Tag Archives: Twitter

Twitter cuts suspect users from follower counts again, blames bug
November 10, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) made another attempt to make users’ tallies of followers more accurate on Friday, subtracting millions of suspicious followers which had reappeared on the social media service since a major purge in July.

Men are silhouetted against a video screen with a Twitter logo as he poses with a Samsung S4 smartphone in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA – Tags: BUSINESS TELECOMS)

Twitter is under pressure to tackle its problem of fake users, which are a turn-off for investors and advertisers and have led to scrutiny from U.S. Congress.

The company made Friday’s move without an announcement. Pop star Katy Perry lost about 861,000 followers, according to social measurement firm Social Blade. Twitter’s own account lost 2.4 million followers.

In July, Twitter said it would stop counting accounts it “locked” as followers, in an effort to make its user data more accurate. At least seven celebrities lost as many as 2 million followers each.

By October, however, many of those accounts appeared to have been unlocked – which can happen after a password reset – and at least two dozen popular users had gained back a third or so of the lost followers, according to data from Russian ad fraud researcher Social Puncher.

Those followers disappeared once again on Friday, Social Puncher said.

Twitter said on Friday that it “discovered a bug where some of these accounts were briefly added back, which led to misleading follower counts” for “very few accounts.”

It said in July that follower counts might change “more regularly” as part of its efforts to “identify and challenge problematic accounts.” The ensuing volatility has caught the attention of prominent users, including U.S. President Donald Trump and Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk.

They and other users lost followers in recent days, but Friday’s cull was larger for most, according to several accounts Reuters reviewed on Social Blade.

Twitter’s own account fell by 7.8 million followers in July but gained back 2.36 million by mid-October. It lost 2.4 million on Friday, according to Social Blade.

Some users experienced a similar drop in early October, before the followers returned days later, Social Puncher said.

The firm told Reuters that it suspects the affected locked accounts are controlled by fraudsters who sell followers to artificially boost accounts’ popularity.

The accounts exhibit hallmarks of fakes, including few profile details, fans and posts, it said.

MarQuis Trill, a Los Angeles advertising producer, told Reuters that he bought 300,000 followers for $ 4,500 two years ago. He lost nearly 2.2 million followers in July, but had about 30 percent back until Friday’s purge.

“I didn’t buy that many to be losing like that,” he said.

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Bill Rigby

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Twitter ad sales surge in third quarter, shares jump
October 25, 2018 12:01 pm|Comments (0)

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Twitter Inc posted revenue and profit ahead of Wall Street estimates on Thursday, as higher advertising sales offset a drop in monthly users to push the company’s shares up nearly 12 percent before the opening bell.

People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo

Quarterly advertising revenue jumped 29 percent from a year earlier to $ 650 million, boosted by advertiser interest in broadcasts from media companies including Live Nation Entertainment, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer.

That drove a similar rise in overall revenue from a year earlier to $ 758 million, beating an average analyst estimate of $ 702.6 million, according to Refinitiv data. The company reported adjusted profit of 21 cents per share, well above an average forecast of 14 cents.

However, Twitter posted a larger-than-expected decline in monthly active users in the third quarter, its second straight quarterly drop, and predicted the figure would fall again in the fourth quarter.

It blamed the declines in users on efforts to clean up the site from suspicious users, including accounts used in political influence operations, as well as its response to new privacy regulations in the European Union.

Monthly active users fell to 326 million in the third quarter, below the average analyst forecast of 331.5 million, according to FactSet. Twitter said it expects them to drop below 326 million in the current quarter, missing the average forecast of 333.4 million.

Twitter is fighting for its reputation by cutting and blocking fake users, but the toll on traffic is undermining faith in is ability to grow. Recent business progress has focused on getting current users to click on more ads, which has helped Twitter turn to a profit.

An illustration picture shows the Twitter logo reflected in the eye of a woman in Berlin, November 7, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/Illustration/File photo

Analysts have warned that Twitter needs to stem declines in user growth so it can better compete for ad spending with rivals including Alphabet Inc’s Google, and Facebook Inc. Investors pay close attention to monthly user data because it is seen as a key indicator of future revenue, the bulk of which comes from ad sales.

Twitter’s usage has been stagnant for more than a year, causing analysts to worry that growth may have peaked.

Those concerns have been somewhat offset by increases in advertising sales from video which suggest the company is succeeding in efforts to generate more cash from each user.

Investors are looking to understand the financial impact of Twitter’s moves to clean up its platform by deleting accounts used for fraud, hate speech and election interference.

Twitter has removed millions of suspicious accounts this year including those that belong to Alex Jones and his conspiracy site Infowars.

“We’re doing a better job detecting and removing spammy and suspicious accounts at sign-up,” Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said in a statement.

Twitter said the number of its daily active users rose by 9 percent year-on-year, weaker than an 11 percent jump in the previous quarter and its slowest growth rate in two years. The company does not disclose the total number of daily users.

Twitter shares tumbled 19 percent when the company reported quarterly results on July 27. Its stock has fallen 36 percent since that earnings report, compared to a 6.4 percent decline in the S&P 500 index.

Of the 40 analysts polled by FactSet, 10 have a buy rating on the stock while 24 have a hold rating. Six have a sell rating. The average target price is at $ 32.91, about 16 percent higher Tuesday’s close of $ 27.54.

Reporting by Angela Moon and Munsif Vengattil; Editing by Jim Finkle and Patrick Graham

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3 Ways Russian-Linked Entities Stoked Controversy on Facebook, Twitter
October 20, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

New charges against a Russian national for allegedly trying to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and upcoming midterms reveal the creative techniques that Kremlin-linked groups have used to sow discontent among Americans.

The Department of Justice said Friday that it filed criminal charges against Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova for her alleged role with the Russian propaganda operation “Project Lakhta.” This operation, according to the complaint, oversaw multiple Russian-linked entities like the Internet Research Agency that lawmakers say spread fake news and ginned up controversy on Twitter and Facebook.

Russia has denied any disinformation campaign.

Here’s some interesting takeaways from the lawsuit:

Capitalizing on polarized topics of national interest

The complaint alleges that the Russian groups grasped onto polarized issues like gun control, race relations, and immigration to further divide the U.S. populace. They spread both liberal and conservative viewpoints to various groups on social media, tailoring the message to each one, including choosing which publication to share on them.

One unnamed Russian cited in the complaint allegedly said, ” If you write posts in a liberal group,…you must not use Breitbart titles. On the contrary, if you write posts in a conservative group, do not use Washington Post or Buzzfeed’s titles.”

The Russian groups appeared to practice their own form of racism, with one member reportedly saying “Colored LGTB are less sophisticated than white; therefore, complicated phrases and messages do not work.”

The groups apparently discovered that “infographics work well among LGTB and their liberal allies,” while conservatives appeared to be indifferent to graphics.

Spinning the news

Members of the Russian entities were well versed in summarizing popular news stories and spinning them in a way that would antagonize Americans. The entities created a Facebook group dubbed “Secure Borders” that would aggregate news stories and then sensationalize them to draw emotional responses.

Here’s an example of one way the Russian groups discussed among themselves about how to spin a news story about the late John McCain’s criticism of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

“Brand McCain as an old geezer who has lost it and who long ago belonged in a home for the elderly. Emphasize that John McCain’s pathological hatred towards Donald Trump and towards all his initiatives crosses all reasonable borders and limits. State that dishonorable scoundrels, such as McCain, immediately aim to destroy all the conservative voters’ hopes as soon as Trump tries to fulfill his election promises and tries to protect the American interests.”

Creating fake user accounts on Facebook and Twitter

The Russian groups couldn’t have spread propaganda as effectively if they used their real identities. Instead, they created fake profiles on the social media to do things like promote protests and rallies and to post divisive and hateful content.

For instance, the fictitious New York City resident “Bertha Malone” created 400 Facebook posts that allegedly contained “inflammatory political and social content focused primarily on immigration and Islam.”

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The “Malone” personal also communicated with an unnamed real Facebook user to assist in posting content and managing a Facebook group called “Stop A.I.”

On March 9, 2018, a fake Twitter user named @JohnCopper16 attempted to influence Twitter users by commenting on President Trump’s recent summit with North Korean President Kim Jong Un:

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Twitter, Facebook launch tools to track advertising
June 28, 2018 6:22 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) on Thursday made it easier for users to identify political campaign ads and know who paid for them, as social media platforms faced the threat of U.S. regulation over the lack of disclosure on such spending.

FILE PHOTO: People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

The microblogging site launched ‘Ads Transparency Center’ to allow anyone to view ads that have been put on Twitter, with greater transparency about U.S. federal election campaign ads.

The tool follows Twitter’s recently launched political campaign ads policy and a similar move by Facebook Inc (FB.O), which started a searchable archive of U.S. political ads last month.

Facebook said on Thursday it would go even further by enabling users to see listings of all active ad campaigns, whether the advertiser is political in nature or not. Users can also view a log of name changes to a Facebook page.

The features should help people spot misuse of Facebook, it added.

Twitter’s ads center gives users access to details such as demographic targeting data for the ads from U.S. political advertisers, along with billing information, ad spending, and impression data per Tweet.

“We are making it clearer than ever who is advertising U.S. federal political campaign content on Twitter,” Twitter said in a blog post.

The transparency center will include all advertisers on Twitter globally, but at this stage only U.S. federal election campaign ads that fall under its new policy will be shown.

Google has vowed to launch a similar transparency center for political ads on its services this summer. It declined to share additional details this week.

Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Editing by Bernard Orr and Richard Chang

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SpaceX Facebook page down after Musk promises on Twitter
March 23, 2018 6:06 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Rocket company SpaceX’s verified Facebook page disappeared on Friday, minutes after its founder and Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk promised on Twitter to take down the page when challenged by a user.

Elon Musk at a SpaceX press conference last month. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

“Delete SpaceX page on Facebook if you’re the man?” a user tweeted to Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) chief Musk. His response: “I didn’t realize there was one. Will do.” (bit.ly/2pDcu3l)

SpaceX’s Facebook page, which had more than 2.7 million followers, is no longer accessible. (bit.ly/2G8BGWo)

Musk had begun the exchange by responding to a tweet from WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton of the #deletefacebook tag.

“What’s Facebook?” Musk tweeted.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru

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How Twitter Is Working to Protect Parkland, Fla. High School Students From Malicious Bots and Trolls
February 22, 2018 6:06 pm|Comments (0)

Twitter is working to shield Parkland, Fla. students from bots and trolls on the platform. Many of the high schoolers are organizing in the wake of the shooting at their school on Feb. 14 that left 17 dead.

As Marjory Stoneman Douglas students continue to speak out about gun control and their follower counts on Twitter rise, there are more instances of online abuse and conspiracy theories about these teenagers.

The claims that students are “crisis actors” paid to take advantage of the tragedy to further political agendas have spread on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

Students like Emma Gonzalez and Cameron Kasky, who have been some of the most vocal in the wake of the shooting, seem to be taking the disinformation in stride.

Meanwhile, Twitter is takings steps to protect these teens. The company moved quickly to verify some students’ accounts and says it is “actively working on” addressing reports of harassment and abuse.

Twitter is also using its anti-spam tools “to weed out malicious automation” targeting Parkland survivors and the conversation they’ve started.

Directly after the shooting, bots and users linked to the Russian influence campaign began pushing both sides of the gun control debate.

These announcements from Twitter come in the midst of an effort to purge bots from the site that also affected some real people. Many of the users locked out of their accounts were conservative voices on the platform, leading to calls of political bias, which the company denounced.

Users have called for Twitter to take action to combat abuse and harassment repeatedly, and the demands for better management of the platform and the community intensified after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Beware of Pranksters Crashing Apple iPhones Using Twitter
February 19, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

If you’re an Apple iPhone user who also enjoys Twitter, listen up.

Pranksters on the social media service have been sharing a character from the Indian Telugu language that causes iPhones to crash, according to Mashable. The offending users have been putting the character into their Twitter usernames and tweets and encouraging people to share them with their friends. If the character lands in a user’s Twitter feed, it will cause the social app to crash. The app will continue to crash after users try to boot it back up, ultimately stopping victims from accessing the service on their iPhones.

Last week, reports surfaced saying that a single Telugu character was enough to wreak havoc on iPhones. When the character is sent via any messaging or social networking app, the affected user’s app will crash. While it’s an obscure bug that only affects Apple’s iOS 11, it’s one that pranksters and those trying to cause harm are exploiting across the Internet. Worst of all, there’s no fix at the moment and unsuspecting victims needn’t do anything to be affected.

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Apple acknowledged the Telugu bug last week and has promised a fix. The company hasn’t yet delivered, though, and it’s impossible to say when it’ll be released.

According to Mashable, which tested the bug on Twitter, the only way for affected users to regain access to the app is to log in via Safari and block the person that shared the character. At that point, the character won’t show up in their feeds and Twitter will be accessible.

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Here’s Why Analysts Are Still Frustrated With Twitter Despite It Reporting Its First Profit
February 8, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

Twitter surprised investors and followers Thursday with revenue gains and its first profit, but some analysts say the company is still withholding vital information.

Twitter (twtr), on its earnings conference call, declined to give hard daily active user (DAU) statistics, simply saying it achieved its fifth consecutive quarter of double digit DAU growth, with a 12% year-over-year increase. That’s all well and good, say analysts, but without actual numbers, it’s a relatively meaningless boast.

“The DAU growth metric is literally the FIRST THING in their shareholder letter,” said Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter via Twitter. “Their excuse that they won’t disclose is lame. If they can’t tell us the numbers, why brag about growth? It’s either important (and should be disclosed) or not (and should be ignored).”

Pachter’s frustration grew as the call went on.

And he wasn’t the only critic.

Relying on percentage growth figures without giving any sort of base is an old trick of corporations. The reigning king of this strategy is Amazon, which has yet to give hard numbers regarding Amazon Prime members, though it has regularly touted the service’s membership growth.

While Twitter won’t disclose the number of daily users, it did, however, shed some light on monthly active users. That number was roughly the same as the prior quarter at 330 million, a lower-than-projected total that the company attributed in part to stepped-up efforts to reduce spam, malicious activity, and fake accounts.

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Twitter may notify users exposed to Russian propaganda during 2016 election
January 17, 2018 6:02 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Twitter may notify users whether they were exposed to content generated by a suspected Russian propaganda service, a company executive told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday.

The social media company is “working to identify and inform individually” its users who saw tweets during the 2016 U.S. presidential election produced by accounts tied to the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Army, Carlos Monje, Twitter’s director of public policy, told the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

A Twitter spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about plans to notify its users.

Facebook Inc in December created a portal where its users could learn whether they interacted with accounts created by the Internet Research Agency.

Both companies and Alphabet’s YouTube appeared before the Senate committee on Wednesday to answer lawmaker questions about how their efforts to combat the use of their platforms by violent extremists, such as the Islamic State.

But the hearing often turned its focus to questions of Russian propaganda, a vexing issue for internet firms who spent most of the past year responding to a backlash that they did too little to deter Russians from using their services to anonymously spread divisive messages among Americans in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. elections.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded Russia sought to interfere in the election through a variety of cyber-enabled means to sow political discord and help President Donald Trump win. Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal optimistic about Twitter investment: CNBC
October 23, 2017 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns investment firm Kingdom Holding, said in an interview with CNBC on Monday that he was optimistic about his investment in Twitter.

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabian Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal arrives at the Elysee palace in Paris, France, to attend a meeting with French President, September 8 , 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

“It’s not going to be easy because they face some difficulties, but our entry point was very reasonable, so right now it’s holding on a breakeven point,” he said.

Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by David Goodman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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