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  1. A group of bipartisan U.S. House Representatives has sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, urging the company to take copyright infringement seriously. While Twitter seemingly complies with the law, the lawmakers say that the company's actions suggest that piracy is part of Twitter's business model. Under US law, online service providers need to respond to takedown notices. In addition, they have to implement a meaningful policy to terminate accounts of repeat infringers. Many of the large social media platforms stick to these rules. Twitter, for example, ‘removes’ over a million tweets each year that are flagged as problematic. ‘Twitter’s Refusal to Tackle Piracy’ While Twitter appears to operate within the boundaries of U.S. law, not all lawmakers are pleased with the service. Yesterday, a group of bipartisan House Representatives, led by Republican Congressmen Kelly Armstrong and Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, scolded the platform in a public letter. “We write to you regarding the ongoing problem of copyright infringement on Twitter and the platform’s apparent refusal to address it,” the representatives inform Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. To help identify pirated content, Twitter goes beyond legal requirements by offering copyright holders access to an API. That sounds positive, but the representatives find it offensive that creators have to pay for access to this tool. “Twitter has taken the unprecedented step of charging creators for a fully functional search API that can identify instances infringement at scale,” the letter reads, adding, “Twitter offers a more sophisticated API to academic researchers for free.” This complaint echoes comments made by the music industry group RIAA, which brought up the same issue during a Senate hearing a few months ago. According to RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier, Twitter could stop the piracy problem overnight if it had the will and the right incentive. The lawmakers don’t mention any incentives or repercussions in the letter but do stress that it would be best if Twitter enters into licensing agreements with copyright holders. This issue is high on the music industry’s wishlist too. A Piracy Business Model While Twitter is not accused of doing anything illegal, the House Representatives write that the company’s actions make it seem as if piracy is part of the social media platform’s business model. “Between refusing to pay creators for their works and obstructing their discovery of infringing works, it appears that unauthorized use of copyrighted works is an unacknowledged part of Twitter’s business model,” they write. Instead of demanding concrete action, the lawmakers ask Twitter to answer several questions to explain what it will do to help copyright holders address the piracy problem going forward. 1. What will Twitter do to enable content owners to meaningfully search for and identify infringement of their works at a scale commensurate with the amount of infringing tweets occurring on the platform at no additional cost to them? 2. Tweets can be uploaded in a fraction of a second, and hundreds of millions are posted to Twitter every day. What is Twitter doing to ensure that takedown notices are addressed in a manner that corresponds with that speed and volume? 3. Will Twitter add robust content protection technology across all of its platforms and implement it effectively to decrease the posting and reposting of infringing content? Music Lobby The letter is music to the ears of the RIAA. The group has spent over five million dollars in lobbying efforts at the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives over the past 12 months, with platform accountability being one of the key topics. This isn’t the first time that Twitter has come under fire at The Hill. Late last year the social media platform infuriated U.S. Senator Thom Tillis by refusing to testify at a piracy-related hearing organized by the Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. “The only reasonable conclusion one can draw from your actions is that Twitter simply does not take copyright piracy seriously,” Senator Tillis wrote in a letter to Jack Dorsey at the time. — A copy of the letter sent by the U.S. House Representatives yesterday, urging Twitter to respond before the end of the month, is available here (pdf) US Lawmakers Suggest That Piracy is Part of Twitter’s Business Model
  2. Twitter formally announces Blue subscription, rolling out in Canada and Australia Twitter's long rumored subscription service quietly launched late last month, courtesy of an update to the app's listing on Apple's App Store. Twitter Blue costs $2.99 per month, and for that price you'll get access to a number of features such as the ability to organize tweets into folders, use custom icons, and change the app's accent color. Today, the micro-blogging service formally introduced Blue, with its first iteration now rolling out in Australia and Canada. Subscribers in those countries will pay CA$3.49 or AU$4.49 to have access to several premium features mentioned above as well as the ability to revise a tweet before it goes live with "Undo Tweet". This feature allows you to set a timer of up to 30 seconds, within which you can retract your tweet and make the necessary changes before posting it. More importantly, it gives you some time window to preview your tweet before anyone else can see it. In addition, there's a new Bookmark Folders feature with which you can organize your saved tweets in a single location where it's easier to find them. If you'd like a more convenient reading experience, then the “Reader Mode” is your thing. It lets you view threads more easily by “turning them into easy-to-read text”. Twitter Blue is initially available in Australia and Canada starting today, with the goal of gathering feedback in order to build more features for subscribers. There's no word, though, as to when the service will launch in other regions. Twitter formally announces Blue subscription, rolling out in Canada and Australia
  3. Twitter Rolls Out Taller Image Crops For Android And iOS Today Twitter today announced that it’s rolling out image crops for its Android and iOS apps that allow for taller, bigger, better images in posts. Of course better is really a subjective term. As there are surely some users who will not appreciate the taller image crops that Twitter has to offer. Nevertheless, this is a change that’s happening. Having said that it’s also a change that applies to the Android and iOS apps only. As taller crops don’t seem to be supported on Twitter for the web. Twitter also refrains from mentioning PC at all in its announcement. So it’s likely that this won’t be showing up for PC users. For mobile users, the change should already be visible. Twitter image crops on mobile are basically gone now As is the joy from posting any “open for the surprise” images. If you were a user that falls into this category, you can probably get around the change by posting really, really tall images. But for the majority of users, this is a positive change that brings in quality of life to the app experience. Now when you tweet you probably won’t have to worry so much about the dimensions of the image you include. Is your picture too tall? Who cares. Because image previews in the app should show all of or most of the image moving forward. See Twitter’s post below for an example of what this looks like. In short, or in this case tall, image previews are more forgiving. It also makes it possible for users viewing posts in their feed to preview an entire image without having to tap on it. Which in turn makes it easier to continue scrolling through the feed and consuming more content. no bird too tall, no crop too short introducing bigger and better images on iOS and Android, now available to everyone pic.twitter.com/2buHfhfRAx — Twitter (@Twitter) May 5, 2021 A better image experience overall on Android If you use the app more on Android than you do on the web, the experience of posting or viewing images using the mobile app is much better now overall. Twitter recently rolled out 4K image support for all mobile users. So in pairing with this new cropping change, you can post bigger taller images that may just be 4K resolution and they’ll be perfectly visible to all mobile users. The same goes for you when viewing photos like this posted by others. Source: Twitter Rolls Out Taller Image Crops For Android And iOS Today
  4. You Can Now Upload, View 4K Images on Twitter for Android Twitter just flipped the switch on Android and iOS devices, allowing users to upload and view images with a resolution of up to 4K. No more complaining about crappy image quality on Twitter, okay? To enable this on your device, head into the app’s Data Usage settings menu and select when you want the app to allow for 4K upload and viewing. You can choose Never, WiFi Only, or WiFi & Mobile Data. Totally up to you, but do note, 4K images come with larger file sizes. Watch out for that data plan of yours. Sony device owners with 4K display, today is your day. It’s time to rub it in our faces. Time to Tweet those high res pics –– the option to upload and view 4K images on Android and iOS is now available for everyone. To start uploading and viewing images in 4K, update your high-quality image preferences in “Data usage” settings. https://t.co/XDnWOji3nx — Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) April 21, 2021 Source: You Can Now Upload, View 4K Images on Twitter for Android
  5. RIAA: Twitter Must License Music & Fight Piracy Without Charge The RIAA and NMPA are putting Twitter under pressure to do something about the platform's piracy problem. Slamming the company for allowing pre-release music to be distributed to the public, the industry groups say that Twitter is failing to meet its legal obligations when responding to takedown notices. Licensing is the answer, they suggest, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Over the years, a number of music industry players have taken on some of the largest content distribution platforms on the Internet over alleged copyright infringement, with varying success. Services such as Napster and LimeWire were effectively destroyed through litigation but more recent problems aren’t easily solvable in the same way. YouTube and Facebook, for example, have very deep pockets and an abundance of lawyers but perhaps more importantly, they also have the potential to become formidable long-term music distribution partners. A similar case can be made for Twitter but it is becoming increasingly clear that while the music industry would like to partner with the social platform, it’s currently disappointed with Twitter’s attitude towards copyright infringement. Last December, RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier said that while YouTube and Facebook had developed anti-piracy tools, Twitter had done nothing and things needed to change. It appears that a few months on, little has. RIAA and NMPA Chiefs Slam Twitter In an op-ed just published in Billboard, Mitch Glazier and National Music Publishers Association president David Israelite lay into Twitter again, stating that music creators and music fans deserve better from the social networking service. Noting that Twitter can be innovative when it wants to be, Glazier and Israelite say that when it comes to piracy, it’s a whole different game. “(i)n one important respect Twitter remains ‘old school’ and stubbornly refuses to use even the most basic tools when it comes to combating piracy or helping music creators prevent theft of their works on its platform. Unfortunately, the company’s efforts to innovate only seem to go so far,” they begin. With the basics out of the way, the pair swiftly turn to Twitter’s business model, implying that without music and music fans, Twitter wouldn’t be where it is today. The authors say that record companies and music publishers want the “partnership” with Twitter to work, even going as far as expressing pride in powering Twitter’s success. But unfortunately, that’s when the pleasantries end. “[T]he viral immediacy and global reach of the Twitter platform presents a double-edged sword – one that cuts especially deep for artists, songwriters, and music rightsholders who see their work leaked, copied, distributed, and monetized on the platform with almost no recourse,” they write, sounding the alarm. “Last year music creators sent more than 2 million notices to Twitter of unlicensed and infringing appearances of copyrighted music on the platform – more than 200,000 of which dealt with the especially harmful presence of not yet released stolen songs.” Twitter’s Response is “Totally Inadequate” While many platforms have been criticized by the music industry for not doing enough to combat piracy, in Twitter’s case there appears to be more under the hood. Complaining that Twitter can take “days or longer” to respond to a complaint, the industry leaders flat-out accuse Twitter of failing to meet its legal obligations – strong words when that could theoretically form the basis of a lawsuit. There is no clear suggestion of legal action at this stage but Glazier and Israelite imply that a compromise of sorts could be reached with Twitter. Interestingly the parameters being suggested seem to push Twitter much further than its legal obligations require. For example, in respect of pre-release music leaks, the music bosses want takedowns actioned almost immediately. “With pre-release leaks, takedowns must come in seconds or minutes, not days,” they write. Building upon the requirement for a real-time response, the RIAA and NMPA want Twitter to proactively find pirated music on its platform, without first having to be notified that infringement has taken place. “While Twitter’s response to takedown notices fails to meet its legal obligations, even worse is the company’s refusal to take affirmative steps to more effectively police its own platform and find unlicensed music before it is widely circulated and without waiting for a rightsholder to do the work and notice the infringement for them,” they note. “No one can see better than Twitter what happens on its system or has the access and technical capacity to address problems at the speed and scale of the network. There is much Twitter could do to address this problem.” So What Should Twitter Do? Given that the RIAA and NMPA strongly suggest they would like Twitter to be a partner, it will come as no surprise that they would like Twitter to buy its way out of its current predicament. “Most fundamentally, [Twitter] could license music and pay creators for the songs and recordings that it distributes. This is what many other services have done and it is the single most important thing the company could do to meet its obligations to artists and songwriters,” the RIAA and NMPA chiefs write. On the anti-piracy front, the industry bosses would like Twitter to be more like YouTube and Facebook by introducing automated tools and content protection technologies. These should be able to take down unlicensed copies of works before they even appear on Twitter, negating the need for “artists, songwriters, and their representatives to scour the five hundred million tweets that are posted to the platform every day.” An interesting element of the RIAA and NMPA criticism is that Twitter does have the ability to help right now but will only do so for a price. They accuse the platform of demanding “massive payments” from music creators in return for access to the company’s data flow and with that the ability to spot pirated content. “Twitter could easily provide an API with sufficient capacity and speed to allow for monitoring at scale, just as it provides to other users like researchers who it hopes will help publicize and vouch for the company’s operations and to third party vendors who sell Twitter analytics. Incredibly, despite many requests it has refused to provide it to music creators without charge,” the groups write. “Charging music creators for access to the data they need to find infringement of their own work is just another Silicon Valley shakedown – moving fast and breaking music.” In summary, the RIAA and NMPA are demanding “serious and immediate changes” to Twitter’s response to unlicensed music appearing on the platform. There are currently no indications of what might happen if those changes aren’t delivered as requested. RIAA: Twitter Must License Music & Fight Piracy Without Charge
  6. Twitter images can be abused to hide ZIP, MP3 files — here's how Yesterday, a researcher disclosed a method of hiding up to three MB of data inside a Twitter image. In his demonstration, the researcher showed both MP3 audio files and ZIP archives contained within the PNG images hosted on Twitter. Although the art of hiding non-image data in images (steganography) isn't novel, the fact that the images can be hosted on a popular website like Twitter and are not sanitized opens up a possibility for their abuse by malicious actors. An image that sings... Yesterday, researcher and programmer David Buchanan attached example images to his tweets that had data such as entire ZIP archives and MP3 files hidden within. Although the attached PNG files hosted on Twitter represent valid images when previewed, merely downloading and changing their file extension was enough to obtain different content from the same file. An example image file posted by Buchanan to Twitter contains a ZIP archive within Source: Twitter As observed by BleepingComputer the 6 KB image tweeted by the researcher contains an entire ZIP archive. The ZIP contains Buchanan's source code that anyone can use to pack miscellaneous contents into a PNG image. The PNG image tweeted by Buchanan has the structure of a valid ZIP file Source: BleepingComputer For those who prefer the slightly-less hands-on approach, the researcher has also provided source code for generating what he calls tweetable-polyglot-png files on GitHub. In another example uploaded to Twitter, Buchanan tweeted an image that could sing. "Download this one, rename to .mp3, and open in VLC for a surprise. (Note: make sure you download the full resolution version of the file, should be 2048x2048px)," said the researcher. As tested by BleepingComputer, the picture located at the Twitter image server below is approximately 2.5 MB in size and can be saved with a ".mp3" extension. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ewo_O6zWUAAWizr?format=png&name=large Once opened, the image file, now turned MP3, would start playing the song Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley. "Twitter does compress images, most of the time, but there are some scenarios where they don't." "Twitter also attempts to strip any non-essential metadata, so any existing 'polyglot file' techniques wouldn't work." "The new trick which I discovered, is that you can append data to the end of the 'DEFLATE' stream (the part of the file that stores the compressed pixel data), and Twitter will not strip it," Buchanan told BleepingComputer in an email interview. Open to abuse by stealthy threat actors Steganography techniques are often leveraged by stealthy threat actors as they enable them to hide malicious commands, payload, and other content in ordinary-looking files, such as images. Just yesterday, BleepingComputer reported on a new exfiltration technique using which cybercriminals were hiding stolen credit card data in JPG images. The fact that Twitter may not always strip extraneous information from an image, as demonstrated by Buchanan, opens up room for the platform's abuse by threat actors. Moreover, what poses an additional challenge is blocking Twitter image traffic may impact legitimate operations. For example, a network administrator blocking Twitter's image domain pbs.twimg.com would also cause legitimate images hosted on Twitter to be blocked. That being said, Buchanan believes his PNG image proof-of-concept technique may not be particularly useful by itself as more steganography methods are viable. "I don't think this technique is particularly useful for attackers, because more traditional image steganography techniques are easier to implement (and even more stealthy)." However, more likely than not, the PNG technique demonstrated by the researcher could be used by malware for facilitating its command-and-control C2 activities. "But maybe it could be used as part of a C2 system, for distributing malicious files to infected hosts," Buchanan further told BleepingComputer. Likewise, because Twitter may be considered a safe host by network monitoring systems, malware distribution via Twitter using such image files remains a viable method for bypassing security programs. When asked if Twitter was aware of this bug, the researcher told BleepingComputer: "I reported my original JPEG-based trick to Twitter's bug bounty program, but they said it wasn't a security bug, so I didn't bother reporting this one to them." In his example from 2018, as reported by BleepingComputer, Buchanan had tweeted a tiny JPG thumbnail that contained Project Gutenberg's huge collection of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare stored in a tiny JPG file on Twitter Source: BleepingComputer Previously, attackers have misused legitimate services like Imgur to host their images which were later used to calculate malicious Cobalt Strike payload. BleepingComputer has reached out to Twitter for comment before publishing this article but we have not heard back yet. Source: Twitter images can be abused to hide ZIP, MP3 files — here's how
  7. Twitter now supports multiple 2FA security keys on mobile and web Twitter has added support for multiple security keys to accounts with two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled for logging into the social network's web interface and mobile apps. "Secure your account (and that alt) with multiple security keys," Twitter said. "Now you can enroll and log in with more than one physical key on both mobile and web." The company also announced a future option for 2FA-enabled accounts to use security keys as the primary authentication method while having all other login methods disabled. "And coming soon: the option to add and use security keys as your only authentication method, without any other methods turned on," Twitter added. Twitter has added support for using security keys when logging into mobile apps (Android and iOS) for 2FA-enabled accounts in December 2020. Secure your account (and that alt) with multiple security keys. Now you can enroll and log in with more than one physical key on both mobile and web. And coming soon: the option to add and use security keys as your only authentication method, without any other methods turned on. — Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) March 15, 2021 2FA is an additional security layer for Twitter accounts that requires users to use a security key or enter a code on top of only entering a password to authenticate successfully. This makes sure that only the owner can log in and block malicious attempts to take over the account by guessing or resetting the password. While some high-profile Twitter accounts were hijacked last year even though they had 2FA enabled after attackers could gain access to internal admin systems, users should still toggle 2FA to be better protected against less-sophisticated hacking attempts. To turn on 2FA on your Twitter account, you will have to go to your profile menu into Settings and Privacy, then to Security and account access (desktop) or Account > Security (iOS) and toggle on Two-factor authentication. Over the weekend, Twitter addressed a bug causing users to become temporarily suspended when tweeting the word 'Memphis.' Source: Twitter now supports multiple 2FA security keys on mobile and web
  8. Russian attempt to throttle Twitter appears to backfire Begin with 99 problems. Solve one with a regex. You now have 108 problems... Enlarge / The head of the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), Andrei Lipov, during a meeting with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, at the Moscow Kremlin. Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS (Photo by Alexei NikolskyTASS via Getty Images) Kentik Director of Internet Analysis Doug Madory observed this morning that traffic to Russian state ISP Rostelecom dropped significantly in the wake of its attempt to throttle Twitter. The outages seem to have been caused by a poorly crafted substring in a blocklist/network shaping tool maintained by Russia's Roskomnadzor bureau. What Roskomnadzor intended was to slow down access to Twitter's link shortening service, t.co. All links embedded in tweets are automatically wrapped through this service, which enables Twitter to monitor the types and quality of links its users share. Russian authorities have railed against Twitter for some time due to the service's failure or refusal to remove content illegal in Russia. This includes content that is illegal in most of the world and violates Twitter's own terms of service, such as self harm and child sexualization—but Roskomnadzor only claims 2,000 or so such posts over the course of a year. It seems likely that the real sticking point for the agency is posts encouraging children to join Russian opposition protests. Enlarge / Network analytics vendor Kentik recorded a serious disruption to traffic headed toward Russian state-managed ISP Rostelecom as the Twitter throttles were put into effect. Doug Madory PBS reports on the unintended effects of Roskomnadzor's Twitter throttling: As the Russian authorities slowed down Twitter, some government websites suffered outages and access problems. It’s not clear if the events were connected, and some experts suggested they could have been the result of unrelated cyberattacks. The Ministry of Digital Development acknowledged outages on some government websites but said they were linked to equipment problems at communications provider Rostelecom. Madory credits Russian 3D artist Gregory Kodyrev with finding a link between the Twitter throttle and far more widespread slowdowns—apparently, Roskomnadzor inadvertently blocked or throttled all domains containing the string t.co rather than blocking only the domain t.co itself. This would cause the throttle or block to be applied to—for instance—microsoft.com, reddit.com, and even Russian state-operated news site rt.com. We do not have access to any IP addresses behind Roskomnadzor's traffic filtering service in order to test this claim, but it appears to be a reasonable explanation for the concrete observations of reduced traffic to Rostelecom networks. Russian attempt to throttle Twitter appears to backfire
  9. Twitter is refusing to link users to Kickass.to, the second largest torrent index on the Internet. People who attempt to access the site through Twitter get a warning that the site may be unsafe and potentially harmful. Questions to Twitter about the reason for this unusual blockade remain unanswered. With millions of unique visitors per day KickassTorrents is one of the most used torrent sites, trailing only behind The Pirate Bay. The site indexes millions of torrents, some of which are then shared through Facebook, Twitter and other social media. For example, author Alex Sayf Cummings posted a link to a torrent of his book Music Piracy And The Remaking Of American Copyright in a tweet recently. Cummings was obviously inviting people to grab a free copy from the site, but Twitter is not making that easy. Those who click on the link in question are presented with an ominous warning. “The site you were trying to visit may be unsafe! This link has been flagged as potentially harmful.” In the grey-on-black fine print in the bottom right corner, Twitter points out that people can proceed to the site at their own risk, but not everybody may be that gutsy. The big question of course is why Twitter classified KickassTorrents as an unsafe website. TF contacted the company for an explanation, but 24 hours later we have yet to hear back. On its website Twitter claims to use Google’s safe browsing diagnostic tool, but the Kickass.to domain is not blocked here. Perhaps even stranger, KickassTorrent’s old domain Kat.ph gets the same blocking treatment. It appears that Twitter has decided on its own that the torrent site is a no-go zone for users. This is an option, as the site explains in one of its help sections. “Even if Google’s diagnostic report of the URL is clean, we may decide to continue blocking the URL on Twitter as potentially harmful,” Twitter notes. Whether the fact that KickassTorrent’s links to a lot of copyright infringing content has anything to do with the blockade is unknown. Previously Facebook restricted access to The Pirate Bay for the same reason, but this decision was reversed after a few months. Thus far, Kickass.to appears to be the only large torrent site that’s blocked by Twitter, but perhaps it’s just the start? Source: TorrentFreak
  10. Days after the Supreme Court denied Kim Dotcom access to evidence held by the FBI, the Megaupload founder's legal team were back in court seeking other documents in connection with a compensation claim. During the hearing, however, a Crown lawyer took the opportunity to complain about Dotcom's use of Twitter. Last week the Supreme Court handed a significant blow to Kim Dotcom and his associates with a ruling confirming they would not be entitled to receive any more than a summary of the claims in the extradition case against them. Just days later and the Megaupload and Mega.co.nz founder’s legal team were back in court in connection with their huge compensation claim against the New Zealand police and the government’s GCSB spy agency following the raid on Dotcom’s Coatville mansion in 2012. The claim, for breaches of the Bill of Rights Act and the Government Communications and Security Bureau Act, spans not only Kim Dotcom but also his wife Mona, three of his Megaupload associates, plus one of their wives. On the basis that the surveillance leading up to the raid was carried out illegally, and that the raid itself was executed by the police using excessive force, the claim for compensation has reached around NZ$5m (US$4.27m) In the High Court in Auckland this morning, Dotcom lawyer Paul Davison said that he believed that additional documents being held by the government should be revealed as part of the discovery process. Should such documents exist, Davison said, then he would ask that Justice Winkelmann orders their disclosure. However, Crown lawyer David Boldt said there was nothing left to hand over. “The defendants at least have discovered thousands of documents in this proceeding and have been extraordinarily diligent in scouring records for relevant material,” Boldt said. “What I can say is, if that material existed, it would have been discovered, and we’ve sworn affidavits to the effect that this is all there is.” The Crown also took the opportunity to attack Dotcom’s use of Twitter, a service used by the Megaupload founder to give his followers a window into his private life. Dotcom posts tweets several times every day, sometimes giving his 350,000 followers updates on his family but on other occasions referring to his ongoing legal battles with both the United States and New Zealand governments. That has included the posting documents connected to his case Crown lawyer Kristy McDonald said that through his actions on Twitter, Dotcom had demonstrated “considerable disregard” for court processes and suggested that any documents obtained by Dotcom might end up getting published on the social networking platform. “Is this about obtaining documents so they can be put out in the public arena?” McDonald questioned. The notion was dismissed by Dotcom’s lawyer. This is the second attack on Dotcom’s use of Twitter. In December 2013, the U.S. Government claimed that the entrepreneur’s use of the social networking site made his defense less credible. Dotcom’s legal team, however, suggested that government attempts “to widely disseminate a one-sided, cherry-picked set of facts” threatened to “infect the jury pool before defendants are afforded any opportunity to present their side of the story.” In the meantime, Dotcom’s tweets continue. Although not mentioning anyone by name, Dotcom today criticized former security staff for “leaking family secrets” and demanding large sums of money. He said that rumors suggesting he treats his staff badly are untrue. The compensation hearings, which will continue in the High Court tomorrow, will see Dotcom’s lawyers argue that the manner in which the 2012 raid was carried out breached his human rights. Earlier this year the Court of Appeal decided that the warrants used in the raid were not in themselves unlawful. Dotcom’s appeal to the Supreme Court in that matter is pending. Source: TorrentFreak
  11. Yet another President Trump tweet has been removed following a complaint. This one, however, is now part of a copyright lawsuit filed by British singer-songwriter Eddy Grant over the unlicensed use of his 1982 song 'Electric Avenue'. According to the complaint, which demands up to $150,000 in damages, the video containing the track remained live on Twitter, despite demands it was taken down. For the overwhelming majority of Twitter users, receiving even a very small number of copyright complaints against their account can mean its loss, with Twitter invoking its repeat infringer policy to avoid liability under the DMCA. For US President Donald Trump, however, special treatment is available on the platform. While contentious tweets do get removed, Trump’s account remains intact, despite a steady stream of rightsholders filing DMCA notices. Yesterday, however, one of his allegedly-infringing tweets resulted in more robust action. Allegedly-Infringing Tweet Was Posted in August With the 2020 United States presidential election campaign in full swing, Trump is taking every opportunity to paint Democratic opponent Joe Biden in an unfavorable light. These political attacks often take place via Twitter and last month Trump kept up the pressure, posting an animated video of a speedy train carrying his campaign logo ahead of Joe Biden on a railroad handcar, struggling to keep up. While that kind of imagery is nothing new in US politics and seems to have been custom-created, the background music in the video – the 1982 hit ‘Electric Avenue’ by British singer-songwriter Eddy Grant – was a previously-existing work. In fact, according to a lawsuit filed by the artist in a New York court yesterday, the use of the track was an act of blatant copyright infringement. Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Filed in New York The complaint, filed in the Southern District of New York, has Edmond Grant, two companies named Greenheart Music Limited (one based in the UK, the other Antigua, both owned by Grant) suing both Donald Trump and his campaign, Donald J. Trump For President Inc. The complaint states that after Trump tweeted the video on August 12, the next day Grant and Greenheart Music sent a letter to the defendants demanding the removal of the video and insisting that they refrain from using Electric Avenue moving forward. The lawsuit further alleges that at the time of its filing on September 1, the video was still available on Twitter. This is curious since according to information published by the Lumen Database, on August 13 Twitter received a DMCA takedown notice from Sony/ATV Music Publishing demanding the removal of the tweet. It has now been actioned with the offending tweet being removed, but Lumen only received a copy from Twitter today, perhaps suggesting something unusual with its processing. “Plaintiffs’ Recording, which embodies the Composition, can be heard on the Infringing Video starting at the 15 second mark and continues for the duration of the video. The Infringing Video therefore makes unauthorized use of the Composition and the Recording and infringes upon Plaintiffs’ copyrights in both,” the complaint reads. “Defendants’ conduct is unlawful; it is proscribed as such by the United States Copyright Act. Neither the President nor the Company is above the law,” it adds. A Very Popular Video, Complaint Alleges According to estimates presented by the plaintiffs, the video has been viewed more than 13.7 million times, “liked” more than 350,000 times, and re-tweeted 139,000 times. This, despite Trump and his campaign being put on notice via an August 13 letter sent by Grant’s attorney to cease-and-desist their infringing conduct. “Defendants have failed and/or refused to comply with Plaintiffs’ demands set forth in the August 13, 2020 letter, have continued to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights in the Composition and the Recording, and, upon information and belief, will continue to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights in the Composition and the Recording unless enjoined by this Court,” the complaint adds. Permanent Injunction and Damages Describing the actions of Trump and his campaign as “willful and intentional”, the lawsuit demands a permanent injunction to prevent further infringement plus a damages amount to be determined at trial. That could range from a minimum of $750 per infringement but could stretch to $150,000 per infringement in statutory damages, plus costs and attorneys’ fees, the complaint warns. Interestingly, the cease-and-desist sent by Grant’s legal team on August 13 offered to settle the matter quickly, in order to avoid the relatively expensive option of a lawsuit. Whether that option remains on the table is unclear but from its text, it appears that Grant was personally upset, not just by the alleged infringement of Electric Avenue, but also by the context in which it was used. Perhaps More Than ‘Just Another’ Copyright Lawsuit Electric Avenue was written by Grant in response to the now-historic riots that took place in Brixton, London, during 1981. They were widely attributed to racism, poverty, and tensions between black youths and the mainly white police force of the time. The cease-and-desist sent by Grant’s team in August suggests that the use of Electric Avenue in the Trump campaign video “indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of the very meaning of the underlying work” and notes that just by being affiliated with Trump’s campaign, Grant’s reputation is being damaged. As a result, a large response could follow. “If you know my client’s reputation then you know that this Infringing Use in connection with the name ‘Trump’ in a political context is a serious transgression and could subject you to upwards of $100,000,000 in monetary damages,” the letter warned. The full complaint and August cease-and-desist letter are available here and here (pdf) Source: TorrentFreak
  12. Twitter claimed it was reversing course late Thursday and would no longer forbid users from tweeting links to websites containing hacked material—so long as the hackers themselves weren’t the ones doing the sharing. “We will no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them,” said Twitter general counsel Vijaya Gadde. The decision—a response to the conservative uproar over the blocking of an unverified, self-contradictory, and error-filled smear piece about a presidential candidate weeks before an election—would have brought Twitter’s policies more in line with how U.S. law treats journalists who republish stolen material; which is to say, it generally (but not always) protects their right to do so, provided they aren’t involved in the actual stealing. Unfortunately, it turns out Twitter’s decision to abolish the rule is being unequally applied, which is also sort of fitting. The rule itself was never fairly administered. The best obvious example of Twitter selectively enforcing the rule is WikiLeaks, which exists solely to publish stolen secrets; many, if not most, pilfered electronically. If a reporter had emailed a Twitter spokesperson last week asking if the platforms bans accounts that disseminate hacked emails, the spokesperson would have said “yes, we do,” and offered a link to the company’s rules. But if the same reporter then asked, “Well, what about all those stolen Democratic emails from 2016?” the spokesperson would have quietly backed away from their keyboard and maybe gone outside for a smoke. This is exactly how Twitter responded to me in June when it decided to prevent users from sharing links to the website ddosecrets.com. The website, run by a handful of journalists and transparency activists operating under the name DDoSecrets, is still banned by Twitter, even though CEO Jack Dorsey has claimed doing so is “wrong.” (Go ahead and try to tweet it yourself.) Twitter also banned the @DDoSecrets account, and it remains banned today. Twitter took aggressive action against DDoSecrets for publishing one of the largest repositories of leaked U.S. law enforcement files—some 270-gigabytes worth of documents from more than 200 police departments dating as far back as 1996. A decent portion, comprising things like outdated training manuals and old FBI bulletins, are completely benign, if not objectively boring. Crime is down, after all, and 90 percent of being a cop is learning how to cope with sitting on your ass all day. After the announcement by Twitter on Thursday, I reached out to ask why the @DDoSecrets account was still suspended and why users are still banned from posting links to its website. Twitter did not respond. Not even to tell me it was “working on it.” I also asked why Twitter had banned users from tweeting links to another of DDoSecrets’ websites, AssangeLeaks.org, which doesn’t actually contain any stolen or hacked material. According to Lorax Horne, the site’s editor, Twitter banned the URL when the page displayed nothing but a countdown clock. Today it only offers links to 10-year-old chat logs—potentially evidence the U.S. government is using in WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition case. “No, they were not hacked,” Horne said of the chat logs. To no avail, DDoSecrets has filed multiple appeals seeking clarification on how Twitter’s rules are enforced. “They blocked our whole fu**ing website and every subsequent website we published,” said Horne. “Reddit also blocks our URL, now. But Twitter blocked us first, so get a special trophy.” Twitter’s silence is presumably the result of having already gotten what it wanted: A slew of headlines this morning declaring something that is just patently untrue. Source
  13. NEW YORK (Reuters) - Twitter Inc suffered from cybersecurity shortfalls that enabled a “simple” hack attributed to a Florida teenager to take over the accounts of several of the world’s most famous people in July, according to a report released on Wednesday. The report by New York’s Department of Financial Services also recommended that the largest social media companies be deemed systemically important, like some banks following the 2008 financial crisis, with a dedicated regulator monitoring their ability to combat cyberattacks and election interference. “That Twitter was vulnerable to an unsophisticated attack shows that self-regulation is not the answer,” said Linda Lacewell, the financial services superintendent. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has acknowledged that some employees were duped into sharing account credentials prior to the hack. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered a probe following the July 15 hack of celebrity Twitter accounts, in an alleged scam that stole more than $118,000 in Bitcoin. Those whose accounts were hacked included U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden; former President Barack Obama; billionaires Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Elon Musk; singer Kanye West, and his wife Kim Kardashian, the reality TV star. Lacewell said hackers obtained log-in credentials after calling several employees, pretending to work in Twitter’s information technology department, and claiming to be responding to problems with the company’s Virtual Private Network, which had become common because employees were working from home. “The extraordinary access the hackers obtained with this simple technique underscores Twitter’s cybersecurity vulnerability and the potential for devastating consequences,” the report said. Twitter’s lack at the time of a chief information security officer also made the San Francisco-based company more vulnerable, the report said. Florida prosecutors said Graham Ivan Clark was the mastermind behind the hack, and charged the 17-year-old Tampa resident as an adult with 30 felonies. Clark has pleaded not guilty. Federal prosecutors charged two others with aiding the hack. Source
  14. Twitter launches new API as it tries to make amends with third-party developers Wooing developers with a new API Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Twitter is making it easier for businesses, academics, and third-party developers to build on its platform with the launch of its API v2 today. The company announced the new API last month, but as the news arrived the day after it was hit by one of the most devastating hacks in social media history, it decided to delay the launch. Notably, Twitter is presenting the API v2 not only as a way to deliver new features faster, but as something of a reset in its long and fractious relationship with the app’s developer community. The API v2 is the first complete rebuild of Twitter’s API since 2012, when the company famously began limiting how third-party developers could build on its product. Prior to this, outside developers could more or less replicate and customize the Twitter experience in their own clients. But as Twitter focused more on its advertising business, it apparently decided it didn’t want to split its user base. It began slowly squeezing out third-party devs, blocking them from new features like polls and group DMs, and shepherding users toward the company’s own apps. Businesses were killed and developers weren’t happy. Now, though, Twitter is trying to rebuild some of these bridges. The API v2 offers third-party developers access to features long absent from their clients, including “conversation threading, poll results in Tweets, pinned Tweets on profiles, spam filtering, and a more powerful stream filtering and search query language.” There’s also access to a real-time tweet stream, rather than forcing third parties to wait before serving new tweets. This should mean that, following the API v2 launch, third-party Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific can begin integrating these features, though there are some caveats. The big is one is that Twitter is reorganizing its API access along three levels. Only the basic, free level is launching today, and that has limits on how many API calls developers can make (aka how frequently their software can ping Twitter for data). The next level of access, which Twitter is calling “elevated,” won’t have the same restrictions, but it will cost users, and Twitter isn’t announcing pricing just yet. The company does say, though, that it expects 80 percent of developers on its platform will have their needs met by the basic tier. The new API system puts different products in the same platform, each with different access levels. Only the free basic access level launches today. Image: Twitter Before the details are shared, it’s difficult to say what changes will happen to third-party clients, Ged Maheux, co-founder of Twitterific’s parent company Iconfactory, tells The Verge. He says the new API is “potentially very good for third party Twitter clients,” but that Iconfactory is taking a “wait and see” approach until they know details, particularly pricing. But Maheux says he and his colleagues have also been impressed by Twitter’s conciliatory approach to developers. “Over the last few years, Twitter hasn’t been great and they know it. But they fully recognize and admit it,” he says. “After so long being a third or fourth class citizen with Twitter, it’s refreshing.” The new API is about more than just third-party Twitter clients, though. A whole range of businesses and services depend on access to Twitter’s data, including analytics firms like Spiketrap and Social Market Analytics, single-use bots like the House of Lords Hansard bot and Emoji Mashup bot, and power-user tools like TweetDelete, Block Party, and Tokimeki Unfollow. Twitter also offers an incredibly rich source of data for academics studying large-scale social trends. Researchers uses Twitter’s API for a variety of purposes, from gauging flood levels from tweets to tracking the spread of online hate speech. Twitter says it wants to encourage more of these sorts of applications by making its API ecosystem more accessible. A new onboarding wizard, for example, reduces the number of fields third parties have to fill out to get their hands on API keys from 10 to just one, while new search tools to find support documentation and a new centralized support page will make it easier for developers to find help when they need it. As Twitter’s Alyssa Reese put it in a blog post on the changes: “You see, we want developers to get moon-eyed when they talk about our documentation. To have error messages that are so helpful they’re almost as pleasant as getting a handwritten letter in the mail. Our aim is to be a company that other developer platforms reference when they are looking for inspiration (and we know we have a way to go).” Unifying API access should also help users. Previously, Twitter’s API was split into three platforms: standard (free), premium (self-serve paid), and enterprise (custom paid). But as Twitter itself admits, migration between these tiers was “tedious.” The new API replaces these tiers with “product tracks” in a single platform, with these products then split into the different tiers of access described above. Although the API v2 is undoubtedly a big launch for Twitter, the company is stressing that it’s a work in progress. It’s calling the current phase “early access” to emphasize the evolving nature of the API, and it’s encouraging developers to look over its new public roadmap and offer their thoughts on upcoming features. Twitter, then, is recognizing that fixing any troubled relationship starts with a conversation. Twitter launches new API as it tries to make amends with third-party developers
  15. Twitter rolls out reply-limiting feature to everyone Last week, Twitter's feature that allows you to choose who can reply to your tweets became available on iOS and the web. Today, that capability is available on Android as well, expanding the feature to everyone. Suzanne Xie, Director of Product Management at Twitter, announced today the feature's wider availability. In May, the micro-blogging site started testing letting users limit the people who can respond to their tweets. Xie noted that this capability is meant to provide users "more control over the conversations they start". You can set the limit to any of the three types of audiences. The default setting will make your tweet available for everyone to reply to. The other two options are people you follow and the people you mention. The option to set restrictions will show up when you click or tap on the compose button. Depending on your selection, the appropriate labels will appear for your tweet. In addition, the reply icon will be grayed out for users who can't reply to it, although they still can view, retweet, retweet with a comment, like, or share that tweet. Studies conducted and feedback gathered by Twitter since testing the feature revealed that the ability to limit replies to tweets helps "some people feel safer and could lead to more meaningful conversations, while still allowing people to see different points of view". Moving forward, the firm is planning on an easier way of letting you find the entire discussion through retweets with comments in order to help you "see different perspectives". It's also developing a new form of label that will let people more easily see tweets with these settings. And in the coming months, the service plans to allow you to invite more people to join the conversation and clear notifications if you’re invited to a conversation. Twitter rolls out reply-limiting feature to everyone
  16. Twitter fixes vulnerability in its Android app that could have exposed DMs Twitter revealed today a vulnerability that might have dealt yet another major blow to its security posture. The micro-blogging site has announced that it recently fixed a security issue with its Android app that could have allowed attackers to access your Direct Messages and other private data through a malicious app. The vulnerability is related to a security issue with Android that affected only versions 8 and 9. Twitter noted that the security flaw could circumvent Android's system permissions that safeguard against unauthorized access to private data. It turns out that Google fixed the issue in October 2018 through a security patch, which has already been made available to 96% of Twitter users on Android. For now, Twitter found no evidence that this vulnerability was exploited. However, the company is not completely certain that this will always be the case, so it has updated its Android app to prevent external apps from gaining access to Twitter's in-app data. In addition, it is sending out in-app notifications to those who might have been affected, requiring them to update their app to its latest version. Finally, Twitter vowed to identify changes to its processes to avoid issues like this in the future. Though the vulnerability did not affect the service's web and iOS apps, the alert has also been sent out via Twitter's web version. Twitter fixes vulnerability in its Android app that could have exposed DMs
  17. Porn Clip Disrupts Virtual Court Hearing for Alleged Twitter Hacker Perhaps fittingly, a Web-streamed court hearing for the 17-year-old alleged mastermind of the July 15 mass hack against Twitter was cut short this morning after mischief makers injected a pornographic video clip into the proceeding. 17-year-old Graham Clark of Tampa, Fla. was among those charged in the July 15 Twitter hack. Image: Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. The incident occurred at a bond hearing held via the videoconferencing service Zoom by the Hillsborough County, Fla. criminal court in the case of Graham Clark. The 17-year-old from Tampa was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of social engineering his way into Twitter’s internal computer systems and tweeting out a bitcoin scam through the accounts of high-profile Twitter users. Notice of the hearing was available via public records filed with the Florida state attorney’s office. The notice specified the Zoom meeting time and ID number, essentially allowing anyone to participate in the proceeding. Even before the hearing officially began it was clear that the event would likely be “zoom bombed.” That’s because while participants were muted by default, they were free to unmute their microphones and transmit their own video streams to the channel. Sure enough, less than a minute had passed before one attendee not party to the case interrupted a discussion between Clark’s attorney and the judge by streaming a live video of himself adjusting his face mask. Just a few minutes later, someone began interjecting loud music. It became clear that presiding Judge Christopher C. Nash was personally in charge of administering the video hearing when, after roughly 15 seconds worth of random chatter interrupted the prosecution’s response, Nash told participants he was removing the troublemakers as quickly as he could. Judge Nash, visibly annoyed immediately after one of the many disruptions to today’s hearing. What transpired a minute later was almost inevitable given the permissive settings of this particular Zoom conference call: Someone streamed a graphic video clip from Pornhub for approximately 15 seconds before Judge Nash abruptly terminated the broadcast. With the ongoing pestilence that is the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation’s state and federal courts have largely been forced to conduct proceedings remotely via videoconferencing services. While Zoom and others do offer settings that can prevent participants from injecting their own audio and video into the stream unless invited to do so, those settings evidently were not enabled in today’s meeting. At issue before the court today was a defense motion to modify the amount of the defendant’s bond, which has been set at $750,000. The prosecution had argued that Clark should be required to show that any funds used toward securing that bond were gained lawfully, and were not merely the proceeds from his alleged participation in the Twitter bitcoin scam or some other form of cybercrime. Florida State Attorney Andrew Warren’s reaction as a Pornhub clip began streaming to everyone in today’s Zoom proceeding. Mr. Clark’s attorneys disagreed, and spent most of the uninterrupted time in today’s hearing explaining why their client could safely be released under a much smaller bond and close supervision restrictions. On Sunday, The New York Times published an in-depth look into Clark’s wayward path from a small-time cheater and hustler in online games like Minecraft to big-boy schemes involving SIM swapping, a form of fraud that involves social engineering employees at mobile phone companies to gain control over a target’s phone number and any financial, email and social media accounts associated with that number. According to The Times, Clark was suspected of being involved in a 2019 SIM swapping incident which led to the theft of 164 bitcoins from Gregg Bennett, a tech investor in the Seattle area. That theft would have been worth around $856,000 at the time; these days 164 bitcoins is worth approximately $1.8 million. The Times said that soon after the theft, Bennett received an extortion note signed by Scrim, one of the hacker handles alleged to have been used by Clark. From that story: “We just want the remainder of the funds in the Bittrex,” Scrim wrote, referring to the Bitcoin exchange from which the coins had been taken. “We are always one step ahead and this is your easiest option.” In April, the Secret Service seized 100 Bitcoins from Mr. Clark, according to government forfeiture documents. A few weeks later, Mr. Bennett received a letter from the Secret Service saying they had recovered 100 of his Bitcoins, citing the same code that was assigned to the coins seized from Mr. Clark. Florida prosecutor Darrell Dirks was in the middle of explaining to the judge that investigators are still in the process of discovering the extent of Clark’s alleged illegal hacking activities since the Secret Service returned the 100 bitcoin when the porn clip was injected into the Zoom conference. Ultimately, Judge Nash decided to keep the bond amount as is, but to remove the condition that Clark prove the source of the funds. Clark has been charged with 30 felony counts and is being tried as an adult. Federal prosecutors also have charged two other young men suspected of playing roles in the Twitter hack, including a 22-year-old from Orlando, Fla. and a 19-year-old from the United Kingdom. Porn Clip Disrupts Virtual Court Hearing for Alleged Twitter Hacker
  18. Tweetz is an open-source Twitter client for Windows Last week, we told you how to get the old Twitter interface back, using GoodTwitter 2. Before I came across it, I had been looking for extensions and other solutions. One of these was a Twitter client, called Tweetz. It's an an open-source program for windows, that you can use to view your timeline from your desktop. You cannot customize the location where Tweetz gets installed. When the program is run, you will see the following screen. It tells you click on the "Get Pin" button to authorize your account. Hit the button and a new tab should open in your browser. Login to Twitter and authorize the application. Here's the list of permissions it requires. It's pretty much standard for a Twitter client to have such options. Twitter will display a PIN that you'll need to enter in Tweetz. Paste it in the field that's available and click on the sign in button. Tweetz has a minimal interface with a dark theme. You can resize the window to make it larger or smaller. The navigation bar at the top of the window has five buttons. Clicking the Home button takes you to your timeline. The heart icon lists tweets that you've liked. The magnifying glass is the Search shortcut. Oddly, the "@ mentions" are located on the search page, so if you want to see tweets that you've been tagged in (replies from other users), you've to click on the @ button to fetch the mentions. It would've been better if it had its own shortcut on the nav bar. The gear cog icon is used to access the program's settings. You may hide images, profile pictures, extended content, your username in the title bar, tweets that contain sensitive content. Tweetz can be set to stay on top of other programs, start automatically with Windows, minimized to the system tray. Drag the font size slider towards the right to adjust the text size. There are 3 themes in Tweetz: Light, Nord and Dark. The application stores its settings in a text file. The settings page lists a few tips on how to control the program. Right-click (on any page) to scroll to the top, click on a timestamp to open the link in your browser, Ctrl + N to post a new tweet, etc. Speaking of, hit the tweet button in the top right corner to post a tweet. The + button in the tweet compose window can be used to add images (GIF, JPG, PNG, WEBP formats) or videos (MP4). You can use Tweetz to post Tweets, retweet, retweet with comment, reply to tweets, like tweets, and follow users from the timeline. The program automatically pauses the timeline when you scroll down, and allows you to read the currently loaded tweets. Mouse over a link to view the full URL, or over a profile picture or username to view the profile info. Click on an image to view a larger version of it, that opens in a pop-up window. It has 2 buttons that lets you copy the picture's URL or the image to clipboard. To return to your timeline, click on the image again. Tweetz can play twitter videos too, and uses a pop-up player for it. Its controls are similar to the built-in image viewer. No program is perfect. Let's discuss the flaws of the program. There is no way to manage your Twitter account from within the program. Tweetz does not support lists, which may not be a deal breaker for many, but as a user with customized lists I was disappointed. The biggest drawback however is that when you click on a Tweet, a timestamp or a profile, it doesn't open a pop-up window to display the content. Instead, it opens the link in your default browser. The program is written in .NET Core. A portable version of Tweetz is available, it's called the self-contained version. Note: This review is not based on the latest version that was released a few days ago. I used version 2.6.2 from about two weeks ago. The program displays a "Consider donating" Tweet from the developer from time to time. It is displayed even if you aren't following him on Twitter. Tweetz is impressive, but I would've liked it more if it opened Tweets and profile pages in its interface, rather than sending them to the web browser. If I were to rate it in a point system, it definitely gets extra points simply because it. does not use the "modern Twitter interface". Landing Page: https://github.com/mike-ward/tweetz/releases Tweetz is an open-source Twitter client for Windows
  19. Twitter is building a subscription platform codenamed Gryphon Three years ago, Twitter considered offering subscriptions for its social media dashboard, TweetDeck. That service would have provided news alerts and analytics to customers willing to pay for a monthly fee, but it didn't materialize. Now, the company appears to be carrying on with its subscription push, if a new job listing is any indication (via VentureBeat). Twitter posted a job opening on its career portal in search for a "Senior Full-stack Software Engineer" who will join its new team, codenamed Gryphon. The listing reveals that the group is developing a subscription platform that can be reused by other teams in the future. It consists of web engineers working with both the payments and Twitter.com teams. The full-stack engineer will be responsible for Gryphon's payment and subscription client work. The team will be distributed across different locations including London, San Francisco, Boston, and New York. The subscription model is seen as a part of Twitter's efforts to explore additional revenue streams beyond advertising, which primarily contributes to its income. It's not clear, though, how the micro-blogging site plans to implement the subscription platform and what services it will offer. Twitter is building a subscription platform codenamed Gryphon
  20. Coinbase says it halted more than $280,000 in bitcoin transactions during Twitter hack The company blacklisted the bitcoin address Illustration by Alex Castro The cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase said that it stopped around 1,100 customers from sending bitcoin to hackers who gained access to high-profile Twitter accounts last week. Last Wednesday, over 100 Twitter accounts, some belonging to major companies like Apple and high-profile people like Vice President Joe Biden and Bill Gates, were hacked as part of a massive coordinated bitcoin scam. According to Twitter, the hackers were able to convince some of the company’s employees to use internal systems and tools to access the accounts and help the hackers defraud users into sending them bitcoin. According to Forbes, Coinbase and other cryptocurrency exchanges were able to stop some customers from sending bitcoin to the hackers by blacklisting the hackers’ wallet address. Specifically, Coinbase says it prevented just over 1,000 customers from sending around $280,000 worth of bitcoin during last Wednesday’s attack. Roughly 14 Coinbase users sent around $3,000 worth of bitcoin to the scam’s bitcoin address before the company moved to blacklist it, the company said. “We noticed the scam and began blocking transactions within a couple of minutes of the initial wave of scam posts,” a Coinbase spokesperson told The Verge on Monday. Twitter accounts belonging to cryptocurrency exchanges including Binance and Gemini were also targeted during Wednesday’s attack. Coinbase’s chief information officer told Forbes on Sunday that it learned of the scam shortly after tweets were posted from fellow exchanges’ accounts. As of Monday, Twitter is still investigating Wednesday’s attack. On Friday, the company put out a blog post confirming that 130 accounts were targeted and the hackers were able to initiative a password reset, log in to the account, and send tweets for 45 of those accounts. Twitter also said that the hackers were able to download account data belonging to eight unverified users. Coinbase says it halted more than $280,000 in bitcoin transactions during Twitter hack
  21. Google, Facebook, and Twitter halt government data requests after new Hong Kong security law The companies are reviewing a new security law that gives China power to stifle dissent Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Google, Facebook, and Twitter are pausing the processing of data requests from the Hong Kong government as they review a new security law that went into effect on July 1st. Google put its pause into place as soon as the law took effect last Wednesday. “[W]hen the law took effect, we paused production on any new data requests from Hong Kong authorities,” a Google spokesperson told The Verge in an email, “and we’ll continue to review the details of the new law,” the spokesperson said. Twitter also halted its handling of government requests as of July 1st, with Facebook announcing its pause on Monday, The New York Times reported. Social media platforms typically produce private user information in response to valid court orders, depending on the legal process in various countries. But under this new position, all the companies will, at least temporarily, ignore the requests coming from the government of Hong Kong. The new policies are in response to China’s new national security law in Hong Kong, which was first proposed in May. Hong Kong has traditionally enjoyed significant independence from mainland China, but the central Chinese government has tightened restrictions on speech in Hong Kong in recent months, bringing a gradual end to the “one country, two systems” principle. China’s push toward more control has led to widespread protests across Hong Kong, which began last year. In particular, the new security law gives China the power to limit political dissent against the Communist Party, making it unlawful to engage in “secession, subversion, organization and perpetration of terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.” Those powers are particularly relevant for social platforms, which may be hosting the now-criminalized subversive activities. Google, Facebook, and Twitter have both been banned in China for several years, part of the so-called “Great Firewall,” under which government censors and monitors track online activity. The new security law has already compelled several political opposition parties in Hong Kong to disband, NPR reported, and is expected to further chill political dissent against Beijing in Hong Kong. “We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email to The Verge. Twitter says it is reviewing the new law to assess the implications, adding many terms of the new law are “vague and without clear definition,” a spokesperson wrote in an email to The Verge. “Like many public interest organizations, civil society leaders and entities, and industry peers, we have grave concerns regarding both the developing process and the full intention of this law.” Facebook has a process for reviewing government requests, which takes into account its own policies and local laws as well as international human rights standards, the spokesperson added. “We are pausing the review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts.” Facebook has offices in China and uses Chinese suppliers to manufacture some of its hardware, including its Oculus VR headsets and its Portal video chat devices. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has attempted to mend relations with China in the past, meeting with Communist Party leaders while in Beijing for an economic forum in 2016. More recently, he’s pushed concerns about China setting the terms for online engagement. “If another nation’s platform sets the rules,” Zuckerberg said last year, “our nation’s discourse could be defined by a completely different set of values.” Google, Facebook, and Twitter halt government data requests after new Hong Kong security law
  22. Twitter makes it harder for criminals to hack your account Hardware security keys can now be used for mobile logins (Image credit: Shutterstock) Twitter has released a new update that allows hardware security keys to be used when logging in from mobile devices. The social network confirmed that switching to a new security protocol last year has meant that it is now able to offer the same level of robust protection to mobile users as it does to those logging in via desktop PCs and laptops. Hardware security keys were initially rolled out by Twitter in 2018, allowing desktop users of the social media platform to utilize a physical authentication option. However, some technical limitations meant that this approach wasn’t supported outside of the Twitter web app. Twitter has now confirmed that following the decision to adopt the WebAuthn security protocol in May last year, it is now in a position to offer hardware security keys to mobile account users. Security is key Hardware keys have become increasingly popular as a security tool in recent times as they make it practically impossible for some forms of cyberattack to take place. Earlier this year, for example, Twitter provided its own staff with security keys in response to a hack that allowed attackers to spread a cryptocurrency scam. What’s more, there is a growing acceptance that other forms of two-factor authentication, particularly those that use SMS messaging or voice calls, remain vulnerable. Hardware security keys are also more widely available today, with some specifically catering to mobile devices. Although the launch of security keys for mobile logins will be welcomed, it will probably not be enough to restore Twitter’s damaged reputation in the world of online security. Its employees recently came top of Dashlane’s list of the worst password offenders of 2020. Via TechCrunch Twitter makes it harder for criminals to hack your account
  23. The social media platform says it'll retroactively apply its changed policy on hacked materials. Twitter has reversed course on its decision to lock the New York Post account, saying Friday that it's allowing the publication to tweet again. The change in stance comes after Twitter altered its Hacked Materials Policy, which is the policy that initially led the company to restrict the New York Post account. The social media platform retroactively applied the changed policy to the newspaper's account, Twitter said in a tweet. "This means that because a specific @nypost enforcement led us to update the Hacked Materials Policy, we will no longer restrict their account under the terms of the previous policy and they can now tweet again," Twitter said. The company called its policies "living documents" that are updated based on feedback and new situations. "We're baaaaaaack," NY Post tweeted, alongside an image of a newspaper front page with a blue Twitter bird flying out of a cage. Twitter came under fire two weeks ago for limiting the reach of the New York Post article on Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden because the social media company said the report was based on hacked materials. Soon after, Twitter backtracked and stopped removing posts linking to hacked materials, unless they were being shared by the hackers or those working with them. Twitter also said it'll label tweets to provide context, rather than blocking them. The Post's story was based on emails purportedly obtained from a laptop Hunter Biden left in a Delaware computer repair shop in 2019. An article from the Post on Friday alleged that Twitter "arbitrarily cracked down" on the publication over the Biden story. The Post said it refused to delete its six tweets about the story. Source
  24. (Reuters) - Twitter Inc on Thursday widely beat analyst expectations for quarterly revenue as ad sales rose with the return of sports and other events, but it added fewer users than Wall Street had expected. The company said it expected revenue trends could continue or even improve in the current quarter, but cautioned that it was hard to predict how advertisers would react as the U.S. presidential election nears on Nov. 3, and that there could be a pause in ad spending. The San Francisco-based social media company said it had 187 million monetizable daily active users (mDAU) during the third quarter, missing consensus analyst expectations of 195.2 million users, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. The figure stood at 186 million in the previous quarter. Twitter said total revenue grew 14% year-over-year to $936 million during the quarter ended Sept. 30, beating analyst estimates of $777.15 million. The growth was helped by updated advertising formats, improved ad measurement and the return of events that had been paused due to the pandemic, said Twitter Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal in the earnings release. Advertisers are often drawn to Twitter because the platform allows them to appear next to major cultural moments or conversation topics such as sports events. Last year, Twitter suffered from technical glitches that hurt its ability to target ads, though the company has since rolled out fixes. Ad revenue in the third quarter grew 15% to $808 million from the same period a year ago, surpassing estimates of $645.95 million. Costs and expenses grew 13% from the same period last year to $880 million, as the company said it spent more on infrastructure-related expenses. Twitter noted that many companies paused ad spending during the second quarter due to widespread protests after the death of George Floyd in May and said there could be a similar dynamic with the U.S. election. Source
  25. Netflix has sent over a hundred takedown requests this week targeting tweets that are critical of the movie 'Cuties' and/or urged people to cancel their subscriptions. The takedown notices list the full tweets but only the linked media, which reportedly includes trailers, were removed. The takedowns are highly unusual as Netflix usually targets classic pirated content. Every week, Netflix sends out thousands of takedown requests, most of which target pirated copies of its movies and TV-shows. Yesterday, however, we spotted a series of copyright infringement notices with a different and rather uncomfortable theme. The streaming giant asked Twitter to remove dozens of tweets that included footage from the French coming-of-age film Cuties. This film hasn’t been without controversy and the same can be said about the takedown requests too. Cuties Controversy To provide some context, Netflix acquired the global distribution rights for Cuties and started promoting it this summer. This created quite some backlash as many people felt that the young actors had been sexualized after being filmed in all kinds of suggestive poses. We won’t go into the various viewpoints on this topic or the lawsuit Netflix faces in Texas over ‘lewd visual material.’ Opinions from both sides are readily available all over the web, including social media. For a while, the hashtags #cancelnetflix was trending and today it’s still being used. It’s clear that, weeks after the film came out, many people are still upset. Netflix Targets Cuties Tweets Netflix didn’t cancel Cuties, however, but this week it actively started to pull Cuties clips from Twitter. Not just a handful, but several dozens. Legally the company is allowed to do this of course, as they own the rights. However, it is at least a bit peculiar that the company appears to have targeted only negative tweets. The good news is that the texts of the tweets remain online. We don’t know if that is Twitter’s decision or if Netflix had a say in it. The takedown requests, which are posted on Lumen, target the full tweet URLs. Over the past day, we took a detailed look at the flagged tweets which all condemn Netflix. The language is quite harsh at times, including terms such as child exploitation, pedophilia, as well as repeated calls to cancel Netflix. TorrentFreak spoke to Amber, who had a video that was posted in her tweet removed. This wasn’t an illegally recorded clip of the film, she says, but the trailer which was widely distributed by Netflix. “Someone posted the trailer and I retweeted it and stated how I felt about the movie. I believe people have the right to be upset about the movie. If people share the trailer and say ‘go watch it’ it’s not a problem but if someone disagrees with it, it’s a problem,” she tells us. Like many others, Amber had no idea that she had done anything wrong. There was no indication that retweeting the trailer would be a problem or that she would break the law doing so. Clearly upset, she decided to delete her Twitter account. “The whole thing is just sad and shame on Netflix and Twitter for taking away people’s voices. That is how I feel,” Amber says. Author and entrepreneur Sindiso Lubisi was also affected by the takedowns. He posted some clips on Twitter to criticize the content. Today, most of the clips are removed but the accompanying tweets, with hundreds of likes and retweets, survived. Lubisi says he wasn’t contacted by Twitter or Netflix directly. In his case, Netflix has a stronger claim as he posted short clips from the film itself instead of the trailer, but fair use would still be a defense. All the targeted tweets we’ve seen are negative about Cuties. This also applies to one posted by Twitter user “llessurtap” who is 100% sure that the video he posted was just the trailer. “This is vile & 11 year old girls should NOT be using dance expression to convey sexuality. As a father it makes me want to PUKE!” he tweeted at the time, sharing the Cuties trailer. Free Speech Llessurtap received an email from Twitter informing him that the content had been removed following a request from the copyright holder. He also says that his account was temporarily locked as a result, but is now accessible again. “Is a clear violation of our First Amendment rights,” Llessurtap tells us. Whether Netflix views copies of the trailer are being shared online seems unlikely. When we searched briefly, we could easily find other trailers, albeit not in a negative context. Nonetheless, the takedown notices clearly mention copyright issues. We reached out to Netflix to hear why the company is suddenly going after Cuties clips on Twitter but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back. It’s possible that the company has a good reason, but the context in which this is happening is definitely odd. As mentioned earlier, the targeted tweets are all focused on negative Cuties responses. The easy conclusion would be that Netflix is trying to shove these under the carpet. However, there are still thousands of similar comments online, so that wouldn’t be very effective. Takedowns are Highly Unusual That said, these takedown notices are certainly out of the ordinary. Over the past month, Netflix has asked Twitter to remove (content from) roughly 300 tweets. More than half of these were sent on November 3, singling out the Cuties tweets. Another big difference is that tweets that were targeted earlier appear to target classic pirated content from accounts such as ShowsPopular, SeriesFilmy, iMeuTv, and StreamComplet2. Finally, as we hinted at before, even if Netflix is legally allowed to remove the Cuties trailers and clips from Twitter, that doesn’t make it right. It seems that the people who were targeted have a clear fair use defense. After all, people can use copyrighted clips for ‘criticism’ under some conditions, and if there’s anything beyond doubt it’s that the targeted tweets are critical. Source: TorrentFreak
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