How many spam accounts are following you on Twitter?

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Sometime last week, @YukoFinnegan923 started following me on Twitter. A few days later, she stopped following me. Y U NO FOLLOW ME YUKO? I just now tried to find the account and it no longer exists. Fortunately, I took a screenshot of @YukoFinnegan923 from “Minneapolis, MN” while that cutie still existed. I already knew it was a spam account. That URL still works and goes to The website offers an assortment of Internet tomfoolery, such as backlinks to gin up you search-engine optimization (SEO) results, sites with 1,000 Google +1’s built-in, Twitter accounts with 500 followers at the ready, etc. I’ve long been fascinated by the ways people are tricked by the Internet. Recently, Newt Gingrich’s hapless presidential campaign was accused of buying twitter followers. Gingrich’s campaign denied it. The former Speaker of the House got his 1.3 million followers legitimately, his campaign said. Some reporters and pundits also scoffed. But then a new a people-search site, PeekYou, claimed it had researched Gingrich’s Twitter account and found only 8 percent of his followers were human. Douglas Main at Popular Mechanics wrote an excellent piece about trying to figure out what number of followers anybody has are spam or phony. I decided to do a little investigating of my Twitter followers. More

We meet again, Photobucket!

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My first Snapbucket mobile pic.

The last time I used Photobucket a few years ago, it was basically an image-hosting site. You uploaded a photo, grabbed the HTML or IMG code, then posted your photo at some forum and forgot about the original file. On Wednesday, Twitter made public what had been rumored for a few days: It would offer its own photo and video sharing – “powered” by Photobucket. ZOMG. The last time Photobucket was a big deal, Tila Tequila was the Queen of MySpace. Or so I thought. In fact, Photobucket has remained a player, with 8 billion total uploads as of last December. That’s 3 billion more than Flickr. For a while it was owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Now it has hitched its wagon to Twitter. Photobucket recently launched a mobile app called Snapbucket, which has Instagram-type filters. I tried it out and the burger photo above is the result. Overall, Photobucket is a very functional image- and video-sharing service. As I described in my last post, I use an assortment of sharing services for Twitter. I like diversity and competition, so I don’t plan on giving them up. But if the simplest option for sharing pictures is inside Twitter itself, there will be a rough road ahead for outsiders.

In the age of Twitter, what if we had another Sept. 11?


September 11th Memorial | 9-11-09
Credit: Dov Harrington via Flickr

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was half-watching the Today show as I was getting ready for work when Katie Couric reported that there was a big fire at the World Trade Center, possibly caused by a plane crash. I watched live as the second plane hit the south tower. I took a cab to work and heard on the radio that there was a big explosion at the Pentagon. I got on the Web at work and bounced around news sites looking for updates. I didn’t use Internet chat in the office, so my only interaction with other people online was on a bulletin board. I’d refresh the screen every few minutes to see if a new comment had been posted. That’s how we got news back then and I didn’t feel cheated. On Sunday night, the events of that day came full circle with the announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan. With every major news event, there is much said and written about the expanding role of social media in how we get our information. The bin Laden story is huge, but not all-consuming like the Al Qaeda attacks and aftermath nearly a decade ago. So I wonder how another Sept. 11 would play out on the Internet today. Not only could we get the news faster than the mainstream media could report it, we might even find out faster than the government. Would the passengers on those planes be on Twitter saying they had been hijacked? Would the office workers trapped on the doomed upper floors of the burning skyscrapers beg for help on Facebook? What would you do, watching the horror unfold, sitting there helplessly? The near-instantaneous sharing of social media can get a whole lot deeper than finding out that bin Laden was killed a few minutes before the president announced it on television.

Twitter gets rid of annoying “dick bar”

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Twitter finally got rid of the annoying QuickBar at the top of its iPhone app. The tweet above is in Greek except for two words: “dick bar.” The QuickBar was nicknamed the dick bar or “Dickbar” because, um, Twitter’s CEO is Dick Costolo. Actually, John Gruber of Daring Fireball came up with the term and said he meant that including the bar was a “dick move.” The most annoying thing about the bar was the way it floated on top of the app and made it hard to see tweets. There’s not much real estate available on a phone screen and this was ruining the app experience. Responding to the angry uproar about the bar, Twitter pinned it down to the top of the feed. After a while, I started to find it sort of useful. How else was I going to learn that Jackie Chan had died? No, really, I didn’t mind seeing what was trending without having to switch screens. But most other users still hated it. On Thursday, Twitter announced on its blog that the bar was gone. That was good news for all the people on Twitter who could go back to the traditional meanings of “dick” and “bar.” (Don’t look at the following screen cap if you are easily offended.) More

Happy Birthday, Twitter

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Image by Danilo Ramos, via Flickr

I’ve already written about Twitter’s fifth anniversary and what it means in the big picture scheme of things. Today I’ll share a few fun and interesting things about Twitter. Lady Gaga is the Queen of Twitter with nearly 9 million followers. President Obama is 4th on the list with 7 million followers. I follow neither. Probably the most popular person on Twitter that I follow is Roger Ebert, who recently shared at the TED conference how Twitter and the Internet helped him reinvent his voice after cancer surgeries took away his ability to talk. Oh, wait. I just remembered. I follow Charlie Sheen. He has more than 3 million followers. I find his antics fascinating. I don’t think he’s having a break down or is mentally ill. He’s just amoral, or immoral, and lovin’ it. Enough of famous people. Here are some important tweets from people who are not famous, but what they are doing on Twitter is vitally important: More

Twitter has changed the world

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It's your birthday, give or take a few days

Sometime after 1 a.m. Friday, I happened to be checking Twitter when I saw flash reports about an earthquake in Japan, and then tweets about a tsunami warning, and then I saw this shocking image, which I retweeted. Twitter has changed the way I learn about what is happening in the world. More importantly, Twitter has changed the world. Tonight, many people are waiting for what may be the big Bank of America email leak, which is being announced via Twitter by @OperationLeakS. More history on the way? We shall know shortly. More

Twitter wins Oscar race

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Did James Franco smoke a blunt before the show?

Twitter is the conversation destination for event TV, and the Academy Awards is the premier TV event for Twitter. I previously wrote about smart-phone apps that meld TV and Twitter, such as IntoNow. You can tweet about going to a movie and then what you thought afterward, but there is the void in between when you are watching the movie in a darkened theater and tapping away at your mobile phone is frowned upon. But you can kick back at home on your couch and tweet, read tweets, and retweet to your heart’s content. I don’t care much about the Oscars. I like it when worthy works and artists are recognized, but the show is otherwise painful to sit through. But the Twitter Show that pours forth is quite entertaining, from the first arrivals on the red carpet till the last grumblings about how the truly best movies got ripped off. Here are some of my faves from Sunday night: More

How long can Egypt afford to keep the Internet down?

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Photo credit: Monasosh on Flickr

See that cell phone in the top right corner of the photo? The Internet and SMS text messages may have been disrupted by the Mubarak regime, but cell phones and cameras were not rendered inoperable. This Jan. 28, 2011, photo was taken with a Blackberry in the neighborhood of Imbaba near Cairo. The photographer got it and other photos onto Flickr. How the photographer did that, I don’t know. The only regular Internet that was working was the one functioning ISP serving the Egyptian Stock Exchange. Others had the option – albeit very expensive – of using satellite phone services. But it really didn’t matter. The damage already was done on Facebook and Twitter and text messages rallying the Egyptian people to protest after Friday prayers before the Internet crackdown. One TV newscaster on Al Jazeera English believed that the loss of online information actually drew more people outside to find out what was happening. I also think that the protesters, without the need to keep uploading photos from their phones or check for updates on their computers, were left to be singularly focused on causing a breakdown of government authority. On Friday night, President Obama urged the Mubarak regime “to reverse the actions that they’ve taken to interfere with access to the Internet.” In reality, the regime cannot sustain the disruption unless Mubarak is prepared to take Egypt on a journey backwards to pre-Internet times. Sure, half the country is broke or out of work, but the other half needs ATMs and credit cards. Those don’t work without connectivity. And every minute without the Internet, Egyptians are missing out on this:

Source: The Clearly Dope

Why #ImFromPhilly became a hot topic on Twitter

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On Jan. 13, I noticed that #ImFromPhilly was a worldwide trending topic (TT) on Twitter that evening. Huh?

The most retweeted (by 100+ others) was @DoYouKnowDeek who wrote:

#ImFromPhilly where the word “Jawn” can be use 5 times in 1 sentence, but it still makes sense.
Thu Jan 13 2011 17:58:03 (EST) via web
Retweeted by veryfried and 100+ others

He tweeted that at 5:58 p.m. His tweet was the most popular, but it wasn’t what started the trend. (By the way, “jawn” can mean just about anything, such as a place or event, in Philly street lingo.)

I wondered if it had anything to do with an article published in the Philadelphia Inquirer that morning about the way people on Twitter use particular words or acronyms depending on what city or region they are in. For example, CTFU – cracking the f**k up – is popular among certain Twitter users in Philadelphia. I scanned some #ImFromPhilly tweets and saw no evidence of that (and was fairly doubtful anyway). I checked to see if there were a lot of tweets with #ImFromNewYork and there were. I had seen these city battles before and figured something like that was happening again. I was correct, but it had nothing to with New York. So what was going on? More