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Friday
Jul152011

Happy Birthday Twitter! Microblogging Site Celebrates 5th Birthday

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- It's been five years since Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of sent out the first experimental tweet: "Inviting coworkers."

That's all it said.

This July 15 marks the five-year anniversary since Twitter.com became a public website, and like every Tweet since, Dorsey's was limited to 140 characters.

Since then, celebrities from Lady Gaga to Charlie Sheen to President Obama (or the staffers tweeting on his behalf) have mastered the highly truncated form of language that Twitter has made popular; others (think of Rep. Anthony Weiner) have been less adroit.

Twitter is now the 9th-most-visited site worldwide, according to the Web-tracking service Alexa. Google, Facebook, YouTube and Yahoo may get more users, but they can't top Twitter for the sheer number of messages sent.

As of last week, Twitter said users were sending 200 million tweets per day, up from 2 million in January 2009. If you printed that on paper, at a rate of 20 tweets per page, it would fill the equivalent of 8,163 copies of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, the company said.

Despite the flighty name and the forced brevity of the messages, Twitter has become a major, and often serious, medium. From the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to the uprising in Egypt, it has been a way for people to connect, share links to pictures and news stories, or watch what is collectively on the world's mind.

And of course, it's become the gathering place for the rabid followers of pop culture icons.

Ashton Kutcher won the race to become the first Twitter member to 1 million followers, but he's since been passed by a few pop stars, a reality TV queen, and one commander in chief.

Twitter's San Francisco staff has not done much publicly to mark the day; they had more of a celebration in March, the five-year mark from when they put the site online for so-called beta testing. That kind of thing is common with tech startups; Google says it celebrates its anniversary on different days in September, "depending on when people feel like having cake."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May022011

Osama Bin Laden Dead: Web Users Celebrate With Fake Twitter, Facebook Accounts

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Even before President Obama pronounced Osama bin Laden dead, the Internet was buzzing with the news -- and in the hours that followed, the Web exploded as people celebrated and satirized the demise of public enemy No. 1.

As people around the world tweeted their excitement about bin Laden's death, Twitter said it had its highest sustained rate of tweets ever.

From 10:45 p.m. to 2:20 a.m. ET, Twitter users generated about 3,000 tweets per second, with a peak of 5,106 tweets per second at 11 p.m. ET, Twitter said in a tweet Monday.

On Facebook, the page "Osama Bin Laden Is DEAD" attracted more than 300,000 "likes" as people worldwide shared comments and links to stories and video.

The Facebook page went viral in the aftermath of Obama's announcement but, as Mashable notes, the page appears to have been created before the official announcement of the big news.

"Osama bin Laden has not been found and will never be found because he died a long time ago. This may be news to you because it wasn't in the news," the description of the page says. "His death is critical to the CIA because they want you to believe in this so called 'War on terror' which has made the world a more dangerous place. If Osama bin Laden was alive, he would've been found -- just like Saddam Hussein."

Within hours of the announcement, fake Twitter accounts for bin Laden attracted thousands of followers.

Twitter Account @OsamaInHell: 'Bedrooms Are Called 'Sleeper Cells' Here.' The account @GhostOsama got more than 25,000 followers. Its tweets pretended to be from a man who "was once the best Terrorist of all time!" One of the tweeter's first posts said, "Obama is using my death to assure his reelection." Later, the account posted, "Was just granted my 72 virgins, YES!"

Google Maps was flooded with enthusiasts using the popular mapping tool to find the exact spot bin Laden was killed. According to the Google Earth Blog (which is not officially affiliated with Google), the location is especially difficult to find online because the newest imagery from the area is only from 2005.

Though map users may have had a tough time locating the place of bin Laden's death online, they still had a good time mocking it. More than 30 people have posted fake reviews for "Osama bin Laden's Compound" on Google Maps.

On Yahoo, searches for Osama bin Laden spiked 98,550 percent Sunday. Searches for September 11 jumped 1,009 percent. Among the top questions being searched for on Yahoo! are "How did Osama bin Laden die," "How old was Osama bin Laden," "Is it Usama or Osama?" and "Is Osama Really dead?"

"Osama bin laden dead" was among the top rising terms on YouTube Sunday night, Google said in its YouTube Trends blog.

But Google said video watchers were also hungry for songs, including Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue," "God Bless America," and Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." Another top trending video on Twitter was President George W. Bush's 2001 bullhorn speech from Ground Zero. Between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. PT Sunday, there was a one million percent increase in Google searches for "bin laden," compared to earlier in the weekend, a company spokeswoman said.

Keynote Systems, a leading mobile and Internet performance monitoring company, said that soon after the announcement of bin Laden's death, top news sites (as well as their mobile sites) began to buckle under the strain of the unexpected traffic load. The company said that in the first 15 minutes after the news broke, it was as if a "flash mob" descended on mobile news sites. Unprepared for the onslaught of traffic, news sites slowed down and returned error messages, but they recovered quickly, Keynote said.

Akamai Technologies, Inc., a leading Web services company that monitors Internet traffic, said news of bin Laden's death led to a spike in Web traffic 24 percent above normal. On Sunday night around 11:40 p.m. ET, traffic peaked at about 4.1 million page views per minute, the company said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct282010

Would You Want Government to Control Internet in Event of Cyberattack?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BLUE BELL, Penn.) -- A majority of Americans believe the president should have control over the Internet in the event of a major cyberattack on the U.S., according to a new study.

Sixty-one percent of Americans polled by Unisys said the president should able to control or “kill” portions of the Internet if key U.S. systems were attacked by a foreign government, reports CNET.

These findings may suggest that the public would support a pending cybersecurity bill that would give the president greater authority over the Internet in the event of such an emergency.

Civil liberty groups have expressed concerns over the bill, which would give the federal government control over the private sector.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct252010

Privacy Hole Puts Website Login Info at Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- If you sign into some of the Web's most popular sites through unsecured Wi-Fi networks (such as those available at airports and coffee shops), hackers could easily spy on you and steal your password information, according to Seattle-based software developer Eric Butler.

To show Internet users and websites the severity of this privacy hole, Butler created a free Firefox Web browser extension that, once downloaded, lets users hijack others' user information themselves.

Called Firesheep, the program lets users see who is connecting to the Internet through an unsecured Wi-Fi network.  Once someone connects to an open Wi-Fi network, the program shows the person's name and photograph.

Aaron Higbee, co-founder and chief technology officer of security firm Intrepidus Group, said Firesheep highlights the risks associated with public Wi-Fi networks.

Open Wi-Fi hotspots may be convenient for on-the-go Internet users but, he said, most consumers probably don't realize that when they connect to an open Wi-Fi network that does not have encryption, they're basically broadcasting their online session to everyone within listening distance.

Hackers could eavesdrop on these connections before Firesheep, but with the new program, this kind of online spying is easier than ever for a layperson, he said.

"Sometimes, that's what it takes for people to realize this is something...to be concerned about," he said.  If you plan to use a public Wi-Fi network to connect to your e-mail or social networking account or other sites that require authentication, Higbee recommends using a VPN (or virtual private network) application that protects a user's Internet session.

Steve Manuel, a senior at the University of Southern California, said that after reading about Firesheep on the technology blog TechCrunch, he found one possible way to protect users from Firesheep hackers. "I searched around for any tools that would force you to go to the secure version of that website," he said. Manuel said he found another Firefox extension called Force-TLS which, once downloaded, automatically takes a user from an unsecure website (http) to the secure version of the same site (https).

Not every website includes a secure version and Internet users should be careful about the kinds of information they exchange over a public Internet network, but Manuel said it seems that the Force-TLS extension should protect users accessing well-known websites like Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct222010

Google Ordered to Name Anonymous Online Bullies

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Internet bullies, listen up. If a New York court ruling is any indication, your cloak of anonymity may be more transparent than you think.

In August, Carla Franklin, a 34-year-old New York business consultant and Columbia Business School graduate, filed legal documents asking Google to identify people who posted unauthorized videos of her on YouTube and called her a "whore."

This week a Manhattan judge ordered Google, which owns YouTube, to turn over identity and contact information for the person or persons who posted the videos and insults online.

A Google spokesman declined to comment, saying that the company does not discuss individual cases. But Franklin said that the court ruling gives Google a couple of weeks to give her the IP (Internet protocol) addresses, e-mail addresses and other information of the users responsible for the harassment. Once she has that information, Franklin said she plans to work with an investigator to track down the person she thinks is behind the online bullying.

Assuming Franklin is able to identify them, she said she hasn't fully decided on her course of action, but knows that she'll file a restraining order.

Cyber harassment has "gotten out of control," she said, adding that she hopes her case makes it easier for others to hold Internet bullies responsible for their harm.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep212010

Twitter Fixes Security Flaw After Thousands Hit

(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Twitter says it has patched a security hack that created chaos for thousands of the site's users early Tuesday. "We discovered and patched this issue last month," the site said in a statement posted on its blog. The site added, "However, a recent site update (unrelated to new Twitter) unknowingly resurfaced it." The flaw allowed unwanted messages and websites to open in web browsers as users moved their mouses over infected links. Without even a click, users were directed to sexually explicit content and other potentially unsavory websites. "A user noticed the security hole and took advantage of it," the statement said. Earlier this month, the company announced plans to overhaul its existing site layout.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio.







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