Tag: Twitter

Biggest Twit prepares to flog his stock

TwitterThe markets were all tutting over Twitter founder Ev Williams deciding to flog a third of his shares.

Apparently, Williams did not want to get rid of his shares because the company was suffering, he just wanted to buy something nice for himself.

In fact, his announcement make it clear that he was not selling because of Twitter performance reasons, just for personal reasons.

Of course, a cynic would suggest that those personal reasons could be that he does not want to lose more money on a company which could not successfully sell itself.

If he wants to buy anything more than a mars bar and a packet of crisps with his shares then he might have to do it now. Williams is the company’s largest individual shareholder, so his recent announcement may make some investors worried. However, Twitter stock was only down less than one percent Thursday following this news. Recode reports:

Twitter’s stock is down more than 15 percent over the past three months. Williams explained the sale in a blog post, and wrote that he has spent a lot of money investing through his venture fund, Obvious Ventures, and also donated a lot to charity and political campaigns over the past year.

“I’d like to continue,” he added. Williams sold about $4 million in stock this week, according to an SEC filing, and has set up a 10b5-1 trading plan, which means he will sell at pre-determined dates moving forward to avoid any concerns over insider trading.

Twitter’s woes deepen

TwitterThe social notworking outfit Twitter, which has been unable to sell itself, has now seen its advertising revenue fall.

Twitter posted the slowest revenue growth since it went public four years ago.

Shares fell 10 percent as investors feared that Snapchat and Facebook were winning the advertising war.

Revenue from advertising fell from a year ago and a 4.0 percent year-on-year rise in users to 319 million fell short of Wall Street forecasts as well.

There had been some amusing analysts who thought that Donald (Prince of Orange) Trumps’s obsession with Twitter would make the social notworking site great again. It didn’t – Trump’s fans relationship with the internet is somewhat limited.

The microblogging service has struggled to find a formula that will attract a new crop of users or advertisers even as rivals have ridden a wave of rising investment in internet advertising.

The lack of revenue growth has raised questions about Dorsey’s leadership and whether the company would be bought by a bigger media firm. Financial markets speculated about a sale of Twitter last year, but no concrete bids were forthcoming.

Dorsey told analysts on a conference call on Thursday that Twitter was investing in machine learning and searching for ways to engage advertisers.

“It will take time to show the results we all want to see, and we’re moving forward aggressively. The whole world is watching Twitter,” he said.

Advertising revenue in the fourth quarter declined 0.5 percent year-over-year to $638 million, and the company said that advertising revenue growth would continue to lag user growth during 2017.

Reporter uses bots to tackle racists

Dancing Racists-2The Washington Post’s Kevin Munger used Twitter bots, one “white” and one “black” to tackle racism and appears to have worked out a strategy which reduces racist slurs.

Munger used Twitter accounts to send messages designed to remind harassers of the humanity of their victims and to reconsider the norms of online behaviour.

He sent every harasser the same message:

@[subject] Hey man, just remember that there are real people who are hurt when you harass them with that kind of language

He then used a racial slur as the search term because it was the strongest evidence that a tweet might contain racist harassment. He restricted the sample to users who had a history of using offensive language, and only included white subjects or anonymous people.

He bought followers for half of the bots — 500 followers, to be specific — and gave the remaining bots only two followers each (see screenshot above). This represents a large status difference: a Twitter user with two followers is unlikely to be taken seriously, while 500 followers is a substantial number.

Only one of the four types of bots caused a significant reduction in the subjects’ rate of tweeting slurs – the white bots with 500 followers.

Generally, though he found it is possible to cause people to use less harassing language and it is more most likely when both individuals share a social identity. Unsurprisingly, high status people are also more likely to cause a change.

Munger thinks that many are already engaged in sanctioning bad behaviour online, but they are doing it in a way that can backfire. If people call out bad behaviour in a way that emphasises the social distance between themselves and the person they’re calling out then telling people off is less likely to be effective.


CIA-backed monitoring group fires half its staff

spyA CIA-backed internet monitoring group has been forced to fire half its staff after it lost rights to monitor Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Geofeedia came under the spotlight when it was discovered that it enabled law enforcement surveillance. In mid-October, Twitter followed Facebook and Instagram in cut Geofeedia off from its valuable data stream.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report said police had used the platform to track protests and other large gatherings.

Now without the detail provided from social notworking,  the company has fired 31 of its approximately 60 employees, mostly in its sales office..

CEO Phil Harris said Geofeedia wasn’t “created to impact civil liberties,” but in the wake of the public debate over their product, they’re changing the company’s direction.

“Following these suspensions, we have decided to scale back our business and focus on a variety of innovations that will allow us to serve our customers and continue our rapid growth trajectory as a leading real-time analytics and alerting platform,” the statement said.

He claimed that Geofeedia’s software was useful for schools, sports leagues, customer service, marketing and event planning, per the statement. He also referred to the company’s $17 million funding round in February — which brought its total funding to nearly $24 million — and “strong sales and growth” as strengthening the company.

Geofeedia would not say if it lost clients following the ACLU report, and declined to specify what it was going to do next.

Twitter’s money man moves on

adam bane twitter The bloke credited with making Twitter survive by finding ways of making money from it has quit.

Chief Operating Officer , and top Twit,  Adam Bain, built a decent advertising business around Twitter even as its user numbers started to slow.

When Bain joined Twitter in 2010 when it had almost no revenue and built an advertising sales machine that generated some $2.2 billion last year. A popular executive who was once considered a possible chief executive for the company, Bain was named COO in October last year.

Apparently, he is going to “explore other opportunities” which is a bit like “wants to spend more time with his family.” There does not appear to be any bad blood spilt, Bain is remaining at Twitter in the coming weeks to assist with the transition of the chief operating officer role.

The move is not that great for Twitter which has been trying to sell itself off and has trimmed nine percent of its global workforce to keep costs down.

Bain will be replaced by Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto, the company said, adding it would begin a search for a new CFO.

Noto, became the finance chief in 2014, will continue to manage the live content business as well as Twitter’s global advertising sales, data and mobile ad exchange MoPub.

In announcing his exit on Twitter, Bain heaped praise on CEO Jack Dorsey and added: “I’m excited to take w me everything I’ve experienced at Twitter & do something totally different and new outside the company. Stay tuned!”


US elections see the rise of the Twitter bots

Alice_Micro_Robot_SwarmResearchers have shown that the lead candidates in both the US elections are relying on Twitter bots to get out their message.

Researchers demonstrated in their analysis of Twitter traffic during the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and found huge numbers of active bots which were being used to amplify support on Twitter.

Samuel Woolley, director of research at Political Bots, said automated accounts were tweeting messages with hashtags associated with the candidates. For example, #makeamericagreatagain or #draintheswamp for Trump; #imwithher for Clinton. The numbers were huge  –  one third of all tweets using pro-Trump hashtags were created by bots and one fifth of all Clinton hashtags were generated by automated accounts.

Woolley said that the bots were acting as a prosthesis for small groups of people to affect conversation on social media. This bot activity was often picked up by the “real media” to show who had a lot of support online.

“But what we found was that a lot of traffic surrounding Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is actually manufactured,” he said.

This has been seen in the past. Such bots were used in the 2008 special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Massachuetts Senate seat in 2008.

A conservative group in Iowa, the American Future Fund, set up nine Twitter accounts that sent 929 tweets and reached more than 60,000 people with messages accusing the Democratic candidate in the race, Martha Coakley, of being anti-Catholic, the researchers found.

“Political actors and governments worldwide have begun using bots to manipulate public opinion, choke off debate, and muddy political issues. Political bots tend to be developed and deployed in sensitive political moments when public opinion is polarized,” Woolley and his colleagues wrote in their report.

“The problem is that a lot of people don’t know bots exist, and that trends on social media or even online polls can be gamed by bots very easily.

It has been estimated that the proportion of bots to humans on the Internet is about 50-50.

Big Tech reacts in horror to Yahoo’s spying story

A shocked Baby (2)_fullAfter the news got out that Yahoo has been scanning its mail systems for the US spooks, the bigger US ISPs have reacted in horror and said they would never dream of such a thing.

Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter have all said they would never do such a thing.

According to Reuters, Yahoo built in 2015, at the US  government’s request, software that scans literally all emails for certain information provided by either the National Security Agency or the FBI. The software was never mentioned in Yahoo’s biannual transparency report. In the latter half of 2015, the company received 4,460 total government data requests, for 9,373 accounts, that it would classify as “Government Data Requests,” a category that includes National Security Letters from the FBI and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests.

According to the Reuters report, the Yahoo programme was known to only a handful of employees.

A Facebook representative said “Facebook has never received a request like the one described in these news reports from any government, and if we did we would fight it.”

Google said the same: “We’ve never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: ‘no way.’”

A Microsoft spokesperson added: “We have never engaged in the secret scanning of email traffic like what has been reported today about Yahoo.”

A representative for Twitter replied that: “We’ve never received a request like this, and were we to receive it we’d challenge it in a court. Separately, while federal law prohibits companies from being able to share information about certain types of national security related requests, we are currently suing the Justice Department for the ability to disclose more information about government requests.”

While Apple declined to give a statement on the record it has previously said it would never do anything like that.

Yahoo is coming out looking like the bad guy. It is in talks to be acquired by Verizon, but also facing another scandal for suffering the largest known user data leak in history, with 500 million users’ information exposed. However it failed to mention it to its users.

Snowden ain’t dead yet

snowden_2912545bA bizzare conspiracy theory started over the weekend claiming that the spooks had finally offed Edward Snowden.

It all started when Snowden posted a tweat saying: “its time” and then followed by another one which had a long hex string.  The two tweets were mysteriously deleted and conspiracy nuts thought that it was a deadman’s switch. An automatic code releasing more secret documents in the advent he was bumped off.

Snowden had not been heard of since and the posts were deleted.  However his made and co-conspirator in the whole leaking game Glenn Greenwald  tweeted the Snowden was fine.  However he didn’t provide any details either, although it is hard to prove a negative.

For some reason people have not thought “oh, he must have sat on his mobile” or tweeted by mistake.  Happens to me all the time and no one thinks I have been offed by the CIA or a desperate Apple fanboy.


Twitter results disappoint Wall Street

Wall Street is very disappointed with TwTwitteritter and is talking about the outfit being sold or at very least its CEO Jack Dorsey being forced to walk the plank.

Twitter announced second quarter earnings that missed estimates and the company provided a  lower than expected outlook.

Its share price fell almost 15 percent and Twitter shares are down 50 percent since Dorsey returned last summer to the helm of the social media company he co-founded.

In fact Twitter continues to show almost no growth in its user base of a little over 300 million and its  advertising revenues are softer than a baby’s bottom.

The company cut its forward revenue estimate for the next quarter to $590 million- $610 million, while analysts had been expecting $681 million.

At a market cap of about $11 billon, compared with more than $40 billion at its peak, Twitter could now be a more attractive takeover target.

Verizon, which owns AOL, this week said it would buy Yahoo for $4.8 billion. Google, Disney and Apple have also been mentioned as possible acquirers of Twitter.

Twitter surged briefly earlier this month after Microsoft announced its acquisition of LinkedIn, as investors hoped for a similar deal for Twitter, but it seemed that Vole was not going to be that silly.


Top three net companies sued over Paris deaths

parisThe dad of one of the 130 people killed in the Paris shootings is suing Google, Facebook and Twitter claiming that they knowingly helped the terrorists.

Reynaldo Gonzalez’s daughter, Nohemi, was among the 130 killed when religious extremists attacked Paris last year.  He claims that Twitter, Facebook and Google for facilitating the spread of “extremist propaganda” after alleging the trio “knowingly permitted” ISIS to recruit, raise money and spread its message across each of the respective platforms.

The court documents say that for years, the companies have knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use their social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits.

“This material support has been instrumental to the rise of ISIS, and has enabled it to carry out numerous terrorist attacks, including the 13 November 2015 attacks in Paris, where more than 125 were killed, including Nohemi Gonzalez.”

Without Twitter, Facebook and Google-owned YouTube, religious extremists would not have the infrastructure to get their message to the masses, he claimed.

While we are sympathetic for his loss, the court does appear a bit unfair. Each company goes to great lengths to police its ranks and remove offending content. It is a game of “wack-a-rat”, which companies often lose because of it being the internet. The danger is that he might actually win which would leave internet companies open to massive lawsuits every time there is a terrorist act.

Blaming the Internet for the sins of humanity is not the best way to move forward on anything.  The big three are developing AI in an attempt to clamp down on extremist posts.  If they pull it off then there will be fewer extremist sites and posts. It is taking a while to get the tech right.