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Germany breaks Brazilian hearts and Twitter records to boot

09 Jul 2014

While Germany’s stupefying 7-1 destruction of Brazil in the World Cup semi-final in their own back yard sent footballing records tumbling, it also helped break two fairly notable Twitter records, which show how big the social network has now become.

As users around the world watched agog as the goals flew in, Twitter exploded. A truly staggering 35.6 million tweets about the company were posted, making it the single most discussed sporting event of all time on the platform.

This easily beat the 24.9m tweets sent about the Super Bowl earlier in 2014. Not only that, but the moment the fifth goal nestled in the back of the net Twitter exploded once again, helping smash the tweet per minute (TPM) record with more than half a million posts.

As the Guardian notes this is by far and away the largest ever number of tweets about one event to be sent in a minute, surpassing numerous events such as Usain Bolt's gold-medal 200m sprint peaked at 80,000 tweets per minute, and Beyoncé's Super Bowl half-time show in 2013 at 268,000 tweets per minute.

A real-time map of messages on Twitter as they were posted also gives some indication of where in the world the result left the biggest impact: unsurprisingly Brazilians were rather vocal about the result.

Twitter silences the witterers with Mute button

13 May 2014

Man with fingers in ears

Social network Twitter is offering its users a mute button that they can employ to filter out annoying people for a limited time, without having to unfollow them.

First to get the feature will be iPhone, Android and Twitter for Web users, who will now be able to silence tiresome users who perhaps post updates just a little too often.

"Today we're beginning to introduce a new account feature called mute to people who use our iPhone and Android apps and twitter.com. Mute gives you even more control over the content you see on Twitter by letting you remove a user's content from key parts of your Twitter experience," it said in a blogpost.

"In the same way you can turn on device notifications so you never miss a Tweet from your favorite users, you can now mute users you'd like to hear from less. Muting a user on Twitter means their Tweets and Retweets will no longer be visible in your home timeline, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user."

The system sounds a lot like a block on another user, but one that will not apparently insult or offend the blocked person.

"The muted user will still be able to fave, reply to, and retweet your Tweets; you just won't see any of that activity in your timeline," added the firm. "The muted user will not know that you've muted them, and of course you can unmute at any time."

The feature will be rolled out to all users in the coming weeks, according to Twitter.

With the World Cup just around the corner those who follows avid football fans could find it a major blessing to help avoid endless tweets about how games are unfolding, or those tweeting manically about the final of Britain's Got Talent, without offending friends or colleagues.

NSA gets cryptic with coded job ad in Twitter post

06 May 2014

magnifying-glass

The US National Security Agency (NSA) posted an intriguing message on its Twitter account over the weekend, in a novel way to appeal to those who have an aptitude for cracking codes and ciphers.

Usually the NSA's careers Twitter account posts up short, bland opportunities for applications, but this one is very different.

It is very obviously a cipher, and looks a lot like one that uses substituted letters. The question mark is something of a clue and suggests that the NSA is happy to leave such hints.

There are various ways and means of cracking substitution ciphers and one of them is to start with the letter E - the most commonly used of English letter characters, and work back from that.

You can do this manually, automatically or in your browser using Javascript. The end result should be the same, the time spent working on the solution may differ radically though.

We can confirm that the advert is not actually a job ad, but is more of a knowing wink in the direction of people that like codes and ciphers, want a job with the NSA, and are not Edward Snowden. You can see the solution to the NSA code puzzle in this YouTube video.

Last year the UK agency GCHQ carried out a similar experiment to help it in its search for the next Alan Turing. At the time GCHQ's head of resourcing, Jane Jones, said that modern threats require new ways of finding talented people to help crack complex codes.

"We want employees who have evolved with the ever-changing digital world and therefore have the right skills to combat these challenges," she said at the time. "It's a puzzle but it's also a serious test - the jobs on offer here are vital to protecting national security."

Twitter turns eight: First tweets from the great and good of the tech world

21 Mar 2014

 Twitter

It is now eight years since the world was given the ability to share what was on its mind in 140-character snippets. Since then world leaders, pop stars, sporting heroes and top tech talents have all joined the bandwagon.

To celebrate eight years of success Twitter has created a nifty tool to help you easily find your first ever post on the site. V3 thought it would be fun to use the site to find out what some of the tech luminaries had to say for themselves. Some are more inspiring than others.

Bill Gates was snappy and to the point.

Oracle's Larry Ellison was his usual bullish self.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was late to the party and in typical business mode.

Security hero Eugene Kaspersky set about offering pearls of wisdom on staying safe online.

We're not sure what was going on when Sir Tim Berners-Lee first posted, but as he invented the web, we'll forgive him.

We here at V3 can't criticise too much, though, as our first effort was hardly the stuff of legend. Still, we like to think we've got a little better since then.

Our favourite, though, is Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who kicked-off with a message about dancing and has never looked back.

Happy birthday Twitter. Here's to the next eight years.

Twitter 'lie detector' aims to catch out malicious rumour-mongers

21 Feb 2014

Twitter

A new "lie detector" for Twitter is currently in development, and while the prospect of knowing whether your colleagues really enjoyed the delightfully Instagrammed salad may seem exciting, its true benefits could actually solve one of the biggest problems public social media platforms cause society: malicious untruths.

In the 2011 London riots, for example, rumours began to spread of tigers having escaped from London Zoo causing an uncomfortable mix of confusion, terror and humour. Could a machine-based lie detector, analysing language and context, have saved us from this bizarre state of affairs? According to the University of Sheffield's Kalina Bontcheva, lead researcher on project PHEME: perhaps.

There are four categories of tweets that misinform people, according to the project team:

  • Speculation – such as financial guesswork
  • Controversy – unproven accusations
  • Misinformation – accidental untruths
  • Disinformation – malicious untruths

The technology would take into account a number of tweet characteristics, including the authority of the user and their history on the site. A well-respected, verified journalist would be more authoritative than a brand new account which is spamming scandalous political rumours, for example.

There is no word on whether the analysis extends to metadata such as the location from which the tweet was sent, and the researchers currently have no plans to include media such as images in the analysis, which often form a key part of corroborating or dispelling rumours.

The results of searches looking at current events would then display on a "visual dashboard" to let the user know whether a rumour was likely to be true or not.

It's an interesting project which is expected to take three years to come to fruition. It would be reasonable to expect Twitter is doing exactly the same thing as it looks to serve one of its most active userbases: journalists and organisations like emergency services and charities.

By V3's Michael Passingham, who promises to tweet the twuth, the whole twuth and nothing but the twuth.

Twitter dabbles in e-commerce

03 Feb 2014

Twitter IPO

Twitter appears to be looking at some new revenue streams that could see users buying products using buttons embedded in Tweets.

The potential new product, reported by Recode, appears in the form of designs pitched by online retailer Fancy. It shows a button embedded in a Tweet that advertises a product. While nobody from Twitter or Fancy has acknowledged the images, it suggests a sensible exploration of other revenue streams from Twitter, which makes a large part of its cash from advertising.

By introducing the sale of physical goods into tweets themselves, Twitter is looking at an area of social media-based retail that has been explored before. Facebook tried, tested and eventually mothballed its own attempts to sell products on its site, instead concentrating on cashing in on smileys and virtual coins.

But Twitter is fundamentally different from Facebook. Its advertising model allows businesses to buy into certain keywords and trends, making adverts that are hyper relevant but only last for a few seconds. With this new model, a business could conceivably use the #CoronationStreet hashtag to promote an item currently being featured in the advert break, for example.

One potential problem for Twitter, however, will be savvy consumers. While this system may be great for unique, hand-crafted items that can only be bought from a particular niche site, if firms attempt to advertise products that are more widely available, consumers will probably do a quick search to find the best price available and bypass Twitter entirely.

Nonetheless, investors will undoubtedly welcome speculation that Twitter is looking to create a new revenue stream as it tries to work its way out of the red.

By V3's Michael Passingham, who would sell his soul for a few more followers

Andy Murray takes Twitter tittle-tattle title, also wins Wimbledon final

08 Jul 2013

Last night, tennis took over Twitter, as lifetime and one-time tennis fans came together to produce an onslaught of tennis tweets that in previous years would have stretched Twitter's service to its limits.

At its peak, Twitter users were sending over 120,000 Wimbledon-related tweets per minute. To put that in perspective, Centre Court holds 15,000 people, and they were loud enough by themselves; the racket created by 120,000 shouts and whoops per minute would have been a little much. The below graph shows the huge flurry of mentions right after Murray won the tournament.

In terms of what was actually being said in those tweets, the ball was in IBM's court to work out who was the favoured player. A foregone conclusion you might say. And you'd be right: Andy Murray dominated the Twitter rankings, receiving 1.1 million tweets throughout the Wimbledon competition. Second in the men's ranking was Serbian Novak Djokovic, with a respectable 868,000 mentions.

However, Murray will be appalled to discover that his approval rating wasn't the highest of all players. Indeed, most of the love went to fellow Brit Laura Robson whose twitter mentions were 94.7 percent positive. Murray could only manage a paltry 93.3 percent.

Elsewhere, the women's singles champion France's Marion Bartoli didn't top the Twitter rankings, despite the controversy caused by John Inverdale's infamous comments proclaiming her not to be ‘a looker'. She racked up 208,000 mentions and while she beat German Sabine Lisicki in the final, Lisicki can go home with the knowledge that she received 301,000 mentions throughout the tournament (and the £800,000 prize pot just for showing up to the final).

Murray, ever the outgoing attention seeker, took to Twitter after the match to express his happiness, and received a cool 90,000 retweets as a result.

Eight of the ten trending topics on Twitter last night were Wimbledon related, although how many of those were "I wish everybody would stop posting about tennis" wasn't clear at the time of publishing.

By V3's Michael Passingham, who isn't a tennis fan

Tweet enters dictionary as both a noun and verb

17 Jun 2013

twitterbird

When Twitter first exploded into the public consciousness a few years ago there was a rush to add the letters ‘Tw’ to everything related to the site, resulting in some awful words such as Twestival and Twitterati.

While this craze seems to have, thankfully, disappeared, some other key words that Twiter spawned remain part of our daily lexicon. Hashtag is now completely understood with reference to a topic that’s trending, while ‘following’ someone is no longer a creepy term that could land you in hot water with the fuzz.

Now another common word, 'tweet', has received the seal of approval as a new noun and verb with relation to Twitter, after the chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, John Simpson, confirmed it will appear in the next edition of the esteemed work.

“The noun and verb tweet (in the social-networking sense) has just been added to the OED. This breaks at least one OED rule, namely that a new word needs to be current for ten years before consideration for inclusion. But it seems to be catching on,” he said.

The influence of Twitter is clear, as the venerable institution OED is willing to bend its own rules and allow a term be added to its tome because of its huge prominence in the wider world.

One other notable new edition set to enter is the wonderful, “to have a cow” because, as the aptly named Simpson explained: “This American slang term meaning, essentially ‘to have a fit’, is often associated with the character Bart from the animated series The Simpsons, but it is much older than the television show. The new OED entry traces the phrase back to 1959.”

That's definitely something worth tweeting about.

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