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Twitter launches anti cyberbully policy

April 27, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Personal Security, Search Clinic, Social Media, Social Networking, Twitter, Uncategorized

Twitter is to launch an anti cyberbully policy to act against violent threats as part of renewed efforts to tackle abuse.

Twitter launches anti cyberbully policyTwitter has acknowledged that its previous rules, which said a threat needed to be “direct” and “specific” to justify its intervention, had been too “narrow”.

The firm will still require a complaint to be made before it blocks an account, but it said it was also attempting to automatically make a wider range of abusive tweets less prominent.

The problem is not limited to Twitter – in March, a study of 1,000 UK-based 13 to 17 year olds by broadband provider Europasat indicated that nearly half of those surveyed had been sent abusive messages over the internet.

In February, Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo highlighted the issue when he sent a memo to staff telling them that “we suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years”.

Twitter’s rules now state that it may act after being alerted to tweets that contain “threats of violence against others or promote violence against others”.

Twitter will tell some abusers to verify their phone number and delete several tweets before lifting a temporary ban.

By making its criteria more vague than before, the platform can now intervene if, for example, someone says that a victim ought to be beaten up.

It had previously required the aggressor to have provided specific details, such as the fact they planned to commit the act using a baseball bat at the victim’s place of work, before it would respond.

“Our previous policy was unduly narrow, and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behaviour,” wrote Shreyas Doshi, Twitter’s director of product management, on the firm’s blog.

“The updated language better describes the range of prohibited content and our intention to act when users step over the line into abuse.”

In addition, Twitter will begin freezing some abusers’ accounts for set amounts of time, allowing those affected to see the remaining duration via its app. Abusers may also be required to verify their phone number and delete all their previous offending tweets in order to get their account unlocked.

The firm said it could use this facility to calm situations in which a person or organisation came under attack from several people at once, where it might not be appropriate to enforce permanent bans on all involved.

While such decisions would be taken by Twitter’s staff, the company said it had also started using software to identify tweets that might be abusive, based on “a wide range of signals and context”.

Such posts will be prevented from appearing in people’s feeds without ever having been checked by a human being. However, they will still show up in searches and remain subject to the existing complaints procedure.

A side-effect of this could be that some abusive tweets become harder to detect.

The UK Safer Internet Centre, which represents a number of campaign bodies, welcomed the move.

“These are really good steps,” said Laura Higgins, the organisation’s online safety operations manager.

“Regrettably some people might fall foul of bad behaviour before Twitter can put some of these safeguards in place, but at least it is always looking for new solutions.”

“In cases when there is massive amounts of abuse and it’s all of a similar theme, I think the new system will be good at picking it up, and that’s great. But it would be good to hear what will happen to that data once Twitter has it.”

The announcements build on other recent changes made by Twitter, including hiring more workers to handle abuse reports and letting third parties flag abuse.

Search Clinic repeats the link to How to Report a Tweet or Direct Message for violations

Facebook reports slow growth and higher costs

April 23, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Facebook, internet, Pay Per Click, Search Clinic, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology Companies

Facebook shares fell after the company reported slower revenue growth, while research and development costs ate into profits.

Facebook reports slow growth and higher costsThe social networking company said profit in the first quarter of 2015 was £341 million, down 20% on a year earlier.

While revenue rose 42% to £2.33 billion- that was slightly below analysts’ forecasts. A bright spot was the rise in monthly active users, up 13% from a year earlier to 1.44 billion.

Notably, for those investors concerned about the firm’s efforts to appeal to younger users who access Facebook on their smartphones, monthly mobile users increased by 24% to 1.25 billion, a majority of the site’s users.

Facebook has been particularly adept at channelling that growing mobile user base into advertising dollars.

The company said that during the quarter, revenue from mobile ad sales made up nearly three quarters of total ad sales.

“This was a strong start to the year,” said founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in a statement.

Investors have been worried about slowing revenue growth, as well as increasing costs at the company. Facebook has been spending more on research and development as it moves beyond its original social networking operation.

Spending on research and development jumped to £377 million from £120 million a year earlier.

The company has warned that those costs are set to increase, as it looks to expand some of its acquisitions including photo-sharing site Instagram, messaging service WhatsApp, and virtual reality firm Oculus Rift.

The trends are all going in the right direction. The cost rise is one thing that can derail this story. The question is, can they keep costs under control and what will be the new revenue streams around video, Instagram and virtual reality around Oculus?

Twitter’s is only seven this month

March 28, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Dr Search, Search Clinic, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology Companies, Twitter, Uncategorized

Twitter celebrates its seventh birthday this month with 200 million users worldwide- who now send an average of 400 million tweets every day.Twitter's is only seven this monthThe service, originally called “stat.us” and then “twittr”, was launched in 2006 by Jack Dorsey.

He says he was inspired by signing up to blogging service Live Journal in 2000 and spent the next six years refining his idea for “a more ‘live’ LiveJournal. Real-time, up-to-date, from the road”.

Now people use Twitter to campaign, share and discuss news, fundraise, propose marriage, challenge authority – and try to catch the eye of teen heart-throb Justin Bieber, who at time of writing has more than 36 million followers.

On Twitter everyone is so accessible – you can tweet anyone. With Facebook, you have to be friends with them first.

The problem with Twitter – which is the power of Twitter – is that you are publishing into the world. It’s out there with the same power whether you have one follower or whether you have three million followers.

The joy of Twitter is that it’s a stream, you step into it, you step out of it.

You can look at the world in terms of before and after Twitter. Before Twitter, from a consumer standpoint, lots of news and information services were out there, but we hadn’t really been deep into the mobile-app revolution.

In the world after Twitter, suddenly people have access to real-time news and information.

Twitter bites

• Each message posted on Twitter can be up to 140 characters long, including web addresses, user names and hashtags
• There are 200 million active Twitter users worldwide
• Every day 400 million tweets are sent every day
• It took three years, two months and one day for the first billion tweets to be sent
• There are 10 million users in the UK, and 80% of them access Twitter via their mobile phones
• Of Twitter’s global users, 60% check the service on their phones
• Some 40% of Twitter users choose not to write any tweets themselves, but use the platform to follow news and interests

Facebook’s turn to be targeted by sophisticated hackers

February 15, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cyber Security, data security, Facebook, internet, Personal Security, Social Media, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Facebook has revealed it was the latest website to be targeted by a “sophisticated attack” by hackers last month, but found no evidence any user data had been compromised.Facebook's turn to be targeted by sophisticated hackersThe social network said that the attack occurred when employees visited a mobile developer website “that was compromised”.

More than one billion people use Facebook worldwide.

“Last month, Facebook security discovered that our systems had been targeted in a sophisticated attack,” the company said.

“The attack occurred when a handful of employees visited a mobile developer website that was compromised.”

Malware was downloaded on to its employees’ laptops, the firm said, adding: “As soon as we discovered the presence of the malware, we remediated all infected machines, informed law enforcement, and began a significant investigation that continues to this day.”

“We have no evidence that Facebook user data was compromised in this attack,” Facebook said in its blog post.

The firm went on to say that it was “not alone in this attack”.

“It is clear that others were attacked and infiltrated recently as well. As one of the first companies to discover this malware, we immediately took steps to start sharing details about the infiltration with the other companies and entities that were affected,” Facebook said.

Facebook reports sharp drop in profits

February 06, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Facebook, internet, Mobile Marketing, Pay Per Click Advertising, Search Clinic, Social Media, Social Networking, Uncategorized

Facebook has reported a sharp drop in profits- partly due to increased spending on research and development.Facebook reports sharp drop in profitsThe social network site made a profit of £41 million in the final three months of 2012, compared with £133 million a year earlier.

Revenue was up 40% at £1.02 billion, largely due to a big jump in advertising revenue, a quarter of which came from mobile platforms.

Shares in Facebook fell by almost 6% in after-hours trading in New York.

The shares launched on the Nasdaq stock exchange in May at $38, and had halved in value by September.

They have since recovered to stand at $31 at the close of trading. The drop in after-hours trading suggests the shares will fall back again when full trading resumes on Thursday.

Revenue from advertising was £833 million, 41% up on a year earlier.

Mobile revenue, an important indicator of the company’s ability to capitalise on the growing move towards mobile platforms, accounted for 23% of overall revenue.

“In 2012, we connected over a billion people and became a mobile company,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and chief executive.

“We enter 2013 with good momentum and will continue to invest to achieve our mission and become a stronger, more valuable company.”

Facebook announces Graph Search- a social search tools for users

January 11, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Dr Search, Facebook, internet, Search Clinic, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Results, search engines, Social Media, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Facebook has announced a major addition to its social network – a smart search engine it has called Graph Search.Facebook announces Graph Search- a social search tools for usersThe feature allows users to make “natural” searches of content shared by their friends.

Search terms could include phrases such as “friends who like Star Wars and Harry Potter”.

Founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg insisted it was not a web search, and therefore not a direct challenge to Google- however, it was integrating Microsoft’s Bing search engine for situations when graph search itself could not find answers.

Mr Zuckerberg said he “did not expect” people to start flocking to Facebook to do web search.

“That isn’t the intent,” he said. “But in the event you can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s really nice to have this.”

Earlier speculation had suggested that the world’s biggest social network was about to make a long anticipated foray into Google’s search territory.

“We’re not indexing the web,” explained Mr Zuckerberg at an event at Facebook’s headquarters in California.

“We’re indexing our map of the graph – the graph is really big and its constantly changing.”

In Facebook’s terms, the social graph is the name given to the collective pool of information shared between friends that are connected via the site.

It includes things such as photos, status updates, location data as well as the things they have “liked”.

Until now, Facebook’s search had been highly criticised for being limited and ineffective.

The company’s revamped search was demonstrated to be significantly more powerful. In one demo, Facebook developer Tom Stocky showed a search for queries such as “friends of friends who are single in San Francisco”.

The same technology could be used for recruitment, he suggested, using graph search to find people who fit criteria for certain jobs – as well as mutual connections.

Such queries are a key function of LinkedIn, the current dominant network for establishing professional connections.

“We look at Facebook as a big social database,” said Mr Zuckerberg, adding that social search was Facebook’s “third pillar” and stood beside the news feed and timeline as the foundational elements of the social network.

Perhaps mindful of privacy concerns highlighted by recent misfires on policies for its other services such as Instagram, Facebook stressed that it had put limits on the search system.

Facebook tests charging $1 to send messages to strangers

December 28, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Email, Facebook, Messaging, Pay Per Click Advertising, Search Clinic, Social Media, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Facebook has begun a trial which allows users to pay $1 to send messages direct to people who are not their friends.Facebook tests charging $1 to send messages to strangersThe fee will mean messages go straight to a recipient’s inbox rather than the Other folder which contains all unsolicited correspondence.

The trial is only for a “small number of people” and is initially being tested just in the US.

Users will be able to receive a maximum of one paid for message per week, and no more than three each month.

“Several commentators and researchers have noted that imposing a financial cost on the sender may be the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful,” the site said in a statement.

“For example, if you want to send a message to someone you heard speak at an event but are not friends with, or if you want to message someone about a job opportunity, you can use this feature to reach their inbox.”

The system is similar to one adopted by professional social networking service LinkedIn.  Although their InMail feature allows users to get in touch with people they are not connected to for a set monthly premium fee.

On Facebook, users can already send messages to anyone else on the network. However, depending on a user’s privacy settings, messages from users who are not friends mostly end up in the Other folder.

This folder, which is separate from the user’s main inbox, often goes unchecked.

The $1 charge will mean messages will go straight to a user’s inbox. Facebook said the level of cost is likely to prevent spam or irrelevant messages.

There are no immediate plans to launch the trial for users in Europe, but it could happen in the future, Facebook said.

The changes are the latest evolution of Facebook’s messaging service – an area of its site it is looking to expand.

The site’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has previously said he wants people to use Facebook messages instead of email – and the network rolled out @facebook.com email addresses to all users in June.

Social media UK laws to be reviewed

October 12, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cyber Security, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Clinic, smart phones, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology Companies, Twitter, Uncategorized

Social media laws in the UK are to be reviewed in the wake of recent prosecutions.Social media UK laws to be reviewedNew guidelines for policing social media are to be discussed to avoid a “chilling effect” on free speech, the most senior prosecutor in England and Wales has said.

Director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said that the right to be offensive “has to be protected”- but that there had to be a balance.

His comments came in the wake of two prosecutions for offensive postings.

Matthew Wood was jailed on Monday for posting comments about missing girl April Jones. He was jailed for 12 weeks after he made several “abhorrent” postings about missing five-year-old April Jones on Facebook. Members of the public had reported his comments to the police who arrested the man for his own safety after 50 people went to his home.

The teenager’s 12-week prison sentence was followed by the prosecution of Azhar Ahmed, 20, who was given 240 hours community service after writing an offensive post about dead British soldier which posted that “all soldiers should die and go to hell” on Facebook. He said he did not think that the message was offensive.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will invite lawyers and academics, as well as representatives from social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter, to be part of the discussions.

The new measures are expected to be announced before Christmas.

A freedom of information request revealed that there were 2,347 investigations after complaints regarding posts on social media in 2010. This number rose to 2,490 in 2011 – about 50 different cases across the UK each week.

Mr Starmer said prosecutors were finding it difficult to work within the existing law.

“The emerging thinking is that it might be sensible to divide and separate cases where there’s a campaign of harassment, or cases where there’s a credible and general threat, and prosecute in those sorts of cases and put in another category communications which are, as it were, merely offensive or grossly offensive.”

Mr Starmer said the new guidelines would enable relevant authorities to use remedies other than criminal prosecution to address instances of offensive activity.

“The threshold for prosecution has to be high,” he added. “We live in a democracy, and if free speech is to be protected there has to be a high threshold. People have the right to be offensive, they have the right to be insulting, and that has to be protected.”

Facebook users spying on ex lovers damage themselves

September 19, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cyber Security, Facebook, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Facebook users are risking psychological damage from using the website to spy on ex lovers, according to new research analysis.Facebook users spying on ex lovers damage themselvesAs many as half of Facebook users are risking psychological damage from using the site to spy on ex lovers, according to new research.

Two of the most cited reasons for accessing Facebook are to keep in touch with others and to surreptitiously monitor them – with between a third and half of users using it to check up on ex-partners.

With close to a billion users, it means hundreds of millions may be finding it more difficult to get over a broken romance.

If it was unhealthy being together in the first place, it may be even more emotionally damaging to continue following their lives.

Psychologist Dr Tara Marshall said in the past, such spying and keeping tabs with what your ex was up to was challenging. You could try and pry information from his or her friends, telephone, or drop by their place, but it was usually unlikely you would turn up much useful information.

This made it easy for people to distance themselves from the relationship and move on – an emotionally healthy breakup. But as long as you remain ‘friends’ with your ex on Facebook, they are now able to keep up with everything you are doing.

While satisfying a certain curiosity factor, it seems likely that it would make it far more difficult to actually emotionally distance yourself from your past relationship.

In a survey of 464 participants, most of whom were undergraduate students, she found people who remain Facebook friends with an ex-partner will experience poorer breakup adjustment and personal growth relative to those who do not.

The findings suggest continued online exposure to an ex-romantic partner may inhibit post-breakup recovery.  Notably, frequent monitoring of an ex-partner’s Facebook page and list of friends was associated with greater distress.

Dr Marshall, of Brunel Universoity, Uxbridge, said: “Previous research has found continuing offline contact with an ex-romantic partner following a breakup may disrupt emotional recovery.

“Analysis of the data provided by 464 participants revealed that Facebook surveillance was associated with greater current distress over the breakup, more negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for the ex-partner, and lower personal growth.

“Overall, these findings suggest that exposure to an ex-partner through Facebook may obstruct the process of healing and moving on from a past relationship.”

Dr Brenda Wiederhold, editor of Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking which published the research Facebook Surveillance of Former Romantic Partners: Associations with PostBreakup Recovery and Personal Growth , added: “This study sees again virtual life mirroring real life.

“Just as real life contact with ex-partners may inhibit growth, healing, and well-being, so may virtual contact.”

Sainsbury’s buys ebook retailer Anobii

June 18, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Ecommerce, Online Marketing, Social Media, Social Networking, Uncategorized

Sainsbury’s is entering the digital ebooks marketplace with the announcement that it is buying HMV’s stake in Anobii, an online retailer of ebooks- for just £1.Sainsbury's buys ebook retailer AnobiiSainsbury’s said it would end up with a 64% stake in Anobii.

Anobii has more than 600,000 users worldwide and offers more than 60,000 books.

Sainsbury’s said it was committed to becoming “a key player in the digital entertainment market”.

In addition to selling ebooks, Anobii offers users the chance to interact akin to other social media websites where people rate, review, share and discuss their choices with other members of the service.

Mike Bennett, Sainsbury’s head of digital entertainment, said such interaction on Anobii was “a clear differentiator” from its e-book retail rivals.

He added: “It further demonstrates how we are constantly looking to innovate and seize opportunities that will support the future growth of our business.”

Given that the global- let alone the UK market for ebooks is pretty intense- and getting worse we initially wondered about the logic of this purchase.

However the customer interactivity may give Sainsbury the opportunity to use this knowledge and customer reach to improve it’s existing business profiles.