Twitter said early this year that it would do more to help first-timers follow people, and it’s now making good on its word. The social network has just revamped its sign-up process to help you tailor those first follows to your interest. Rather than simply toss out a bunch of suggestions, Twitter now asks you to choose topics you like (such as music or technology) and offers recommendations to match. You’ll also see recent tweets from those accounts, so you’ll have a better sense of whether or not that celebrity or news outlet is really a good fit.
The new sign-up system isn’t perfect. By default, it will automatically have you following every suggestion; you have to deselect the people you don’t want to watch. Still, it could give you a much gentler introduction to the service by showing people you’re more likely to care about — Twitter is hoping that you’ll see enough interesting activity to stick around. The company obviously has some financial incentives for helping you out, but it’s hard to object to a bigger, better welcome mat.
Filed under: Internet
Source: Christian Oestlien (Twitter)
Strange as it may seem, wars aren’t just fought with bullets and bombs anymore. Tweets and shares can at times be equally potent, and that’s probably why Ukraine mounted a social offensive yesterday after Russian troops began engaging with domestic forces in the border town of Novoazovsk. The country’s Foreign Ministry implored Twitter users retweet its message and to use the hashtags #RussiaInvadedUkraine and #UkraineUnderAttack to spread the word of Russia’s incursion. It looks like the plan’s working, too. #RussiaInvadedUkraine is the more popular of the two hashtags, and according to Topsy, it’s been deployed in over 400,000 tweets over the past 24 hours.
Alas, perhaps the best tweet on the matter was issued by Canada’s NATO delegation, and lacked either hashtag. Unsurprisingly, Russia continues to deny its move into Ukraine’s sovereign territory, though it’s since been legitimized by US intelligence and images released by NATO. As The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor points out, this is far the from the first social media showdown that Ukraine and Russia have been embroiled in. Back in April, Russia’s own foreign ministry hijacked the #UnitedForUkraine hashtag promoted by the US State Department with tweets throwing Ukraine and its allies under the bus.
Source: The Washington Post
Publishers and verified users have been able to track view counts on organic tweets since last month, but Twitter is looking to make that data more widely accessible. Today, the microblogging social network revealed that this analytics feature is no longer limited to people or companies with a tiny blue check mark on their profile. The tweet activity dashboard is now also available to users who are active primarily in English, Japanese and Spanish, and have had an account for longer than two weeks. And don’t worry, support for additional languages is coming — Twitter let it be known that it is working to bring its tool to everyone sometime “soon.” So, there it is, now you won’t have to wonder if anyone’s actually reading those thoughtful (and wonderful) tweets of yours.
Want to know how your Tweets are performing? Check out the revamped Tweet activity dashboard: https://t.co/g6w5dsqIo0
- Twitter (@twitter) August 27, 2014
Absolutely thrilled to open up access to http://t.co/wcU6oj9hFM to EVERYONE. Check it out, and let us know what you think!
- Ian Chan (@chanian) August 27, 2014
Filed under: Internet
My phone buzzes. I glance at it and see a text message from my husband, who wants to know if I can pick him up from work. Later that day, my phone buzzes again. This time, it’s a Facebook Messenger notification from my mother, who wants to chat about an upcoming trip. At the same time, a friend pings me using Twitter’s Direct Messages. Next, a colleague strikes up a conversation on Google Hangouts. Realizing it would be easier to handle all of these with a computer, I flip open my laptop so I can chat with everyone simultaneously. Within the span of a few hours, I’ve chatted with four different people on four completely different messaging platforms. And the juggling doesn’t stop there.
It used to be that sending an SMS was enough. Now there’s a seemingly endless number of ways to stay in touch with someone. And it’s not just dedicated messaging apps like WhatsApp or Line either. Instagram added direct messaging this past December; Vine followed suit earlier this April; and even Pinterest joined the bandwagon recently by letting pinners chat with other pinners. And, of course, Twitter has had direct messaging for almost eight years now. While variety and choice are generally good things, all of these messaging services introduce a perplexing problem: We have too many inboxes.
Being able to send messages within different applications isn’t all bad, of course. If I think of an interesting photo or video I want to share with just my friends on Instagram, I can do so within the app easily. The same with Pinterest — I can continue the collaboration process of pinning designs and planning a home remodel, for example, without having to use another messaging service. And, of course, messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are a lot cheaper to use than traditional SMS — for US users at least, there’s no need to fork over exorbitant messaging fees every month or, if you’re on a limited plan, cough up pennies with every text.
But the problem is all of these messaging services and apps are siloed experiences. Messages can’t be shared outside of their respective ecosystems. Worse still, I have an obligation to use all of them because different people in my social circle use different apps. When I travelled to Malaysia earlier this year, WhatsApp was the app of choice amongst my friends. A couple of my other pals use Snapchat, so I have that installed on my phone too. A few other early adopter friends (most of whom are admittedly tech writers like myself) use Slingshot, Facebook’s Snapchat alternative, so I’ve got that as well. I also installed Path’s Talk app and Line to chat with a few people, though they were mostly to exchange fun stickers. I even downloaded that silly Yo app, even if I only ever use it in jest.
Forrester researcher Thomas Husson said in a report on messaging apps entitled “Messaging Apps: Mobile Becomes The New Face Of Social” that the “fragmented nature of the social media ecosystem is inherent to the fact that individuals have multiple identities.” Basically, people use different apps and networks for different reasons. For example, people tend to use LinkedIn to talk with potential business partners, while they might use Facebook Messenger only with friends or family. Further, some messaging apps tend to be more popular in certain parts of the world — Line, for example, has a stronger following in Asia — which, if you have friends all over the globe, would mean you’re constantly switching between services.
What’s the big deal, you might ask? Our smartphones and computers are certainly more than capable of handling these disparate systems, and besides, it’s not that difficult to switch between apps, right? Well, sure, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. I shouldn’t have to have a dozen different messaging apps on my phone to talk with all the people in my life. Chris Heuer, a longtime social media user and CEO of Alynd, a social business startup, expresses the same frustration over too many apps: “I think what’s missing in this whole discussion on messaging now is that the messaging is now often done within the context, instead of messaging being the context.” It’s the reason why he dislikes the fragmentation of Facebook Messenger away from the core Facebook app. “Now I have another app I have to open and that will waste more time I don’t have … I’ve got enough apps. I want less, not more.”
Several years ago, there was a similar problem with too many instant-messaging protocols. I used all of them — AOL, Yahoo, MSN, GChat and, yes, even ICQ. I remember installing all of these apps on my computer and keeping them all logged in at the same time because, for some reason, my friends and coworkers just couldn’t agree on the same IM platform. Then, something wonderful happened. All-in-one apps like Trillian and Adium came along to unite most of the disparate IM services under one program. At last, I could launch just one app to chat with everyone.
What we need, then, is an equivalent universal inbox for messaging. No, not just for all your email and text messages. For everything. We need a smart inbox that’ll sort messages by service, label them appropriately and will let you continue conversations within just one app.
There are a few solutions out there that come close to solving the problem. The Hangouts app for Android, for example, is able to handle both Google’s IM system and text messages. If you’re a loyal BlackBerry fan, you already know that the OS from Waterloo has a unified inbox that can house emails, texts and messages from Facebook and Twitter in one place. Disa.im is an Android app currently in alpha that promises to combine SMS, WhatsApp, Hangouts and Facebook messaging in one place as well. There’s also an app called Messages+ that promises to do the same thing, though it seems to fall short — it doesn’t support incoming messages for WhatsApp and we weren’t able to use it to send a message on Facebook.
Still, none of these really live up to the dream of that one, true universal inbox for everything. Which is, sad to say, probably more fantasy than reality. Not only because most of these apps are walled gardens, but also because some, like Snapchat and Slingshot, are based around messages that are meant to disappear after you’ve read them. Further, new messaging features and apps crop up all the time, making it tough to keep something like a universal inbox up-to-date.
The alternate solution, of course, is to insist on just one communication method for people to contact you. You probably won’t be able to keep in touch with as many people in your life, and it might be harder for people to reach you. But, perhaps, that’s the price to pay for sanity.
Hold on, my phone’s buzzing again.
Remember that illusive “Buy Now” button that briefly showed up on Twitter last month? Re/Code says it’s still on the way — and it’s backed by Stripe, a mobile payments startup. According to sources close to the outlet, merchants that want to sell products through tweets will need to sign up with Stripe’s payment platform to get started, suggesting that the startup will be the only way to pay for goods on the social network. In the past, Twitter has been rumored to be working with Fancy.com to create a “Twitter Commerce” platform, although its unclear when the company’s retail ambitions will come to fruition. Still, something is clearly in the works.
[Image credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images]
Filed under: Internet
Thinking about using a hashtag in your next tweet? Watch out — Twitter might use it as an excuse to attach a video or image to your message. A promotion for ABC’s new TV comedy “Selfie” revealed that Twitter can now prompt users to attach media to a tweet based on the hashtags they use. iOS users who compose a message with #SelfieABC, for instance, will be asked if they want to attach the TV show’s first episode in the tweet.
Users still have to manually select “attach” to embed the suggested object in the tweet (and it only seems to be working on iOS for now), but it’s an interesting evolution on what hashtags are capable of. As for the show? It’s a modern, over-the-top take on My Fair Lady with internet humor and meme references liberally sprinkled on the surface. Sound like your kind of show? The first episode is just a tweet away.
Filed under: Apple
Have you noticed that you’re getting a lot less spam on Twitter these days? You may have to thank a bot for that. Twitter has just shed light on BotMaker, a recently developed system that (as the name suggests) lets the social network create anti-spam bot code with very little effort. Within a few seconds, engineers can set up rules that automatically take down and track spammers, in some cases before they’ve even managed to post anything. Besides barring known spam links, the bots can flag suspicious behavior — if a lot of people block an account after it sends a tweet, it’s going to be watched very closely. BotMaker will also look at long-term behavior, so spammers that slip through the cracks aren’t necessarily safe.
Importantly, you shouldn’t notice that BotMaker is working; it’s designed to only fight certain forms of spam as they arrive, and saves more time-consuming tasks for later. Whatever its impact on performance, it’s proving to be effective. Twitter is reporting a 40 percent drop in spam since its new tool kicked in, and it can improve any less-than-perfect rules within seconds instead of hours. It’s doubtful the technology will ever completely rid the world of pitches for fake followers and cheap drugs, but it should help staff police a rapidly growing user base without hurting your day-to-day experience.
Filed under: Internet
Source: Twitter Engineering Blog
After saying it would take a more hands-on approach to bullying, Twitter will now remove images of deceased persons upon family request in “certain circumstances.” That follows an atrocious instance of harassment, in which several users sent Zelda Williams fake images of a body in a morgue following the death of her father, Robin Williams. After she decided to leave the social network, Twitter said it “(would) not tolerate abuse of this nature.” The new policy states that users can request the removal of such images “from when critical injury occurs to the moments before or after death” by emailing email@example.com. However, Twitter added that it would also consider “public interest factors” and may not accommodate all requests.
You know how Twitter started inserting others’ favorites and follows into your timeline? As it turns out, it’s not an experiment — it’s official policy. We now know that the social network recently updated its timeline explanation to confirm that it’s adding tweets from strangers, new accounts to follow and other “popular” content to your feed. Like you might have suspected, the company is trying to make your stream “even more relevant and interesting” by showing you material you might not otherwise have seen.
It’s reassuring that Twitter isn’t simply broadcasting everything you do. However, as Quartz notes, it still represents a big change to the way the service behaves. Outside of ads, the timeline has always focused on showing you the latest content from people you meant to follow. Now, it’s a more Facebook-like experience where the company chooses a bit of what you see in an attempt to get more active users and boost its ad revenue. You shouldn’t miss out on any of the action, but you may have to wade through some clutter (and become some of the clutter) to get what you want.
Filed under: Internet
Have you recently noticed people commenting on your Twitter favorites, even when you didn’t (intentionally) share them with the rest of the world? You’re not alone. The social network has started putting your favorites and following activity in your followers’ timelines, whether or not you’re mentioned — if you really like an article, others may know right away. It’s not clear whether this is an experiment or a permanent feature, and we’ve reached out to Twitter for the full scoop.
The exact motives for the decision aren’t apparent so far, although Twitter has been taking many steps to keep people engaged with its service and generate that all-important ad revenue. Showing more than just updates and retweets could help bashful members strike up conversations. However, early feedback suggests that the company might have overstepped its bounds. Besides populating Twitter feeds with content that people didn’t ask for, the move also appears to play fast and loose with privacy. Many use favorites for bookmarks and other personal reasons; they may not want to share links or clever quotes with their followers, which is what the retweet button is for. While the feature only periodically kicks in and may help you discover new content or people, there’s no doubt that it irks at least some users.
Filed under: Internet
Source: The Next Web