Twitter banning Bit.ly, other URL Shortners on Direct Messages (DM)

Twitter logoToday I was trying to send a direct message to a friend. Included was a bit.ly link to a page I needed him to see. For some reason, Twitter kept saying there was an error and cannot send the DM. After checking his page to make sure he was still following me and sending a couple test DMs successfully, I realized the problem was the bit.ly link.

I did a search and found that indeed – Twitter was blocking DMs with bit.ly links. They found many different links could not be sent via DMs. CBS.com was one of those who were blocked by Twitter DMs.

Of course, this is because of Twitter allowing n0n-followers to DM people. You have to opt-in to the option, but with this you can get messages from many different people.

The Twitter error Message Needs to Be Fixed

So direct messaging with a link could come back saying the person might not be following you. That could be totally confusing – especially if you know they are. I almost chalked it up as a twitter database error but decided to check and see if there was any changes.

The only advantage of allowing non-followers to DM is if your Twitter account is a corporate one or you have over 10,000 followers and don’t want to follow them all back.

The Problem with Blocking Bit.ly – the Mask-Around

Spammers are smart and/or intuitive. Instead of using bit.ly, they’ll use another system that gets around the twitter issue. Twitter might then block that, but in the meantime, you don’t see a bit.ly link – you see a My.website link. Give a spammer/hacker 2-3 days with an $8 /year website domain and they could make enough to buy another $8 domain and start the process over again.

Of course this is a very common problem with url shorteners. Tiny URL added spam block and virus protect tools shortly after they started. Bit.ly also has some preventative measures (using companies like Sophos, Verisign, Websense and more). Still, they are not responsible for 3rd party content using their links.

Bottom Line – Don’t click on unknown links

Usually bad links start with “Hey, is this you” or “I got a way you can make money” which really translates to “I got a way for ME to make money using you”. If you choose to opt-in to letting anyone DM you, keep in mind you will get spam in your message box. If you don’t feel confident you can sniff out the good from bad, then simply don’t check the box.

Yes, Twitter was Down Today

Twitter Support logoAre you among the many who had difficulties with Twitter today? For most, this meant that their Tweets were not posting and that they could not view photos, or click on links, posted by other users of Twitter. TechCrunch reports that the outage lasted about 41 minutes.

Twitter confirmed the outage with a Tweet from its Twitter Support account:

They suggested people find updates by going to status.twitter.com. Note that the link was not clickable (at least for me) in the Tweet from Twitter Support. I’ve tried going to the suggested website many times, but all I’m getting is a server error.

However, Huffington Post eports that around 5:20 p.m. ET, Twitter posted a blog saying that the issue has been resolved. According to Huffington Post, an explanation was given:

Due to a routine change, Twitter was not available from 1:08 pm PDT to 1:33pm PDT. We rolled back the erroneous change as soon as we identified the issue. Additionally, some users may have experienced Tweet delivery delay from 1:33pm PDT and 1:53pm PDT. We apologize for the inconvenience.

It looks like everyone can relax now. I admit I was concerned about what happened to Twitter after I read an article from the New York Times that quoted Turkey’s leader, Mr. Erdogan, as saying something I found to be rather ominous, considering the recent events in Turkey:

“Now we have a menace that is called Twitter,” he said. “The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society”.

Vine Comes to Android: Get Your Wil Sasso Lemon Skits On…

Vine-on-AndroidVine is the Twitter service that will let you push a six second video to your Twitter and Facebook fans. For a long time you could do that on your iOS devices. This morning, Twitter’s Blog announced Vine will be available for Android devices.

One interesting feature Vine has is the stop-motion option. You only record when your finger is on the record screen. Therefore, a lot of creators have been using the stop-motion capture to move action figures, show the day pass by or what Wil Sasso did – Spit out lemons.

Vine is absolutely free and available by Twitter – who bought the company in October 2012 (only a couple months after launch). On April 9th, 2013 Vine became the #1 most downloaded app on the iOS store.

Twitter Adds Two Step Verification System

Twitter logoWhen Burger King got hacked, we all laughed at the idea McDonalds might have bought it. When the Associated Press got hacked, we noticed. But it took the Onion in getting hacked for Twitter to finally do something…

Twitter rolled out a two-step verification system for users to get extra protection against would-be hackers. The verification method includes a special code that is sent via phone when they try to log in. With this extra step using a cell phone, hackers can become thwarted in trying to access an account.

This is not a new process – Facebook and Google both give this second verification step in your security features. Its better than a password because you don’t need to remember one. Its also better than a “name your pet” verification because in some cases (like Sarah Palin) people know that information.

“Today we’re introducing a new security feature to better protect your Twitter account: login verification,” says Jimio from the Twitter Product Security Team on the Twitter blog. “With login verification enabled, your existing applications will continue to work without disruption. If you need to sign in to your Twitter account on other devices or apps, visit your applications page to generate a temporary password to log in and authorize that application.

If you choose not to opt in you run risk of getting hacked. Of course, you also need to keep your phone numbers up-to-date. If that changes, you might have problems getting into your accounts.

If your Twitter Gets Hacked

First, attempt to change your password. If you still can’t log in, contact Twitter through a Support request. (choosing “Hacked account” from the list of options).

The Problem With Promoted Tweets

Twitter logoPromoted Tweets are Twitter’s way of raising revenue. I cannot really fault them for creating a way to make money on a service that everyone can use for free. However, it seems like I’m getting more Promoted Tweets that do not match my interests than ones that do.

One very clear example of Promoted Tweets gone wrong involves a religious online university. The first Promoted Tweet I saw from them seemed to be trying to point out where I could get more information about their upcoming courses.

I replied to their Promoted Tweet to tell them that I was not their target audience. I noted that I was not the religion they were connected with. I said I had no children (so wouldn’t be putting them through college). I even told them that I had finished college and wasn’t intending to go back. Of course, I shortened my tweet so as to fit it within Twitter’s 140 character limit.

A couple of days later, there was another Promoted Tweet in my stream from the exact same religious online university. I found this to be annoying. This is when I realized that there is no “opt-out” button to prevent unwanted Promoted Tweets. I replied to the religious online university again. This time, I made it clear that I had already told them that I was not interested, and that I had no other choice now except to block them.

The information on Twitter’s Promoted Tweets page says that it is possible to target which accounts will see your Promoted Tweet based on geography, interests, gender, or by what mobile device the person uses to access Twitter. Maybe the university decided to just “spam” all of Twitter, instead of refining their target?

It also says that people who buy a Promoted Tweet only pay for engagement:

Since you only pay when people click on, favorite, reply, or retweet your Promoted Tweets, your budget gets used efficiently on Twitter.

This means that the university is paying for the two negative replies I sent to its Promoted Tweets. I’ve also gotten a Promoted Tweet from the governor of a state that I do not live in (and whose political views I don’t happen to agree with). I got another from a Senator who doesn’t represent my state or my political viewpoints. I’m certainly not following any of those accounts, so I cannot imagine why I’ve been targeted to see their Promoted Tweets.

So, that’s four Promoted Tweets that do not seem to be for me. Compare that to the one Promoted Tweet I got from a company that makes gluten free foods (and whom I am following). To me, it seems that Promoted Tweets are ineffective.

Twitter releases #music for web and iOS

We have been hearing about a Twitter Music service for the past week, but it has been all rumors so far….until today. Music.twitter.com officially launched this morning.

It uses all of the activity on Twitter (such as tweets and general engagement) to identify the most popular tracks and emerging artists and allows you to listen to previews from Apple iTunes. However, if you have an Rdio or Spotify account, then you can log in to those and check out the full tracks.

The service is initially available in the US, UK and Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, but more countries will be added over time.

The app, for now at least, is only for the web and iOS, but Twitter promises that Android will be coming soon. However, there is no word on availability for the Windows Phone fans out there or for Blackberry users.

twitter music

“Twitter and music go great together. People share and discover new songs and albums every day. Many of the most-followed accounts on Twitter are musicians, and half of all users follow at least one musician. This is why artists turn to Twitter first to connect with their fans — and why we wanted to find a way to surface songs people are tweeting about. We offered music artists an early look at the service. You can see some of their reactions below. We hope you like it, too”

 

YouTube Prepares to Announce a Winner

Fool's Day stampApril 1st has been described as the absolute worst day to go on the internet. Pranks abound, and, if they are good enough, you just might find yourself believing them. Personally, I find the plethora of April Fool’s Day jokes to be very amusing. Here’s a quick review of a couple (just in case you missed them).

Twitter posted a blog called “Annncng: Twttr”. The blog says that, starting April 1, there will be a change.

Starting today, we are shifting to at two-tiered service: Everyone can use our basic service, Twttr, but you only get consonants. For five dollars a month, you can use our premium “Twitter” service which also includes vowels.

The blog points out that “Y” should always be free to everyone – today and forever and that it will be included in the free Twttr service. Read the full blog for the inspiration behind the idea.

The Guardian has launched new “augmented reality” specs that have been specially designed to offer immersive liberal insight. They are called Guardian Goggles.

The device will enable users to “see the world through the Guardian’s eyes at all time”. Users will get an overlay of a real-time stream of opinions from The Guardian that are connected to whatever the user is looking at – be it a restaurant or a cinema. The article goes on to say the Guardian Goggles will also feature an optional built-in “anti-bigotry technology” that will automatically block out certain columns “as soon as the user attempts to look at them.”

Google has been busy! It announced it’s new Google Blue which is ready, after 6 years of developing the technology for it. According to Richard Pargo, Project Manager for Goole Blue was:

How do we completely re-design and re-create something, by keeping it exactly the same?

There’s more! Google has added a special feature to it’s search engine. Under the regular box, it says: “What’s that smell? Find out with Google Nose”. It is currently in beta. Users can “take a whiff” of the Google Aromabase, which includes 15M+ scentibytes. For the first time, ever, you can share a smell with your friends! There is SafeSearch function for users who are “wary of their query”.

YouTube will be shutting down, forever, at midnight, April 1, 2013. Their video explains that they will stop taking submissions at that time and will begin reviewing each and every video in search of a winner.

Image: Stock-Vector-Fool-s-Day-Stamp by BigStock

Is the New Pope Using Social Media?

PontifexWe live in a world where the Pope can Tweet. Pope Benedict XVI was on Twitter. His handle was @Pontifex which sent out Tweets in English. There was also @Pontifex_ es (which was in Spanish and was the one I was following). All told, there were 8 different language versions of @Pontifex on Twitter.

Pope Benedict XVI was the first Pope to use Twitter. Although he was not the first Pope to retire, he was the first do so in the past 600 years. This brings up the question: What does one do with the Twitter accounts of a retired Pope? This was not a question that anyone had to think about before, as there was no Twitter, or internet, 600 years ago.

Here’s what ended up happening. Pope Benedict XVI decided that the next Pope would have to decide for himself whether or not he wanted to Tweet. The @Pontifex accounts became inactive during the interim between Pope Benedict XVI retiring and the election of his successor, Pope Francis I. The Tweets sent out by the retired Pope were deleted.

On March 13, 2013, the @Pontifex account(s) sent out identical Tweets in Latin that said: HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCIUM. Now, was this sent out by Pope Francis I, or by someone else in the Vatican on his behalf? The word on the internet is that it was from the newly elected Pope. Now, we wait to see if he decides to continue to Tweet.

Meanwhile, several cyber squatters swooped in to buy every possible iteration of Pope Francis domain names. That was probably to be expected. The unexpected story, though, involves a Chicago lawyer named Chris Connors who somehow bought the domain name popefrancis.com from GoDaddy.com in 2010 – long before there was any expectation that there would be a Pope Francis I. Lawyer Chris Connors has started the process of giving the domain name to the newly elected Pope.

As far as I can tell, Pope Francis I is not on Facebook (at least, not yet). There is a Pope Francis page written entirely in English that says “Not an official page”. There also is one called Cadenal Jorge Bergoglio that entirely in Spanish. It was set up by two women to respectfully support him, and is also not an official page.

Twitter Now Allows Line Breaks!

twitter-bird-white-on-bluePoetry is an art form that has been around for centuries. As such, it doesn’t easily fit into some forms of social media. This is something I can speak first hand about. My Twitter name is @queenofhaiku, which I selected because I enjoy writing these simple looking (but deceptively complex) three lined poems.

Up until recently, I had to resort to putting a slash in between the lines of the haiku. Sometimes, people “get” that I have written a Tweet that is a haiku, and other times I get confused replies from those who don’t recognize it as poetry. The slash I had to put in between the lines made things a bit unclear for new followers (and for people who didn’t know what a haiku was).

Those days are over! Twitter has given all of us the ability to use line breaks in a Tweet. From now on, I can write haiku on Twitter and have it appear in three lines, (the way it is supposed to be presented). To the poets of the internet, this is incredibly exciting news! Twitter didn’t make a huge, formal, announcement about the change. Instead, they presented it this way:

Twitter Line Breaks

Naturally, I couldn’t wait to try out the new ability to use line breaks. I have been waiting for this since I started using Twitter! It is so very nice when technology becomes a bit more accessible for poetry (and other forms of art). Let me share with you my very first haiku – that uses line breaks – on Twitter:

My Line Break Haiku

You May Have to Reset Your Twitter Password

twitter-bird-white-on-blueDid you get a rather ominous sounding email from Twitter today? If so, you are not alone. Twitter sent out email today to users whom it felt may have been affected by the unauthorized attempts to access Twitter user data. I first heard of this because my husband received one of these scary sounding emails. Shortly after he dealt with it, a few of his friends on Twitter mentioned that they got the email, too.

There is a post on the Twitter Blog called “Keeping Our Users Secure”. It says:

This week, we detected unusual access patterns that led us to identifying unauthorized access attempts to Twitter user data. We discovered one live attack and were able to shut it down in process moments later. However, our investigation has thus far indicated that the attackers may have had access to limited user information – usernames, email addresses, session tokens, and encrypted/salted versions of passwords – for approximately 250,000 users.

If one of the 250,000 was you, then Twitter either already has sent you an email about it, (or will be doing so shortly). The social media company suggests that affected users change their password. There are details about what Twitter considers the characteristics of a strong password to include on their blog.

Twitter also repeats the advisory from the United States Department of Homeland Security that encourages users to disable Java on their browsers. Twitter does not specifically state who the attack came from, but it does say this:

This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident. The attackers were extremely sophisticated, and we believe other companies and organizations have also been recently similarly attacked.