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05.23.17 | 6:48 pm

Bug in Twitter’s ads code allowed hackers to tweet from anyone’s account

Much as some of us might wish, it doesn't explain Donald Trump's tweets, but there's a chance it could explain irregularities in tweets from any number of other Twitter accounts.

It, in this case, is a bug that would have allowed hackers to post from anyone's account–even Trump's, and even before Trump added two-factor authentication. According to Motherboard, code from Twitter's ads team had introduced the vulnerability. Discovered in February by someone who goes by the nickname kedrisch, the flaw "in the handling of Twitter Ads Studio requests…allowed an attacker to tweet as any user. By sharing media with a victim user and then modifying the post request with the victim's account ID the media in question would be posted from the victim's account. This bug was patched immediately after being triaged and no evidence was found of the flaw being exploited by anyone other than the reporter." Twitter seems to have paid kedrisch a bounty of $7,500 for discovering the bug.

[Photo: Unsplash user Benjamin Balázs]

05.23.17 | 1:40 pm

Twitter’s sponsored tweets can now start private conversations with chatbots

Twitter has created a new way to help brands get their bots in front of potential customers. Now brands can create sponsored interactive tweets—when a customer engages with them, they pull those potential shoppers into a direct message conversation with the brand's bot. Unlike some bots that are designed to handle customer service issues, these are meant to engage customers, ultimately leading them to make a purchase.

For instance, one of the first brands participating is Patron Tequila. Patron has a sponsored tweet advertising "Bot-Tenders" that can help you create the perfect cocktail. From the tweet, you pick the type of event you're mixing up drinks for, and then Patron will DM you a few questions about your flavor preferences and present a few appropriate recipes.

05.19.17 | 3:36 pm

Hey brands, people don’t like when you make fun of your competition on Twitter

Social media has fostered an age of post-post-irony, so it's understandable that major brands want to speak the same language. One way to do that is by trash-talking the competition with cheap shots and snark. Case in point: that time Delta Air Lines weighed into United's leggings-ban controversy with a cutesy subtweet encouraging people to wear leggings on Delta flights. #Owned 

The tweet got Delta some headlines, and maybe some people were amused, but a new survey from Sprout Social suggests most consumers aren't really into that kind of pettiness. Among the respondents, 67% said they find it annoying when brands make fun of the competition. Other consumer turnoffs include brands using slang (69% say it's annoying), talking politics (71% say it's annoying), and making fun of customers (88% say it's annoying). Really, who makes fun of their customers? 

Check out the full survey here

[Image: Sprout Social]

05.16.17 | 2:04 pm

Biz is back and Twitter shares are flying higher than they’ve flown all year

Wall Street hasn't been too kind to Twitter lately, but someone sure likes the idea of Biz Stone coming back to keep an eye on things. Twitter Inc. shares jumped more than 2.5% today after Stone, a cofounder of the service, said in a Medium post that he's coming back in a new role to focus on company culture. "There's something about the personality of a company that comes from the folks who start it," Stone wrote in a post that was apparently too long to fit in a tweet. Stone said he decided to come back to the company after being invited by CEO Jack Dorsey. Twitter shares were trading at $19.55 in midday, a high not seen since December 2016. Read Stone's full post here.

[Photo: Flickr user Joi Ito]

05.01.17 | 5:19 am

Twitter is becoming a 24/7 streaming news network

The social media company has teamed up with Bloomberg News to begin streaming live news 24 hours a day, seven days a week, reports the Wall Street Journal:

The channel, which has yet to be named and is expected to begin operating this fall, won't simply rebroadcast footage from Bloomberg's existing television operation, but will be made up of live news reporting from the news outlet's bureaus around the world, as well as a curated and verified mix of video posted on Twitter by the social-media platform's users.

As for the cost to viewers, the WSJ reports the new Twitter news channel will be ad-supported, so you likely won't need any kind of paying subscription to watch it.

04.28.17 | 11:56 am

The stars of “The Circle” put Jack Dorsey in the hot seat

STX Entertainment released a roundtable discussion with the stars and director of The Circle, alongside Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Based on Dave Eggers's novel of the same name, the film follows a young woman on her rapid rise in a tech and social media company, which involves taking part in an experiment that crosses ethical lines of surveillance, privacy, and personal freedom.

And to help contextualize these issues IRL, The Circle cast stopped by Twitter HQ for a live chat with Dorsey, where they mainly covered diversity and inclusion in Silicon Valley and the responsibilities tech companies have in how people use their platforms.

Watch the full discussion below or click here for Dorsey's highlights.

04.26.17 | 7:56 am

Twitter scored 9 million new users during Q1 2017

We haven't seen this kind of user growth in two years, when Twitter added 14 million new users in Q1 2015. That's not the only area where the beleaguered company exceeded expectations: Twitter earned $548 million in revenue, an 8% decline year-over-year and the first revenue drop since its IPO—but higher than the $512 million analysts had predicted

As Twitter has struggled to add new users, it has focused more on the daily user metric, which also increased by 14% year-over-year. In other words, people are checking Twitter more often—likely due to a combination of its emphasis on combatting abuse, the live video push, and the tweaks made to the timeline. During its earnings call Wednesday morning, Twitter CFO and COO Anthony Noto also attributed the upswing in activity to "resurrected users" who were flocking to Twitter to keep up with political news.

All this means Twitter's stock is up. When's the last time that happened after its earnings call? 

04.26.17 | 6:11 am

Twitter wants to broadcast video 24/7

The social media network apparently liked the little taste it got from broadcasting NFL games last year, so now it plans to embrace the medium all day, every day, reports BuzzFeed News. Twitter is now planning to broadcast live sports, news, and entertainment videos 24/7 in the future. That's in both its app and desktop versions. Twitter COO and CFO Anthony Noto told BuzzFeed News: "We will definitely have 24/7 content on Twitter. Our goal is to be a dependable place so that when you want to see what's happening, you think of going to Twitter."

04.10.17 | 6:47 am

Twitter’s shareholders want to turn the company into a user-owned co-op

Twitter's shareholders will vote for the unorthodox proposal on May 22, reports Business Insider. The proposal originated from a petition that called for a co-op structure to Twitter. According to the petition's authors:

"For a lot of us Twitter is the fastest, easiest way to know and share what's going on around us—it sparks conversations, spreads information, and energizes movements. But Wall Street thinks the company is a failure because it's not raking in enough profit for shareholders. That means that Twitter is up for sale, and there is a real risk that the new owner may ruin our beloved platform with a narrow pursuit of profit or political gains."

It is highly unlikely the proposal will pass, but if it does Twitter execs will only have to "prepare a report on the nature and feasibility of selling the platform to its users via a cooperative or similar structure with broad-based ownership and accountability mechanisms."

04.06.17 | 6:05 am

Twitter just announced a new service to reduce your mobile data usage

Twitter Lite is a new mobile web app of the company's service, which aims to save users precious data if their plans don't provide much of it or they are in slow-connection areas of the world:

Today, we are rolling out Twitter Lite, a new mobile web experience, which minimizes data usage, loads quickly on slower connections, is resilient on unreliable mobile networks, and takes up less than 1MB on your device. We also optimized it for speed, with up to 30% faster launch times as well as quicker navigation throughout Twitter. Twitter Lite provides the key features of Twitter—your timeline, tweets, direct messages, trends, profiles, media uploads, notifications, and more. With Twitter Lite, we are making Twitter more accessible to millions of people—all you need is a smartphone or tablet with a browser.

[Image: Twitter]

03.31.17 | 12:17 pm

Goodbye, Twitter egg (we won’t miss you)

Back in 2010, Twitter started representing new users who hadn't yet uploaded a profile picture with a picture of an egg. It was cute at the time. But culturally, the egg came to represent the worst of Twitter: trolls and bots.

Rather than try to repair the egg's reputation, Twitter is replacing it with a new image of a human silhouette that's intended to feel like something that good citizens will want to quickly replace. For Co.Design, I spoke with the company's designers about the surprisingly tricky challenge behind their new design.

03.31.17 | 5:41 am

Everyone hates Twitter’s new @reply changes

The company has made it so that @reply names don't count against the 140 character limit anymore, while also shifting @reply names above the other text in the tweet. The changes have not gone down well with users.