Displaying items by tag: Twitter
More than a dozen tech giants in the United States, including Verizon, Facebook, Snap, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google, have filed a 44-page brief with the Supreme Court calling for tighter restrictions on government officials having access to private and sensitive cellphone data of individuals.
The move highlights an ongoing dispute in the US over whether authorities should have to obtain a warrant before accessing data that could reveal an individual’s location via their cellphone. More and more data is being collected through digital devices, the brief said; therefore greater protection is needed for individuals under the law.
The brief stated: “That users rely on technology companies to process their data for limited purposes does not mean that they expect their intimate data to be monitored by the government without a warrant.”
Timothy Carter, a man convicted of robbing Radio Shack and T-Mobile stories in Ohio and Michigan in 2013, appeared before the justices last June to hear his appeal that data was used to convict him without a warrant. Using “cell site location information” obtained from Carter’s wireless carrier, federal prosecutors were able to prove his location near several of the robbery sites.
Carpenter claims that the prosecutors didn’t obtain a warrant to access information about his whereabouts, which he said amounts to an unreasonable search and seizure under the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. But Carpenter’s convictions were upheld by a federal appeals court last year, who determined that no warrant was needed to access the data.
The debate over how much surveillance law enforcement and intelligence agencies should have over individuals is heating up in the US, amidst concern among lawmakers that authorities are ignoring warrant requirements to obtain private information.
Carpenter’s representative, Nathan Freed Wessler with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the brief by tech giants represents a “robust defense of their customers’ privacy rights in the digital age.” Carpenter’s case will be brought before the court some time after its new term begins in October, Reuters said.
Mr. Wessler highlighted the importance of Verizon’s role in the brief, given that, as the largest carrier in the United States, it receives thousands of requests for cellphone location records from authorities every year and just about always complies.
Civil liberties lawyers argue that in order to pursue an arrest, authorities need “probable cause” and therefore a warrant, to avoid searches that are unconstitutional.
People should be able to use technologies without running the risk of having their personal data taken without permission, the tech giants explain in their brief to the Supreme Court.
The European Union has increased pressure on US technology leaders Facebook, Twitter and Google in relation to its user terms. The EU has requested that they amend their user terms in order to make them compliant with current EU law - after EU lawmakers deemed the proposals submitted by the technology giants as ‘insufficient’.
In June, the European Commission (EC) and consumer protection authorities in the EU wrote directly to Facebook, Google and Twitter in which they stressed to the technology companies that they need to improve their proposed changes to user terms by the end of September.
The EU has the power to impose fines if Facebook, Twitter and Google fail to comply with the request issued. Twitter has thus far not responded to an e-mailed request for a comment from Reuters, whilst Google declined to comment on the ongoing situation. However, Facebook believes that it is compliant with current EU law, but conceded that its terms could be formatted in a way which was easier to understand and would work to meet the authorities concerns.
The concerns are concentrated mainly on procedures the social media entities propose to set up for the removal of illegal content on their websites, some analysts have claimed that the terms limit their liability and allows them unilaterally to remove content posted by users.
The US technology trio has been given a deadline of July 20th to submit new proposals, which need to be implemented by the end of September. A source close to the case has claimed that two of the companies had submitted amended proposals, while a third had asked for more time, declining to specify which one.
Facebook, Google and Twitter agreed to the proposed changes touted in March amidst concerns raised by European regulators in March of this year. One of the main issues centered on the terms which forced European consumers to seek redress in California, where the companies are all headquartered, instead of the consumer’s home address.
US technology firms have previously faced scrutiny over the way it conducts its business in Europe, ranging from issues such as privacy, to illegal or threatening content. Both the consumer protection authorities and the EC has requested that the trio provide more details on the timeframe and deadlines it will apply in relation to dealing with notifications of content deemed illegal under consumer law.
Twitter has dropped some subtle hints that suggest it may introduce a subscription-based option on the hugely popular social networking platform. Reports have emerged that management is considering the option of building a premium version of its popular ‘Tweet-deck’ interface which is specifically aimed at professionals. Analysts have predicted that there is now a distinct possibility that it could collect subscription fees from some users for the first time.
Twitter which was founded in 2006 – has like all other successful social media outlets focused on building a huge core of followers for a free service which generates income through advertising. Twitter has claimed that it has 319 million users worldwide, and is more popular with celebrities than Facebook. Its most famous user is current US President Donald Trump who tweets on a regular basis. However, its numbers are significantly inferior to Facebook who have consistently been able to grow its reach. This has subsequently and rather inevitably led Twitter to fail to attract enough in advertising revenue to turn a profit.
The potential of subscriptions fees could come from a premium version of Tweet-deck that is an existing interface on the platform that helps users to navigate Twitter. It has conducted market research to assess whether or not there would be interest in a new, more enhanced version of the interface.
Twitter spokeswoman Brielle Villablanca said: "We regularly conduct user research to gather feedback about people's Twitter experience and to better inform our product investment decisions, and we're exploring several ways to make Tweetdeck even more valuable for professionals." However, there was no concrete indication that Twitter was considering charging fees from all its users.”
Word of the survey had earlier leaked on Twitter, where a journalist affiliated with the New York Times posted screenshots of what a premium version of Tweetdeck could look like. That version could include "more powerful tools to help marketers, journalists, professionals, and others in our community find out what is happening in the world quicker.
It was further reported that if the new and improved experience generates enough interest, it could be ad-free. Other social media firms such as Microsoft Corp’s and LinkedIn unit have already implemented memberships and subscriptions version that offer greater access and data.
Twitter posted the slowest revenue growth since it went public four years earlier, and revenue from advertising fell year-over-year. The company also said that advertising revenue growth would continue to lag user growth during 2017. Financial markets speculated about a sale of Twitter last year, but no concrete bids were forthcoming.
The European Commission has reportedly given social networks GooglePlus, Facebook and Twitter a month to figure out how they will comply with an EU regulatory framework designed to protect users from fraud, after the EC received complaints from users who were targeted by fraudsters via the social media sites.
“The Commission and the consumer authorities will review the final proposals,” said a statement by the EU. “If they are not satisfactory, consumer authorities could ultimately resort to enforcement action.”
The three social media companies had been contacted by EU consumer authorities in November 2016, under the leadership of the French consumer authority, which asked the firms to address the fraud cases.
Under the EU’s Unfair Contract Terms Directive, social media companies cannot deprive consumers of their right to go to court in their member state of residence, or require them to dismiss mandatory rights such as entitlement to withdraw from an online purchase. In addition, social media firms must remove any fraud and scams that appear on their sites which could be misleading to consumers.
Germany is reportedly working towards a new law that asks social networks to remove slanderous or threatening online postings or else face fines of up to 50 million euros.
EU commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, Vera Jourova, said it was “not acceptable that EU consumers can only call on a court in California to resolve a dispute.” Jourova said social media companies “need to take responsibility in addressing scams and fraud happening on their platforms.”
Twitter recently reported a net loss in the fourth quarter of 2016 of $167 million, after a $90 million deficit in the corresponding period a year ago. The company's shares dropped more than 12 percent to close at $16.41 as investor hopes faded for a revival of the micro-blogging platform, which has been lagging behind its social media rivals.
Revenue in Q4 2016 rose one percent for Twitter to $717 million. The crucial area of user growth saw Twitter end 2016 with 319 million monthly active users – an increase of four percent from the previous year and just two million more than the previous quarter. Despite the fact that US President Donald Trump shares updates via the platform, Twitter's user growth is relatively low.
Twitter relies heavily on advertising for its revenue, which was down slightly from the previous year at $638 million. In the United States alone Twitter's revenue was down five percent at $440 million. For the total year 2016, the company lost $456 million on revenues of $2.5 billion. That represented a narrowing of the deficit from 2015 and a 14 percent increase in revenue.
Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey remains positive that the company will bounce back, speaking of long-term prospects following its efforts to revamp the platform with more video and other changes.
"The whole world is watching Twitter," said Dorsey in a conference call. "While we may not be meeting everyone's growth expectations, there's one thing that continues to grow and outpace our peers: Twitter's influence and impact." Dorsey said Twitter "carries some of the most important commentary and conversations," and is a tool to mobilize people into action.
However, some analysts believe Twitter is growing at too smaller rate in the rapidly evolving social media space. For instance, Jan Dawson from Jackdaw Research says Twitter has been attempting to get more users and has improved engagement, but "some of this stuff has been in the works for over two years, and Twitter still doesn't seem to be making meaningful progress."
Dawson went so far as to label Twitter's revenue outlook as "pretty awful" in a blog post, and said the company will likely face a difficult time keeping advertisers interested.
Dawson said, "Twitter's big competitors for direct response advertising -- notably Facebook and Google -- are just way better at this stuff than they are, and Twitter simply hasn't made anywhere near enough progress here over the last few years. As a result, Twitter is enormously susceptible to competitive threats."
Despite the criticism, Twitter says it continues to work toward achieving profitability in 2017. Dorsey said that Twitter "overcame the toughest challenge for any consumer service at scale by reversing declining audience trends and re-accelerating usage." He added that "daily active usage accelerated for the third consecutive quarter, and we see this strong growth continuing."
Social networking platform Twitter announced details of a new initiative which has been specifically designed to crackdown on online harassment and ‘abusive accounts’. Twitter, like other social media platforms have struggled to manage the issue of online abuse from anonymous accounts.
Twitter vice president Ed Ho said they have introduced new measures aimed at identifying individuals who have been suspended from creating new accounts. In a statement issued to the press, Ho said: “We're taking steps to identify people who have been permanently suspended and stop them from creating new accounts. This focuses more effectively on some of the most prevalent and damaging forms of behavior, particularly accounts that are created only to abuse and harass others."
Twitter is hugely popular due to its ability to allow healthy exchanges on public issues, but the social network has also been utilized as a tool to harass and ‘troll’ people – celebrities and those in the public eye particularly come in for some vile abuse. Twitter suspends these users - but until now has been unable to prohibit them from creating a new account.
Former chief executive, Dick Costolo attributes Twitter’s issues in dealing with the problems as one of the primary reasons it has affected its efforts to grow.
Present chief executive added in his statement that Twitter will no longer tolerate ‘trolls’ from stifling users engaging with the platform. He said: “Making Twitter a safer place is our primary focus. We stand for freedom of expression and people being able to see all sides of any topic. That's put in jeopardy when abuse and harassment stifle and silence those voices. We won't tolerate it and we're launching new efforts to stop it."
Part of these efforts includes a new application Twitter added last week which enabled users to use a ‘safe search’ option. This removes tweets that ‘contain potentially sensitive content’ from appearing on their accounts.
In addition to this, the Twitter chief executive reiterated that his engineers will continue to work on identifying ‘abusive and low-quality replies so the most relevant conversations are brought forward.’
The changes are expected to be rolled-out on the social networking platform in the next coming weeks.
Google-owned YouTube recently began allowing popular online video personalities to broadcast on the go using mobile devices, which challenges Facebook and Twitter’s live-streaming appeal. For about six years YouTube has supported live video streaming through computers, even broadcasting US presidential debates online.
The company has now moved into online portable device streaming, allowing YouTube content creators whose channels have more than 10,000 subscribers to broadcast through apps tailored for mobile devices such as smartphones, says product managers Barbara Macdonald and Kurt Wilms.
“It’s a launch that’ll put the power of live streaming in the hands of hundreds of thousands of talented creators, giving them a more intimate and spontaneous way to share their thoughts, lives and creativity,” said Macdonald and Wilms in a blog post. They said YouTube will launch the feature more broadly soon.
YouTube now challenges social media giants Facebook and Twitter that both already have added such capabilities to their mobile platforms. However, YouTube has added a financial incentive in the form of “Super Chat”, a toll that enables online video stars to generate revenue from fans willing to pay to “stand out from the crowd” by having their chat messages highlighted in bright colors and pinned to the top of text conversations.
Macdonald and Wilms said Super Chat “is like playing for that front-row seat in the digital age.”
Facebook began testing its live audio streaming service in December that will enable users to broadcast radio-style segments on the social network. The new tool came as an alternative to the Facebook Live tool that lets people stream live video to Facebook.
An audio-streaming option promised to be useful in areas where telecommunication networks have trouble handling the larger data demands of video streaming.
Online social networking giants Twitter have created a new tab which is specifically aimed at making it easier for users to find interesting content while browsing on their social media platform. The move is just the latest in a long list of strategies management at Twitter in their attempts to find new users as they seek new ways to expand their business.
Twitter, which is headquartered in San Francisco, have added an ‘explore tab’ which will enable users to find and engage with interesting content easier. The feature will be added first on Twitter to Apple mobile devices – and it is expected to be added to Android smartphones in the coming weeks.
Project designer Angela Lam explained the benefits and thought process behind the ‘explore app’. Citing that it combines trends, moments, search and live video highlights in a single spot.
In a blog post, Lam said, “Until today, you had to go to a few different places to find each of these experiences. As part of our continued efforts to make it easier to see what's happening, we're bringing all these together."
The intentions behind the ‘explore app’ are to simply make it easier for users to find news, trending topics, and popular tweets - Twitter are striving to boost its rank of users and revenue.
It is set to report its earnings for the final quarter of 2016 later next month – Twitter reported a net loss of $103 million in September - they had losses amounting to $132 million in the previous year, while revenue grew by 8% to $616 million due to advertising.
The key metric of monthly active users rose only modestly to 317 million from 313 million in the prior quarter -- a growth pace that has prompted concerns over Twitter's ability to keep up in the fast-moving world of social media.
Analysts have been skeptical about Twitter's outlook for expansion, expressing concerns about its ability to entice users beyond its core base.
Germany are proposing to adopt new legislation that would hold major social media companies liable for provocative and inflammatory content that breaks German law. The government plan to impose heavy fines on companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter and others which fail to police, control and delete hate speech from its platforms.
Angela Merkel’s coalition government devised the idea in an attempt to alleviate the growing problem of hate speech and fake news stories polluting social media channel in the country. Her cabinet believes companies should set-up clear channels for registering complaints -make the details of those complaints public, and hire legally qualified ombudsmen to carry out deletions.
Online platforms that fail to meet such legal requirements could be hit with fines calculated on the basis of their global annual turnover, or face on-the-spot fines of up to €500,000 if they neglect to remove posts in breach of German hate speech law within 24 hours.
Social media and the power of it is under the microscope following the seismic political shift that occurred in both the US and UK this year. Populist narratives, conspiracy theories and xenophobic rhetoric were at the forefront of the Brexit campaign in the UK, and then the shock election of Donald Trump in the USA. Social media was a powerful tool used during both campaigns. Those results have now left many people feeling nervous ahead of elections in Germany and France next year.
Germany already has in place some of the toughest laws in Europe in relation to hate speech, which includes prison sentences for Holocaust denial. A taskforce regarding hate speech was set-up by German Justice Minister Heiko Maas last year.
He met representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter, and the meeting was ultimately aimed at deleting illegal postings within 24 hours. However, a government report into the deletion of illegal postings have unearthed some unsatisfactory results.
It signalled clearly that tech companies are struggling to adapt adequately to the breaches of law on their platforms. Facebook only deleted 46%, YouTube just 10% and incredibly Twitter only deleted 1% of illegal content which was flagged by users.
Mass said: “We are already looking in detail at how we can make providers of online platforms criminally liable for undeleted content that breaks German law. Of course, if other measures don’t work we also need to think about fines. That would be a strong incentive for quick action. We urgently need more transparency. Companies that make money with their social networks have social obligations – it cannot be in any company’s interest that their platform is used to commit crimes.
It will be interesting to see how Facebook and other leading tech firms react to the proposed legislation and new laws if passed, and the legality of collecting fines. Facebook is a US based company and it’s not clear whether or not Germany would have any recourse in collecting fines. The murky world of social media has just got murkier.