Tag Archives: Twitter

Verified Twitter Accounts were Hacked for a Crypto Scam



Those who looked at Twitter earlier today may have noticed some very unusual tweets from accounts that have a blue checkmark. TechCrunch reported that these high-profile accounts were simultaneously hacked and used to spread a cryptocurrency scam.

According to TechCrunch, the hackers started by targeting cryptocurrency focused accounts like @bitcoin, @ripple, @coindesk, @coinbase, and @binance. It is possible that those who follow those accounts might not understand that this was a scam.

The first hacked tweet I saw was from the Joe Biden verified account. Someone took a screenshot of what appeared to be Joe Biden tweeting “I am giving back to the community. All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled! If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000. Only doing this for 30 minutes”. The tweet included a bitcoin address. (The screenshot was posted on social media that was not Twitter.)

I was immediately suspicious. Joe Biden doesn’t seem to me to be the kind of person who would tweet about Bitcoin. And now, we know that it certainly wasn’t him who posted that tweet.

Apple’s verified Twitter account also had a post about doubling the cryptocurrency sent to it. This, too, is extremely suspicions. Apple has never posted a tweet. Why would anyone believe that the first tweet Apple chose to post was about doubling your cryptocurrency? People who saw these tweets should have realized that something was wrong.

That said, some of the verified accounts that got hacked were ones that might sound convincing. For example, Elon Musk’s Twitter account was hacked. He has been known to post unexpected things on Twitter (such as his opinion on the stock price of Tesla). Kanye West, who recently decided to run for president, also seems like someone who just might decide to double people’s cryptocurrency on a whim.

The @Wendy’s account also got hacked. Would Wendy’s decide to “give back” to the community with cryptocurrency? Considering how snarky the Wendy’s account tends to be, some people might think the tweet was real.

This takeaway from this situation is that you should not believe everything you see on social media. It also makes it abundantly clear that social media is not as secure as you might think (or hope) it is.


Twitter is Rolling Out an Audio Tweet Feature



Twitter is rolling out a feature that will enable users to tweet with their voice. The ability to create voice tweets will be available to a limited group of people on Twitter on iOS to start, but in the coming weeks everyone on iOS should be able to tweet with their voice.

Twitter is where you go to talk about what’s happening. Over the years, photos, videos, gifs, and extra characters have allowed you to add your own flair and personality to your conversations. But sometimes 280 characters aren’t enough and some conversational nuances are lost in translation. So starting today, we’re testing a new feature that will add a more human touch to the way we use Twitter – your very own voice.

After recording your voice for 140 seconds, a new voice tweet starts automatically to create a thread. Right now, it is not possible to tweet with audio through replies or Retweets with Comment.

One thing to know is that your current profile photo will be added as a static image on your voice tweet. You can change your profile photo any time you want, but the one you used while recording a specific voice tweet will not change.

My hope is that this feature will be used to make Twitter more authentic. Hearing a person’s voice makes it easier to understand what they were trying to say, whereas text could be misinterpreted.

Tweets done entirely in audio are not going to be accessible for people who are deaf. Hopefully, Twitter will make sure that a transcription accompanies each voice tweet. They could add it under the profile photo and match it to the pace of the tweeter’s voice.

I have some concerns that nefarious users might try to use audio tweets as a way to get around Twitter’s fact-checkers, who might not be prepared to review audio as quickly as they do text.

It remains to be seen whether or not politicians will shift to audio tweets. Anyone can quickly read a tweet to know what it says. But, the content of audio tweets is only accessible if you click on them and listen. Audio tweets might shorten the reach of politicians, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


Twitter Removed Inauthentic Networks of Accounts



Twitter disclosed 32,242 accounts to their archives of state-linked information operations. The account sets recently published to the archives include three distinct operations that Twitter has attributed to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Russia, and Turkey.

Twitter states that every account and piece of content associate with these operations has been permanently removed from the service.

According to Twitter, the PRC disclosure relates to two interconnected sets of accounts. One set has 23,750 accounts that comprise the core of the network. They had low follower accounts and low engagement.

The other set had approximately 150,000 amplifier accounts, designed to boost the things the first group posted. The core group of accounts were caught early and failed to receive consider traction on Twitter. The majority of the 150,000 amplifier accounts had little to no follower counts and were strategically designed to artificially inflate impression metrics and engage with the core accounts.

These groups predominantly tweeted in Chinese languages and spread geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China (CCP). They also posted deceptive narratives about the political dynamics of Hong Kong.

The Russia network of 1,152 accounts were suspended for violations of Twitter’s platform manipulation policy, specifically for cross-posting and amplifying content in an inauthentic, coordinated manner for political ends. These accounts promoted the United Russia Party and attacked political dissidents.

The Turkey network of 7,340 accounts were suspended for inauthentic activity, primarily targeted at domestic accounts in Turkey. It was a collection of fake and compromised accounts that were used to amplify political narratives favorable to the AK Parti, and demonstrated support for President Erdogan.

Personally, I think Twitter is making a good start with these efforts – but it could still do more. It would be good for Twitter to look into networks of inauthentic accounts that tweet in English, and that are politically motivated. One of the things that bothers me about Twitter is the plethora of inauthentic accounts that clutter up the place.


Mark Zuckerberg Defended Leaving Up Trump’s Posts



Facebook and Twitter are very different social media platforms. Recently, the differences have become vividly clear, as we see how each platform chooses how they will respond to controversial content posted by President Trump.

The Verge obtained a recording of an extended conference with employees in which Mark Zuckerberg addressed accusations that Facebook allowed election misinformation and veiled promotions of violence from President Trump. According to The Verge, Mark Zuckerberg stood by what he described as a “pretty thorough” evaluation of Trump’s posts. Zuckerberg reportedly said that the choice to avoid labeling them or removing them was difficult but correct.

As you may have heard, Twitter added a fact-check to two of President Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots. Twitter also flagged another tweet made by President Trump because it violated Twitter’s rules about glorifying violence. It should be noted that all three of those tweets are still on Twitter. Those who want to read them can simply click a link to view them.

There has been some pushback. President Trump issued an executive order that some see as intended to curtail free speech on Twitter’s platform. Personally, I think that President Trump should have read Twitter’s policies about what is, and is not, allowed on their platform. If he had done that, and acted accordingly, there would be no need for that executive order.

The Guardian reported that Facebook staff held a virtual walkout to show their disagreement with Mark Zuckerberg’s decision regarding posts by President Trump. Some took to Twitter to express their displeasure. Facebook Software Engineer Timothy J. Aveni, resigned in response to Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to leave up Trump’s post that called for violence. The Hill reported that Owen Anderson, another Facebook employee, announced his departure from the company on Twitter.

Overall, I think that people who are fans of President Trump are going to take his side of the situation no matter what. Those who dislike Facebook and/or Mark Zuckerberg’s decision making process, might choose to leave that platform. Those angry with Twitter may quit that platform. None of this is going to lead to healthier versions of either Facebook or Twitter, and I miss the days before the politicians invaded social media.


Twitter Added Fact-Check to Trump’s Tweets for the First Time



Twitter has done something that I never thought they would actually do. They corrected the misinformation in two of President Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots. According to The Washington Post, this is the first time Twitter has labeled Trump’s tweets with a fact-check.

CNN, which does not require a subscription in order to read things posted on their website, wrote the following:

On Tuesday, Twitter highlighted two of Trump’s tweets that falsely claimed mail-in ballots would lead to widespread voter fraud, appending a message that the company has introduced to combat misinformation and disputed or unverified claims.

The two tweets posted by President Trump that contained misinformation about mail-in ballots have been marked by Twitter with blue text underneath each tweet. The blue text starts with an exclamation point inside a circle. It says: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots”. Clicking on that link leads to a fact-checked curation of information that debunks the misinformation that was posted by the President.

Personally, I think Twitter made the right decision on adding the fact-check link to those two tweets. Doing so follows Twitter’s policy regarding “rule breaking tweets of public officials”. The policy states that when a tweet has a notice placed on it, it will feature less prominently on Twitter. The tweets will no longer appear in: Safe search, Timeline when switched to Top Tweets, Live event pages, Recommended Tweet push notifications, Notifications tab, or Explore.

If nothing else, Twitter’s decision to post a fact-check label on two of President Trump’s tweets sets a precedent. Twitter can do this again, if need be.


Twitter is Testing New Conversation Settings



Twitter announced that it is testing new conversations settings. These settings give the person who posts a tweet more control over who can reply to it. Individual users will have the ability to choose who can reply to their tweet and who can join that conversation.

Before you Tweet, you’ll be able to choose who can reply with three options: everyone (standard Twitter, the default setting), only people you follow, or only people you mention. Tweets with the latter two settings will be labeled and the reply icon will be grayed out so that it’s clear for people if they can’t reply. People who can’t reply will still be able to view, Retweet, Retweet with Comment, and like these Tweets.

The Twitter announcement of this new feature was written by Director of Product Management Suzanne Xie. She wrote: Twitter is where you go to see and talk about what’s happening. But sometimes, unwanted replies make it hard to have meaningful conversations. (Ahem, reply guys.)

I think she brings up a very good point. There are many of us on Twitter who mostly use the platform to talk to our friends. Nobody wants some random person to jump into that conversation with a mean comment in an attempt to derail the conversation or to start an argument. Those people make Twitter an unpleasant place to be. It sounds like Twitter’s new feature – after it rolls out completely – will make it impossible for reply guys to hassle people in the way that they do now.

Another interesting thing about this is that it has the potential to limit the spread of the garbage posted by trollbots. Right now, the only thing people can do is block and report trollbots, and hope Twitter removes them. The new feature would function as a filter that prevents trollbots from spreading misinformation, conspiracy theories, and other nonsense in the way that they do now.


Facebook and Twitter Removed Accounts with Ties to Russia’s IRA



Facebook and Twitter have both stated that they have removed accounts that were operating out of Ghana and Nigeria, and that had ties to Russia’s IRA. This comes after CNN’s investigation uncovered activity that “had striking similarities to the Russian troll campaign of 2016, which created hundreds of accounts designed to pass as American”.

According to CNN, Facebook and Twitter had already been looking into some of the troll accounts when CNN notified the two companies of their investigation. Facebook announced:

Today, we removed 49 Facebook accounts, 69 Pages and 85 Instagram accounts for engaging in foreign interference – which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign actor – on Facebook, Instagram, and other internet platforms. This network was in the early stages of building an audience and was operated by local nationals – some wittingly and unwittingly – in Ghana and Nigeria on behalf of individuals in Russia. It targeted primarily the United States.

Facebook stated that they detected this network as a result of their internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior ahead of US elections. They note that their assessment benefited from their subsequent collaboration with a team of journalists at CNN. Facebook said it shared information with their industry peers, policy makers, and law enforcement.

Twitter, as you might expect, posted a thread of tweets about about the situation. The thread started with: “Our top priority is keeping people safe. In collaboration with law enforcement, industry peers, journalists, and expert researchers, we recently suspended a small network of accounts largely Tweeting in English and that presented themselves as based in the United States.”

The next tweet in the thread said: “These 71 removed accounts, operating out of Ghana and Nigeria and which we can reliably associate with Russia, attempted to sow discord by engaging in conversations about social issues, like race and civil rights.”

It would be smart to keep this in situation in mind as you use Facebook or Twitter. There is no logical reason to assume that every account you see is authentic. If you read or watch something on social media that causes you to feel angry or outraged, please wait a few minutes before sharing it. The account it came from just might be a troll – hoping to affect your emotional state so much that you share the content as quickly as possible. Don’t help the trolls!