founders.

“I hope that our exit will tip the scale a bit more toward convincing investors to put money into diverse teams because each success is another proof point that we, the historically under-capitalized and underestimated founders, are a good bet,” Crawford wrote in a Medium post. “Invest in women and people of color because we will make you money.”

#alexia-bonatsos, #ceo, #computing, #cto, #editor, #esther-crawford, #microblogging, #operating-systems, #real-time-web, #snap, #snap-inc, #snapchat, #social-media, #software, #tc, #text-messaging, #twitter, #venture-capital, #vine, #y-combinator

When Opera Entered the Chat

The pandemic urged a classical music critic to pull out his phone — and find unexpected community.

#classical-music, #metropolitan-opera, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #text-messaging, #two-thousand-twenty

A bug meant Twitter Fleets could still be seen after they disappear

Twitter is the latest social media site to allow users to experiment with posting disappearing content. Fleets, as Twitter calls them, allows its mobile users post short stories, like photos or videos with overlaying text, that are set to vanish after 24 hours.

But a bug meant that fleets weren’t deleting properly and could still be accessed long after 24 hours had expired. Details of the bug were posted in a series of tweets on Saturday, less than a week after the feature launched.

The bug effectively allowed anyone to access and download a user’s fleets without triggering a notification that the user’s fleet had been read and by whom. The implication is that this bug could be abused to archive a user’s fleets after they expire.

Using an app that’s designed to interact with Twitter’s back-end systems via its developer API. What returned was a list of fleets from the server. Each fleet had its own direct URL, which when opened in a browser would load the fleet as an image or a video. But even after the 24 hours elapsed, the server would still return links to fleets that had already disappeared from view in the Twitter app.

When reached, a Twitter spokesperson said a fix was on the way. “We’re aware of a bug accessible through a technical workaround where some Fleets media URLs may be accessible after 24 hours. We are working on a fix that should be rolled out shortly.”

Twitter acknowledged that the fix means that fleets should now expire properly, it said it won’t delete the fleet from its servers for up to 30 days — and that it may hold onto fleets for longer if they violate its rules. We checked that we could still load fleets from their direct URLs even after they expire.

Fleet with caution.

#computing, #microblogging, #operating-systems, #privacy, #real-time-web, #security, #software, #spokesperson, #text-messaging, #twitter

Driverless Cars Go Humble to Get Real

Recent developments point to promise for driverless car technology, if we stay realistic.

#driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #spam-electronic, #text-messaging, #voyage-auto-inc

Twitter warns developers that their private keys and account tokens may have been exposed

Twitter has emailed developers warning of a bug that may have exposed their private app keys and account tokens.

In the email, obtained by TechCrunch, the social media giant said that the private keys and tokens may have been improperly stored in the browser’s cache by mistake.

“Prior to the fix, if you used a public or shared computer to view your developer app keys and tokens on developer.twitter.com, they may have been temporarily stored in the browser’s cache on that computer,” the email read. “If someone who used the same computer after you in that temporary timeframe knew how to access a browser’s cache, and knew what to look for, it is possible they could have accessed the keys and tokens that you viewed.”

The email said that in some cases the developer’s access token for their own Twitter account may have also been exposed.

The email sent by Twitter to affected developers. (Screenshot: TechCrunch)

These private keys and tokens are considered secrets, just like passwords, because they can be used to interact with Twitter on behalf of the developer. Access tokens are also highly sensitive, because if stolen they can give an attacker access to a user’s account without needing their password.

Twitter said that it has not yet seen any evidence that these keys were compromised, but alerted developers out of an abundance of caution. The email said users who may have used a shared computer should regenerate their app keys and tokens.

It is not immediately known how many developers were affected by the bug or exactly when the bug was fixed. A Twitter spokesperson did not immediately comment when reached by TechCrunch.

In June, Twitter said that business customers, such as those who advertise on the site, may have had their private information also improperly stored in the browser’s cache.

#computing, #email, #operating-systems, #real-time-web, #security, #security-token, #spokesperson, #text-messaging, #twitter

Hi, There. Want to Triple Voter Turnout?

Campaign volunteers go door to door to rouse voters on Election Day. Now some stay outside polling places, asking voters to text friends to join in.

#black-people, #colleges-and-universities, #content-type-service, #democratic-party, #europe, #fraternities-and-sororities, #moveon-org, #oberlin-college, #ohio, #polls-and-public-opinion, #presidential-election-of-2020, #primaries-and-caucuses, #republican-party, #sanders-bernard, #text-messaging, #volunteers-and-community-service

The Biden Campaign Isn’t Door-Knocking. Don’t Freak Out.

Campaigning during a pandemic is an experiment for everyone.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #democratic-party, #masks, #michigan, #pennsylvania, #polls-and-public-opinion, #presidential-election-of-2016, #presidential-election-of-2020, #social-media, #text-messaging, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voting-and-voters, #wisconsin

The Pandemic of Work-From-Home Injuries

Chiropractors report a surge in problems as millions of workers have spent months clacking away on sofas and beds and awkward kitchen counters.

#chairs, #chiropractors, #computer-monitors, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #ergonomics, #laptop-computers, #telecommuting, #text-messaging, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

Kevin Clarkson Steps Down as Flurry of Text Messages Are Aired

“So what are you doing sweet lady?” A flurry of 558 messages was sent by a senior state official over 27 days.

#alaska, #anchorage-daily-news, #clarkson-kevin-g, #government-employees, #propublica, #sexual-harassment, #text-messaging, #women-and-girls, #workplace-environment

Piggyback on popular Tweets to get brand awareness

We’ve aggregated many of the world’s best growth marketers into one community. Twice a month, we ask them to share their most effective growth tactics, and we compile them into this Growth Report.

This is how you stay up-to-date on growth marketing tactics — with advice that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Our community consists of startup founders and heads of growth. You can participate by joining Demand Curve’s marketing training program or its Slack group.

Without further ado, on to our community’s advice.


Analysis of YouTube trending videos

Insights from Ammar Alyousfi.
We reviewed an analysis of every trending YouTube video from 2019. Here are some of our learnings:
  • 95% of videos took less than 13 days to appear on the trending list. The minimum number of views needed for a video to trend was 53,796.
  • Videos stay on the trending list for ~5.6 days after publishing.
  • The top three categories for trending videos are entertainment (28.6%), music (14%) and sports (10.4%).
  • Videos posted on Saturday are the least likely to trend.
To dive deeper, check out the full report.

Don’t forget to transcribe podcasts

#column, #computing, #extra-crunch, #google, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #microblogging, #operating-systems, #real-time-web, #social, #social-media-marketing, #software, #startups, #tc, #text-messaging, #tweet, #twitter

At Talkspace, Start-Up Culture Collides With Mental Health Concerns

The therapy-by-text company made burner phones available for fake reviews and doesn’t adequately respect client privacy, former employees say.

#anxiety-and-stress, #mental-health-and-disorders, #start-ups, #talkspace-groop-internet-platform-inc, #text-messaging, #therapy-and-rehabilitation

The Latest U.S. Tool to Fight Election Meddling: Text Messages

Washington sent offers to cellphones in Russia and Iran of rewards of up to $10 million for information on hackers trying to attack American voting systems.

#cellular-telephones, #computers-and-the-internet, #cyberattacks-and-hackers, #elections, #espionage-and-intelligence-services, #iran, #presidential-election-of-2020, #propaganda, #rumors-and-misinformation, #russia, #state-department, #text-messaging, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wireless-communications

Tiny Love Stories: ‘My Parents Never Called’

Modern Love in miniature, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words.

#dating-and-relationships, #love-emotion, #modern-love-times-column, #parenting, #race-and-ethnicity, #text-messaging

Vicariously mimics another person’s Twitter feed using lists, but it violates Twitter rules

That Vicariously app you might have seen pop up in your twitter feed via a little viral growth hacking has run aground on Twitter’s automation rules. We reached out about it after it started spamming my feed with ‘so and so has added you to a list’ notifications and Twitter says that the app is not in compliance.

To be fair, they did also say they ‘love’ it — but that it will have to find a different way to do what it does.

“We love that Vicariously uses Lists to help people find new accounts to follow and get new perspectives. However, the way the app is currently doing this is in violation of Twitter’s automation rules,” Twitter said in a statement. “We’ve reached out to them to find a way to bring the app into compliance with our rules.”

The app was made by Jake Harding, an entrepreneur who built it as a side project.

The app, which you can find here, enumerates the followers of a target account and builds a list out of the accounts that it follows. This enables you to create lists that are snapshots of the exact (minus algorithmic tweak) feed that any given user sees when they open their app. Intriguing, right?

Well, it turns out Twitter has done this themselves twice before. Once in 2011 and originally waaaay back in 2009. The product had a built in feature that allowed you to just click through and view someone’s follower graph as a feed with a tap.

I was there in 2009 when it was a thing, and I can tell you that it was just flat out cool to see someone else’s graph going by. In the early growing days it was very interesting to see who was following who or what. It sort of taught you how to ‘do’ Twitter when everyone was learning it together. I can see why Harding wanted a duplicate of this in order to re-create this feeling of ‘snapshotting’ someone else’s info apparatus.

Unfortunately, one of the big side effects of the way that Vicariously duplicates this feature using an automated ‘list builder’ is that it spams every person it adds to the list given that Twitter always notifies you when someone adds you to a list and there is no current way to alter that behavior.

So you see a lot of ‘added to their list‘ tweets and notis.

There are also other issues with the way  that Vicariously works to build public lists of people’s follower graphs. There is potential for abuse here in that it could be used to target the people that a targeted account follows. One of the major reasons Twitter killed this feature twice is that the whole thing feels hyper personal. Your Twitter follower graph is something that you, theoretically, curate. Though a lot of people have become more performative with follows and instead, ironically, add the people they want to ‘follow’ to lists.

Having your graph public is something that felt exciting and connective at one point in Twitter’s life. But the world may be too big and too nasty now for something like this to feel really comfortable if it ever spreads beyond the technorati/Twitter power user crowd. We’ll see I guess.

Oh, and Twitter, it is about time you built in a ‘can not be added to lists’ feature. Otherwise, as someone reminded me via DM, you run the risk of making all of the same mistakes as Facebook.

#computing, #entrepreneur, #facebook, #kik-messenger, #microblogging, #operating-systems, #real-time-web, #software, #spamming, #tc, #text-messaging, #twitter

Taylor Lorenz on Reporting, Teens and Internet Culture

Taylor Lorenz spends most of her days reporting on the ways we use the internet. Here’s how she does it.

#computers-and-the-internet, #instant-messaging, #parenting, #social-media, #text-messaging, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming, #your-feed-selfcare, #youth

A hacker used Twitter’s own ‘admin’ tool to spread cryptocurrency scam

A hacker allegedly behind a spate of Twitter account hacks on Wednesday gained access to a Twitter “admin” tool on the company’s network that allowed them to hijack high-profile Twitter accounts to spread a cryptocurrency scam, according to a person with direct knowledge of the incident.

The account hijacks hit some of the most prominent users on the social media platform, including leading cryptocurrency sites, but also ensnared several celebrity accounts, notably Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Vice earlier on Wednesday reported details of the Twitter admin tool.

A Twitter spokesperson, when reached, did not comment on the claims. Twitter later confirmed in a series of tweets that the attack was caused by “a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”

A person involved in the underground hacking scene told TechCrunch that a hacker, who goes by the handle “Kirk” — likely not their real name — generated over $100,000 in the matter of hours by gaining access to an internal Twitter tool, which they used to take control of popular Twitter accounts. The hacker used the tool to reset the associated email addresses of affected accounts to make it more difficult for the owner to regain control. The hacker then pushed a cryptocurrency scam that claimed whatever funds a victim sent “will be sent back doubled.”

The person told TechCrunch that Kirk had started out by selling access to vanity Twitter accounts, such as usernames that are short, simple and recognizable. It’s big business, if not still illegal. A stolen username or social media handle can go for anywhere between a few hundred dollars or thousands.

Kirk is said to have contacted a “trusted” member on OGUsers, a forum popular with traders of hacked social media handles. Kirk needed the trusted member to help sell stolen vanity usernames.

In several screenshots of a Discord chat shared with TechCrunch, Kirk said: “Send me @’s and BTC,” referring to Twitter usernames and cryptocurrency. “And I’ll get ur shit done,” he said, referring to hijacking Twitter accounts.

But then later in the day, Kirk “started hacking everything,” the person told TechCrunch.

Kirk allegedly had access to an internal tool on Twitter’s network, which allowed them to effectively take control of a user’s account. A screenshot shared with TechCrunch shows the apparent admin tool. (Twitter is removing tweets and suspending users that share screenshots of the tool.)

A screenshot of the alleged internal Twitter account tool. (Image supplied)

The tool appears to allow users — ostensibly Twitter employees — to control access to a user’s account, including changing the email associated with the account and even suspending the user altogether. (We’ve redacted details from the screenshot, as it appears to represent a real user.)

The person did not say exactly how Kirk got access to Twitter’s internal tools, but hypothesized that a Twitter employee’s corporate account was hijacked. With a hijacked employee account, Kirk could make their way into the company’s internal network. The person also said it was unlikely that a Twitter employee was involved with the account takeovers.

As part of their hacking campaign, Kirk targeted @binance first, the person said, then quickly moved to popular cryptocurrency accounts. The person said Kirk made more money in an hour than selling usernames.

To gain control of the platform, Twitter briefly suspended some account actions — as well as prevented verified users from tweeting — in an apparent effort to stem the account hijacks. Twitter later tweeted it “was working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”

#cryptocurrency, #digital-media, #kirk, #microblogging, #operating-systems, #real-time-web, #security, #social-media, #software, #spokesperson, #text-messaging, #twitter

This Time-Management Trick Changed My Whole Relationship With Time

Was I wasting my life — my fragile, fleeting life — on activities I neither cared about nor enjoyed?

#france, #movies, #queens-nyc, #ridgewood-queens-ny, #text-messaging

Riding Out Quarantine With a Chatbot Friend: ‘I Feel Very Connected’

The digital companions may sound like science fiction. But when social isolation became the norm, they helped deal with the loneliness, some users say.

#artificial-intelligence, #computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #emotions, #luka, #mobile-applications, #psychology-and-psychologists, #text-messaging

T-Mobile hit by phone calling outage

T-Mobile appears to be having problems.

Customers are reporting that they can’t make or receive phone calls, although data and text messages seem to be unaffected.  DownDetector, which collects outage reports from users, indicates that a major outage is underway. It’s not clear how widespread the issue is, but at the time of writing T-Mobile was trending across the United States on Twitter.

The outage appears to have started around 10am PT (1pm ET) on Monday.

DownDetector reporting outages across the U.S.

In our own tests in New York and Seattle, we found that making calls from a T-Mobile phone would fail almost immediately after placing the call. We also found that the cell service on our phones were intermittent, with bars occasionally dropping to zero or losing access to high-speed data.

In April, Sprint and T-Mobile completed its merger, valued at $26 billion, making the combined cell network the third largest carrier in the United States behind AT&T and Verizon.

A spokesperson for T-Mobile also did not immediately comment on the outage.

#deutsche-telekom, #mobile-phone, #new-york, #seattle, #security, #spokesperson, #t-mobile, #technology, #telecommunications, #telephony, #text-messaging, #twitter, #united-states

I Don’t Need ‘Love’ Texts From My White Friends

I need them to fight anti-blackness.

#black-people, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #text-messaging, #whites

What Pennsylvania’s ‘Dry Run’ Election Could Reveal About November

Both political parties are treating Tuesday’s primary as a moment to test their outreach, turnout and voting strategies ahead of the presidential election in the battleground state.

#absentee-voting, #bucks-county-pa, #pennsylvania, #philadelphia-pa, #presidential-election-of-2020, #primaries-and-caucuses, #text-messaging

How to Create Screen-Life Balance When Life Has Shifted to Screens

Being thoughtful about our use of screens can help us emerge from this crisis empowered and in control, and with more self-awareness.

#computer-monitors,