Hackers made a mockery of Twitter's security on a couple of occasions last year – first in January and then in April. The first breach affected 45 accounts, including that of President Barack Obama, and exposed the micro-blogging site's wafer-thin security. The two incidents were enough to draw the Federal Trade Commission's attention, which launched an investigation into the site's security practices.
Twitter has convinced the FTC to call an early end to the probe, allowing it to escape without a penalty. One of the terms of the settlement requires that the micro-blogging site establish a security program and have it reviewed by a neutral party once every year for the next ten years.
The hacker responsible for the first breach was assisted by the fact that the site allowed rapid-fire log-in attempts, making it a sitting duck for a dictionary attack. He used this gaping hole in Twitter's security to hack an employee's account with administrative privileges and a lame password.
Heavy Twitter users living in Toronto who have a habit of posting content a bit more interesting than what they ate for lunch or when they've gone to the bathroom may be able to take to the skies without paying a dime. The offer is a part of a new promotion from Virgin America, which has partnered with Klout, an analytics service that tracks users' influence on the popular microblogging service.
"Virgin America now flies between Toronto and San Francisco or Los Angeles!," the promotional page reads. "Klout is giving away free tickets to influencers to experience this new route. To get started, you simply need to sign in to your Klout Account to see if you qualify."
Those who do will receive free round-trip airfare between Toronto and San Francisco or Los Angeles between June 23 and August 23, 2010, as well as free in-flight Wi-Fi and an invitation to Virgin America's Toronto Launch Event. In return, participants are required to do...nothing.
"If you accept the offer you are not required to do anything," Klout says in its 'Influencer Code of Ethics' section. "We do not want to 'buy' your tweets. You are receiving the product because you are influential and have authority on topics related to the topics. This is a more targeted form of receiving a sample while shopping at the grocery store. You are welcome to tell the world you love the product, you hate the product, or say nothing at all."
If you're a twitter user, you might have noticed the popular social site has been having more downtime than usual this month. According to a new blog post from Twitter, this last month has seen the most Fail Whales since last October. What's to blame for this degradation in service? Well, a big part of it is that everyone and their second cousin is tweeting about the World Cup.
Since the World Cup was a planned event, many have suggested Twitter should have been more prepared. The popular site explains they could never have anticipated the "unprecedented spikes in activity". Twitter says that they are working to make real-time adjustments to their setup to avoid excessive downtime, and a more long-term solution is in the works. How many Fail Whales are you seeing out there?
Looking for a job? Maybe Twitter has a position for you, and about 199 others. Speaking to a reporter after accepting a 2010 Mirrors Award, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said that the microblogging service currently employs about 200 people, a number which he expects to double this year.
"We feel like we’ve come exceedingly far in a very short amount of time, and we definitely feel like we’ve reached something, some point," Stone said. "But the key takeaway for us is that now is not the end. It’s not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning. Twitter is just getting started, and we have a lot of work to do ahead of us."
Twitter, which is still figuring out how best to cash in on the microblogging craze, has been valued at about $1 billion. In April, Twitter rolled out an advertising service that lets advertisers pay to have their tweets show up in the top of search results.
For the last few weeks, all of Twitter has been laughing along with the @BPGlobalPR account as they cut BP to shreds with their dry wit. Twitter has a policy of allowing parody accounts to continue, but will take action if there is genuine confusion. Apparently BP (the real BP) thinks there might be some confusion. The @BPGlobalPR account posted yesterday, "Not sure what we've done wrong, but we've been asked to change our name/profile to indicate that we're 'fake."
Twitter confirmed that BP did ask for the change. "BP requested that the account holder be asked to comply with Twitter's guidelines regarding parody," said Twitter's Sean Garrett. Twitter often asks that popular parody accounts add words like 'fake' to their name to avoid confusion. The new Bio on the Twitter page says, "We are not associated with Beyond Petroleum, the company that has been destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 51 days."
Sources indicate BP is unlikely to try to have the account shut down. At this point, @BPGlobalPR may have become too popular. It currently has an order of magnitude more followers than the real BP.
For the past few months, Twitter has been routing links within Direct Messages through its own link service and wrapping them with a twt.tl URL. By doing so, Twitter has been able to blacklist malicious links, and now the microblogging service wants to extend this functionality to all tweets.
Not just for security reasons, Twitter also recognizes that there isn't yet a way to automatically shorten URLs, leaving it up to users to manage long links on their own with third party services like TinyURL and Bit.ly.
"To meet both of these goals, we're taking small steps to expand the link service currently available in Direct Messages to links shared through all tweets," Twitter stated in a blog post. "We're testing this link service now with a few Twitter employee accounts."
Twitter said it will roll out the service to non-employees later this summer. When it does, long links will be shortened and wrapped with http://t.co/____.
One of the most widely used photo sharing services connected to Twitter, Twitpic, has added a new feature today. Users will now have the ability to tag people in an image before sharing. Twitpic will allow the addition of name as well as Twitter username. When tagging anyone in a pic, Twitpic offers the option to send an @reply to the user being tagged.
This is a feature Facebook has had for some time. The often tight integration of Twitter with this service could provide added benefit similar to that of Facebook. With Twitpics 10 million users and new geolocation service, we're excited to see how people utilize this new function.
Does this sound useful to you, or just another Twitter tie-in you'll never use?
Someone at Sony is a serious cat lover, and we know this because they've gone and assembled a team tasked with building a lifelogging device for felines. It's basically a collar with a camera, acceleration sensor, GPS, and a few other goodies designed to record what your cat Peaches is doing and where she's doing it.
Ready for the kicker? Sony's cat collar can be used with Twitter to automatically posts comments based on what's going on. Using Bluetooth, data is first whisked over to your PC, where the software then logs into your cat's Twitter account (Peaches does have a Twitter account, right?) and posts an update.
Shown off in prototype form, the current version only uses fixed phrases, of which there are 11 so far. You might see an update that says "Meals taste better after a walk," for example, or "This tastes good" when your cat is eating.
More than a few Twitter users on Monday awoke to find that they had no followers when logging into the popular micro-blogging service, though it wasn't anything they said/wrote. Instead, Twitter temporarily reset all follower/following counts to zero in order to stomp out a bug that allowed users to force others to follow them.
"We identified and resolved a bug that permitted a user to "force" other users to follow them. We're now working to rollback all abuse of the bug that took place," the company said.
Before Twitter squashed the bug, all a user had to do was type "accept [username]" to force that person to follow them, including celebrity accounts. It no longer works, of course, and what about those follower/following counts? According to Twitter, everything was back to normal by 11AM Pacific on Monday.
An official Twitter app showed up on the Blackberry platform just a few weeks ago, followed quickly by the acquisition of Tweetie for iPhone. Now Twitter is stamping it's seal of approval on an official Android app. The bad news is that it's only compatible with phones running on Android 2.1. So right now, that means the Nexus One, Moto Droid, Droid Incredible, and a few European only phones.
Upon opening the app, it easy to see why that is. The background is animated and it appears to use some system design themes (like the pop-up contact bar) that are seen in Android 2.1. The speed seems acceptable, especially for a first release. There are also both large and small widgets in the 1.0 version. Most apps don't have this feature out of the gate. There is also baked in Bit.ly support. Presumably, that will be replaced when twitter rolls out its own URL shortener.
Twitter worked directly with Google to design this app, and the code will be open-sourced in the near future. As a possible result of this close interaction, the app is capable of syncing your Twitter contacts right to the phone, if you wanted that for some reason. It's a bummer that older phones are getting left behind right now. Hopefully those people can get a system update at some point, seeing as this will continue to happen. Twitter could also refresh the app for older phones. If you have a compatible Android phone, let us know what you think about the app. It can be found in the Android Market.