The Tech News Blog

December 23, 2014

Sony Wants Twitter to Ban Users Sharing Leaked Docs

sony logo 275Lawyers for Sony Pictures are still chasing down leaked documents, particularly those that are making the rounds on Twitter.

According to a letter published by Motherboard, Sony Pictures Entertainment has asked Twitter to suspend users who are circulating documents that were revealed in the movie studio's recent hack.

"SPE does not consent to Twitter's or any Twitter account holder's possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading, or making any use of the stolen information," said the letter, which was signed by attorney David Boies.

Similarly, Boies last week sent memos to high-profile media outlets that have reported on the hack, and ordered them to end coverage and immediately destroy associated stories. If they fail to comply, he said, Sony "will have no choice" but to hold them responsible for damages or loss.

The same threats were relayed to Twitter, which has been asked to arrange for and supervise the destruction of all copies of the leaked data.

Boies specifically calls out London-based musician Val Broeksmit, who has been tweeting screenshots of leaked emails under the name @BikiniRobotArmy, despite receiving multiple requests from Sony to stop posting data.

September 8, 2014

Twitter Officially Testing ‘Buy’ Button

Twitter 'Buy Now' Twitter today confirmed that it is testing a "Buy Now" button with a "small percentage of U.S. users."

First spotted in July, a larger number of people on iOS and Android will begin seeing tweets with the option to buy products directly from their timeline, some of which are exclusive to Twitter.

Initial partners include Fancy, Gumroad, Musictoday, and Stripe, with more slated to join soon. Twitter's test also includes a handful of artists, brands, and charities peddling their products: Brad Paisley, Burberry, Demi Lovato, DonorsChoose, GLAAD, The Home Depot, Pharrell, (RED), Ryan Adams, 9/11 Day, and more.

"This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun," Twitter's group product manager Tarun Jain wrote in a blog post.

May 12, 2014

Is Someone Being Annoying on Twitter? Now You Can Mute Them!

Twitter Censored

Have you ever seen an annoying tweet in your feed and wished there was a way to shut that person up without having to take the drastic measure of completely unfollowing them? Now there's a way!

Twitter on Monday announced it is rolling out an oft-requested "mute" option for the Web and for its iOS and Android mobile apps. The new feature will be making its way to all Twitter users over the coming weeks.

"In the same way you can turn on device notifications so you never miss a Tweet from your favorite users, you can now mute users you'd like to hear from less," Twitter said on its official blog. "Muting a user on Twitter means their Tweets and Retweets will no longer be visible in your home timeline, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user."

Muting lets you have all the benefits of following someone without actually having to see what they say. The muted user will, for instance, still be able to favorite, reply to, and retweet your tweets, you just won't see any of that activity in your own timeline. You won't be completely left out in the cold, however, as any @ replies and @ mentions from muted users will still show up in your Notifications tab. Muted users you follow will also still be able to send you direct messages.

April 13, 2014

Twopcharts: 44% of Twitter’s 947 Million Accounts Haven’t Tweeted Once

100 Twitterers-3

Twitter has a ton of users, right? Around 974 million, to be a bit more precise. However, just because a person has taken the time to make a Twitter account doesn't necessarily mean they've used it. And according to the latest stats from Twopcharts, a third-party site that monitors Twitter activity, a surprisingly high number of people have done just that: Made an account and abandoned Twitter forever.

Just how many? According to the site, approximately 44 percent of Twitter's 947 million accounts or so have never sent a single tweet. Of the number that have — approximately 550 million — just under half of these accounts are reported to have sent their last tweet more than one year ago (43%). Only 126 million have sent any kind of tweet at any point in the past 30 days.

Twitter is, of course, saying nothing about Twopcharts' data, commenting that the company doesn't talk about third-party data related to its service. Twitter representatives are fairly famous for not discussing this "dark pool" count – the number of inactive accounts that exist on the service, which includes those who have never doneanything as well as those who came, tried Twitter out, and left some time ago.

April 7, 2014

Twitter Buys Cover, Android Lockscreen App

Cover Twitter

Twitter on Monday confirmed that it is acquiring the Android lockscreen app Cover for an undisclosed sum.

Cover, which launched in October, learns the apps you use at different times of the day, and puts them on your lock screen for easy access. Cover first announced the acquisition in a Monday blog post that noted that the companies fit well together.

"Twitter, like Cover, believes in the incredible potential of Android," the Cover team said. "They share our vision that smartphones can be a lot smarter — more useful and more contextual — and together we're going to make that happen. We'll be building upon a lot of what makes Cover great, and we're thrilled to create something even better at Twitter."

Since launching six months ago, the Cover app has quickly earned a name for itself, attracting "hundreds of thousands" of users, the company said. Cover will remain available for download in the Google Play store for the time being, though the team behind the app will now focus its attention on work at Twitter.

February 11, 2014

Report: Twitter Testing Facebook-Esque Redesign

Twitter redesign

Brace yourself, Twitter. A major change to your profile page could be on its way.

The social network appears to be testing a new profile page design that takes cues from Facebook and Pinterest. First spotted by Mashable on Tuesday, the new layout (above; click for larger image) moves your profile photo and bio to the left side, making room for a larger header photo, like Facebook's Cover photo.

According to Mashable, the recommended header photo size in the new version is 1,500-by-500 pixels, with a maximum file size of 5MB. Facebook Cover photos are 851 by 315.

Underneath the large rectangular header photo on the revamped Twitter, you'll see the familiar counts for the number of tweets you have posted, people you're following, followers, favorites, and lists, along with a new category for photos and videos.

January 26, 2014

Yahoo Apologizes for Tweeting About Gmail Outage

Yahoo Google Teasing

You just can't make a funny in Silicon Valley anymore. At least, not when you're running Yahoo's official Twitter account.

During yesterday's nearly hour-long outage for both Gmail and Google+ — an unexpected bit of downtime that generated its own Twitter hashtags and at least eight more messages per user regarding one's inability to access Gmail — Yahoo took its own Twitter account to post a helpful update for those unaware about the downtime.

"Gmail is temporarily unavailable," read the tongue-in-cheek tweet. Accompanying it was an image of Google's "Temporary Error (500)" page that awaited anyone trying to type into their browsers.

Funny, right? Bold, if nothing else, given the issues Yahoo recently had regarding the availability of its own mail service. We'd rather take an hour of downtime over a week; just sayin'.

That said, Google's own Twitter account for Gmail remained remarkably silent as the service sat offline, so we'll give Yahoo credit for at least doing its part to keep the tech world informed — or something. At least, that's what Yahoo seems to be suggesting.

"The @Yahoo Twitter handle is used by our editorial team to inform about news and events," read one of Yahoo's tweets posted around 1:30 PT yesterday.

January 3, 2014

Twitter’s Vine Launches Web Profiles

Vine Web Profiles

Until now, Vine users have been limited to viewing their six-second videos on the service's mobile apps, but the Twitter-owned service today opened Vine to the Web.

Users can now log in at to view their friends' videos in the home feed, and like, comment on, and share content just as they would on the mobile apps. Click the person icon on the top right of the screen, meanwhile, to peruse your own Vine videos online.

Also in the top right is a TV icon; click it for TV Mode, a larger view of the Vine videos on your screen. Videos will play in sequence, but you still have to click on them to enable the sound. Select the arrows to scroll through available Vines.

"This release is just a first step toward bringing you a richer, more enjoyable Web experience," Vine engineer Janessa Det said in a blog post. "We look forward to introducing more improvements in 2014."

Web profiles arrive on the heels of Vine's new vanity URLs, which launched late last month. At this point, though, only those who actually use Vine are eligible: You'll need to be active on the site for at least 30 days and have posted more than two videos to snag a vanity URL. If you're feeling less than creative, Twitter automatically reserves your micro-blogging handle, but you must register on Vine to confirm it.

Those who do not qualify for a vanity Vine URL will simply have a series of numbers at the end of their Vine profile link for now.

Vine rival Instagram, which added video recording last year, rolled out Web profiles in Nov. 2012.

December 6, 2013

Report: Twitter for Internet-Free Phones Coming Soon

Twitter Logo

No Internet? No problem. Soon, those without an Internet connection will be able to access Twitter.

According to a report from Reuters, Twitter is joining forces with Singapore-based startup U2opia Mobile to make its service available to users in emerging markets who have phones that cannot access the Web. The service is expected to launch in the first quarter of next year.

When it becomes available, users will simply need to dial a code on their device to get a feed of the popular trending topics on Twitter, Reuters said, similar to how Twitter worked at its inception back in 2006. More than 11 million people already use U2opia's Fonetwish service, which offers access to Facebook and Google Talk on mobile devices without an Internet connection.

"For a lot of end users in the emerging markets, it's going to be their first Twitter experience," U2opia CEO and co-founder Sumesh Menon told Reuters. He mentioned that 8 out of 10 people in emerging markets still do not have access to the Internet on their phone.

November 7, 2013

Twitter Goes Public, Opens Strong

Twitter IPO

Micro-blogging site Twitter is now public. Almost two months after the company filed confidential IPO documents, Twitter users this morning helped ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), where Twitter will be listed as TWTR.

"Ring!" the company tweeted from its @Twitter feed at 9:30 a.m. this morning, when the stock market opened here in Manhattan.

Twitter called on Sir Patrick Stewart (@sirpatrickstew), 9-year-old Vivienne Harr (@vivienneharr) and Cheryl Fiandaca (@CherylFiandaca), public information bureau chief with the Boston Police Department, to ring that opening bell since "Twitter owes success to its users," the NYSE tweeted.

The NYSE building this morning was adorned with a huge Twitter banner, the company's familiar bird logo looking down over Wall Street.