When Twitter was first developed, the microblogging service built up a following mostly concentrated in San Francisco. Boy how times have changed. According to Matt Sanford, lead engineer for Twitter's International team, the social networking site is seeing phenomenal growth around the globe.
Over 60 percent of registered Twitter accounts originate from outside the US, Sanford notes, including some from smaller countries like the Vatican City. Technically, there's an even an account that originated from outer space.
Part of Twitter's International success has come from making the service available in different language. When Twitter was made available in Spanish, for example, Sanford says the site saw a 50 percent boost in signups from Spanish-speaking countries. World events also have played a big role, such as the Chilean earthquake, in which signups shot up 12000 percent, almost all of which were from those who use Spanish as their primary language.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Sanford said. "Twitter's realtime information network gets more useful as our users grow more diverse and we're continually impressed with the results."
Update: Last chance to enter! We're drawing the winner this afternoon!
Spring is in the air, and you know what that means. Flowers blooming? Birds singing? Romance in the air? No way. This is Maximum PC, and we celebrate the vernal equinox the same way the ancient druids did: by giving away one bad-ass gaming PC. That's right, we're going to give one lucky reader a $3000 gaming rig from iBUYPOWER, sporting Intel's blistering-fast 6-core Gulftown i7 CPU.
To get your name into the random drawing, you'll need to follow us on Twitter and retweet this message. We'll pick a winner with a random drawing on Monday, April 5, 2010.
Google Buzz is making all the wrong noises. It has been the talking point among privacy and digital rights activists ever since it launched. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a non-profit privacy advocacy group, wasted little time in highlighting several privacy issues with Buzz in a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In fact, it went ahead with the complaint despite Google making some crucial changes to address some of the major concerns.
Now, Google's failure to make Buzz an opt-in service has landed the company in further trouble. This time around, a bipartisan group comprising 11 congressmen has formally raised the matter with the FTC. "We are writing to express our concern over claims that Google's 'Google Buzz' social networking tool breaches online consumer privacy and trust. Due to the high number of individuals whose online privacy is affected by tools like this—either directly or indirectly—we feel that these claims warrant the Commission's review of Google's public disclosure of personal information of consumers through Google Buzz," they wrote in a letter to the FTC. Google would want to avoid a probe by making Buzz an opt-in service.
The real victim here might be Fancois Cousteix, an unemployed Frenchman who goes by the online handle "Hacker Croll." Sure, he's accused of hacking into Twitter and poking around the accounts of President Barack Obama and singers Britney Spears and Lily Allen, but he's a nice guy - just ask him.
"I'm a nice hacker," Cousteix told France 3 television on Thursday, a day after he was released from police questioning.
According to "Hacker Croll," there was no malicious intent, and in fact he wanted to warn Internet users about data security. By breaking into celebrity and high profile accounts. On Twitter.
"He says it's the challenge, the game, that made him do it," said Jean-Yves Coquillat, prosecutor in Clermont-Ferrand, where the suspect will go to trial in June for hacking.
Though he didn't profit from the hacked accounts, Cousteix stands to serve up to two years in prison and a fine of nearly $41,000 if convicted on the charge of breaking into a data system.
It looks like Google isn't the only one wanting to ride the gravy social computing gravy train a la Twitter (though Twitter is still looking for ways to cash in on its microblogging service). Microsoft has big plans too, and it starts with OfficeTalk.
According to what we can glean from Microsoft's Office Labs blog, OfficeTalk is basically a social networking tool somewhat similar to Twitter, but intended for the enterprise market.
"[OfficeTalk] appiles the base capabilities of microblogging to a business environment, enabling employees to post their thoughts, activities, and potentially valuable information to anyone who might be interested," Microsoft wrote. "Like any good researcher, we have tested this concept on ourselves first and insights surfaced quickly."
As it currently stands, Microsoft makes it clear that OfficeTalk isn't a product, but a research project focused on learning how people might use social networking tools at work. The next step, Microsoft says, is to take the OfficeTalk concept, along with other social networking experiments, outside of Redmond's walls and into the hands of a few customers.
How much time do you spend every day sending out Twitter updates to all of your followers? Probably too much time, according to Twitter CEO Evan Williams, who would like to see you spend less time on his microblogging service.
"We have a bit of a dichotomy because there's more and more stuff every day that you may want to follow on Twitter, or search for," Williams said during SXSWi 2010. "Our goal is not to just maximize that -- we understand that people have a limited amount of time and attention and our hope is that Twitter can help you direct your attention in ways that are useful to you.
"So we have no interest in just increasing the time you spend on the Twitter site -- if anything we'd like to decrease it. We want to make Twitter a tool for you that helps you get stuff done."
Put another way, Williams wants to "increase the signal-to-noise ratio" and give Twitter users more valuable information with less effort. This begs the question, what exactly is Twitter?
"The funny thing about being an information network is that it's kind of like saying 'what is the internet?' -- it's an information network. 'What's it for?' -- it's kind of hard to narrow that down, because it depends on who you are and what you need at the time. And that's like Twitter."
In a blog post earlier this week, Del Harvey, director of Twitter's Trust and Safety team, said the microblogging service is taking a proactive approach to detect and eliminate phishing scams and malicious links.
"Today, we're launching a new service to protect users that strikes a major blow against phishing and other deceitful attacks," Harvey wrote. "By routing all links submitted to Twitter through this new service, we can detect, intercept, and prevent the spread of bad links across all of Twitter. Even if a bad link is already sent out in an email notification and somebody clicks on it, we'll be able to keep that user safe."
As part of this new system, you might see links shortened to twt.ti, but other than that, the service will work behind the scenes. Harvey also said that initial efforts will be put on Direct Messages and email notifications, since those are the areas the attacks primarily occur.
Well that didn't take very long. In just under four years time, Twitter bolted past 10 billion tweets, serving up its 10 billionth message last week. So what did the milestone message say and who posted it? Nobody knows, as it belongs to a protected user.
Visible or not, the message underscores the continuing popularity of the microblogging service, which doesn't appear to be losing any steam (sorry Google Buzz). According to Mashable.com, Twitter posted its one billionth tweet back in November 2008, and five billion tweets only four months ago.
As it stands now, Twitter says its service pumps out about 50 million messages every day, up from 2.5 million about a year ago, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Listen up, Windows 7 aficionados: This one's for you. You've no doubt noticed your operating system's lack of location-based functionality. Unlike Apple's competing OSX, which can triangulate your system's position based on the geographical locations of nearby WiFi hotspots, you can't really... well. You can't do any of that on Microsoft's platform. While you might not need to know exactly where your desktop is (hint: your dwelling), it would sure be nice to have this feature for a more mobile system.
And that's not even in the, "I'm lost in the wilderness and I see a bear help" sense. Wouldn't it be great to automatically have the weather displayed for your current location on your Windows sidebar? If you use Twitter (and yes, readers, I realize you hate Twitter), you could just as easily pull up a listing of messages centered around your particular location: "I just ate a great meal here," or "@bear2 There is a silly human wandering around here; I will eat him," et cetera.
Well, Microsoft hasn't come to your rescue on this one--a third-party developer has created an free application that allows you tap into the wonders of geolocation all by your lonesome. Go fetch your laptop from the other room, then click the jump!
In a blog post on Monday, Twitter announced it has opened up its full data feed of all public tweets (otherwise known as a "Firehose") to seven new startups, and would like to partner up with even more.
"We are thrilled to announce that Ellerdale, Collecta, Kosmix, Scoopler, twazzup, CrowdEye, and Chainn Search join us as partners," Twitter wrote. "These companies range from funded startups to part-time, one-person operations so we cam up with a fair way to license access that scales with their business. If you think there may be a potential partnership involving access to the Firehose, let's start a conversation. Our emails is firstname.lastname@example.org."
Twitter has already partnered with a handful of industry heavyweights, including Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft. According to Twitter, there are now more than fifty thousand "interesting applications" that are currently using its freely available, rate-limited platform offerings.