Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

Twitter has been on a long-term mission to overhaul have people have conversations on its platform, both to make them easier to follow and more engaging without turning toxic. That strategy is taking another big step forward this year, starting in Q1 with a new way for people to control conversations, by giving them four options to “tailor” their replies: anyone can reply, only those who a user follows can reply, only those tagged can reply, or setting a tweet to get no replies at all. (Goodbye, needing to make space for “don’t @me.”)

The plans were unveiled just this morning during CES in Las Vegas, where Twitter has been holding an event for media led by Kayvon Beykpour, VP of product at the company.

“The primary motivation is control,” he said today. “We want to build on the theme of authors getting more control and we’ve thought… that there are many analogs of how people have communications in life.”

(Of course you are unable to silence people from replying to you in person, but that’s another matter.”

The plans were laid out in more detail by Suzanne Xie, head of conversations for the platform, who said the feature builds on something the company launched in 2019, where users can hide replies.

“We thought, well ,what if we could actually put more control into the author’s hands before the fact? Give them really a way to control the conversation space, as they’re actually composing a tweet? So there’s a new project that we’re working on,” she said. “The reason we’re doing this is, if we think about what conversation means on Twitter. Right now, public conversation on Twitter is you tweet something everyone in the world will see and everyone can reply, or you can have a very private conversation in a DM. So there’s an entire spectrum of conversations that we don’t see on Twitter yet.”

Other areas that Twitter discussed at the event included more focus on Topics, which will be expanded and taken global, and with that more work on how people can create and share lists. Its NBA isocam will be used again this year to let users vote on their favorite players, and a similar new version, called the “stancam” will be created on the same principle for entertainment events. On the marketing front it will be building out more analytics and expending Twitter Surveys globally, as well as building a new platform, Launch, for marketers roll out new products and services for advertisers.

We’re going to be talking with the company later this morning and will update this news as we hear more.


TechCrunch

Twitter has kicked off the New Year by taking the wraps off a new hub for academic researchers to more easily access information and support around its APIs — saying the move is in response to feedback from the research community.

The new page — which it’s called ‘Twitter data for academic researchers’ — can be found here.

It includes links to apply for a developer account to access Twitter’s APIs; details of the different APIs offered and links to additional tools for researchers, covering data integration and access; analysis; visualization; and infrastructure and hosting.

“Over the past year, we’ve worked with many of you in the academic research community. We’ve learned about the challenges you face, and how Twitter can better support you in your efforts to advance understanding of the public conversation,” the social network writes, saying it wants to “make it even easier to learn from the public conversation”.

Twitter is also promising “more enhancements and resources” for researchers this year.

It’s likely no accident the platform is putting a fresh lick of paint on its offerings for academics given that 2020 is a key election year in the U.S. — and concerns about the risk of fresh election meddling are riding high.

Tracking conversation flow on Twitter also still means playing a game of ‘bot or not’ — one that has major implications for the health of democracies. And in Europe Twitter is one of a number of platform giants which, in 2018, signed up to a voluntary Code of Practice on disinformation that commits it to addressing fake accounts and online bots, as well as to empowering the research community to monitor online disinformation via “privacy-compliant” access to platform data.

“At Twitter, we value the contributions of academic researchers and see the potential for them to help us better understand our platform, keeping us accountable, while helping us tackle new challenges through discoveries and innovations,” the company writes on the new landing page for researchers while also taking the opportunity to big up the value of its platform — claiming that “if it exists, it’s probably been talked about on Twitter”.

If Twitter lives up to its promises of active engagement with researchers and their needs, it could smartly capitalize on rival Facebook’s parallel missteps in support for academics.

Last year Facebook was accused of ‘transparency-washing’ with its own API for researchers, with a group of sixty academics slamming the ad archive API as as much a hinderance as a help.

Months later Facebook was still being reported to have done little to improve the offering.


TechCrunch

A security researcher said he has matched 17 million phone numbers to Twitter user accounts by exploiting a flaw in Twitter’s Android app.

Ibrahim Balic found that it was possible to upload entire lists of generated phone numbers through Twitter’s contacts upload feature. “If you upload your phone number, it fetches user data in return,” he told TechCrunch.

He said Twitter’s contact upload feature doesn’t accept lists of phone numbers in sequential format — likely as a way to prevent this kind of matching. Instead, he generated more than two billion phone numbers, one after the other, then randomized the numbers, and uploaded them to Twitter through the Android app. (Balic said the bug did not exist in the web-based upload feature.)

Over a two-month period, Balic said he matched records from users in Israel, Turkey, Iran, Greece, Armenia, France and Germany, he said, but stopped after Twitter blocked the effort on December 20.

Balic provided TechCrunch with a sample of the phone numbers he matched. Using the site’s password reset feature, we verified his findings by comparing a random selection of usernames with the phone numbers that were provided.

In one case, TechCrunch was able to identify a senior Israeli politician using their matched phone number.

While he did not alert Twitter to the vulnerability, he took many of the phone numbers of high-profile Twitter users — including politicians and officials — to a WhatsApp group in an effort to warn users directly.

It’s not believed Balic’s efforts are related to a Twitter blog post published this week, which confirmed a bug could have allowed “a bad actor to see nonpublic account information or to control your account,” such as tweets, direct messages and location information.

A Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch the company was working to “ensure this bug cannot be exploited again.”

“Upon learning of this bug, we suspended the accounts used to inappropriately access people’s personal information. Protecting the privacy and safety of the people who use Twitter is our number one priority and we remain focused on rapidly stopping spam and abuse originating from use of Twitter’s APIs,” the spokesperson said.

It’s the latest security lapse involving Twitter data in the past year. In May, Twitter admitted it gave account location data to one of its partners, even if the user had opted-out of having their data shared. In August, the company said it inadvertently gave its ad partners more data than it should have. And just last month, Twitter confirmed it used phone numbers provided by users for two-factor authentication for serving targeted ads.

Balic is previously known for identifying a security flaw breach that affected Apple’s developer center in 2013.


TechCrunch

Twitter is changing the way it processes uploaded images, and the new way of doing things will be much-appreciated by any photographers sharing their work on the platform. Twitter engineer Nolan O’Brien shared that the platform will now preserve JPEG encoding when they’re uploaded via Twitter on the web, instead of transcoding them, which results in a degradation in quality that can be frustrating for photo pros and enthusiasts.

There are some limitations to keep in mind – Twitter will still be transcoding and compressing the thumbnails for the images, which is what you see in your Twitter feed. But once users click through, they will get the full, uncompressed (at least, not additionally compressed) image you originally uploaded, provided it’s a JPEG.

Twitter will also still be stripping EXIF data (data that provides more information about the picture, including when, how, and potentially where it was taken or edited) which is readable by some applications. The platform has previously done this, and it’s good that it does, because while sometime photographers like to peek at this info to check things like aperture or ISO setting on a photo they admire, or to transmit copyright info, it can also potentially be used by people with bad intentions to spy on things like location.

The example above posted by O’Brien is actually a really illustrative one when it comes to showing what kind of detail and quality can be preserved when Twitter doesn’t further compress or transcode your JPEG photos. This is a small, but great feature tweak for the platform, and hopefully it continues to make Twitter more photo-friendly in future.


TechCrunch