Category Archives: Twitter Changes

Twitter Bought 18 Companies—Do You Know Why?

Twitter never stops changing, it seems.

And when they acquire a company and/or its assets or employees, you can often predict that whatever that company does will be involved in upcoming changes to Twitter.

Early changes were to improve things for users, but more recent changes have been more about business, branding and advertising enhancements. (For example, recently Twitter announced that it would be controlling ads that run through Twitter more than ever before by changes to its API use guidelines.)

Here are all the companies Twitter has ever acquired, in one graphic, from a report by JEGI (click to enlarge):

Twitter’s first purchase, Summize, was a Tweet search engine, leading to Twitter’s own search engine.

Twitter’s two purchases this week were Cabana for mobile apps, and Vine for video sharing.

Tips For Optimizing Images For Twitter’s New Header

Here is an example of our current Twitter header image, compared to the image we actually uploaded:

See how much brighter the image uploaded is than what Twitter displays? In fact, it’s strategically brightened to make the most of what Twitter does to the image.

Twitter darkens the lower portion of bright images uploaded to make the white text stand out. So you don’t want to brighten the center, lower portion of images. In fact, we darkened the middle, and lightened the lower corners (as well as brightening overall).

Of course, different types of images can withstand different treatments. Our goal was to make the image look as much like the original as possible, while allowing for darkening to make the white text stand out.

Here’s a comparison between our original image (bottom), and how it looked after we adjusted it (top) before uploading:

See how much we brightened the lower corners, but actually darkened the center slightly? (I also darkened the center part of my shirt, but failed to save the “before” look). That helped the center white text stand out, but kept the image more normal looking after Twitter darkened the whole lower half. Without the corner brightening, the image looks odd after Twitter darkens everything in the lower half.

However, darkening and lightening should be relatively subtle, or the image will start to appear a bit strange. Experiment to find the right balance.

How To Test Changes Privately

While I went ahead and changed the actual image on our account several times, what many accounts do is create a new Twitter account to test their image on, and then just delete the account, or use it for some other purpose when you’re done testing your header image uploads.

Just make sure to create only one account, as Twitter doesn’t like to see too many accounts created from the same IP address in a short period of time. (If you do need to create multiple accounts, use this tip.)

Problems to Watch Out For

Currently, images display differently on mobile devices than on, so if you want to integrate your avatar, for example, it won’t look like it fits on some mobile devices. Also, if you’re not familiar with image editors, be careful when darkening or brightening that you don’t create white areas (blow out highlights) or lose details in shadows to solid black.


Lots of Changes At Twitter In May

Twitter’s made a bunch of changes recently. Here’s their latest update on what’s happening:

New things are always happening here at Twitter HQ. We’re growing at a rapid pace, and our commitment to simplicity, transparency, and reaching every person on the planet continues. We thought you might be interested in knowing about some of our most recent developments:
  • new weekly email that delivers the most interesting news and items you might have missed from the people you’re connected to on Twitter.
  • Now Twitter is in more languages than ever. Check for your preferred language and change your setting.
  • Download the latest Twitter mobile apps at
  • There’s more to Discover on – try out the new Discover tab.
In addition, we’ve made a number of updates to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
Here are some of the main changes to our Privacy Policy, with links for more information:
  • We’ve provided more details about the information we collect and how we use it to deliver our services and to improve Twitter. One example: our new tailored suggestions feature, which is based on your recent visits to websites that integrate Twitter buttons or widgets, is an experiment that we’re beginning to roll out to some users in a number of countries. Learn more here.
  • We’ve noted the many ways you can set your preferences to limit, modify or remove the information we collect. For example, we now support the Do Not Track (DNT) browser setting, which stops the collection of information used for tailored suggestions.
  • We’ve clarified the limited circumstances in which your information may be shared with others (for example, when you’ve given us permission to do so, or when the data itself is not private or personal). Importantly, our privacy policy is not intended to limit your rights to object to a third party’s request for your information.
In our Terms of Service, we’ve clarified how your relationship with Twitter works and made a number of small changes and formatting improvements, such as new headings for easy reference and updated descriptions of our services.
Take a moment to read our new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, and thanks for using Twitter.
The Twitter Team

Twitter’s New Direction In 2012

Twitter has long had one of the greatest assets on the internet: knowing what information is hot right now. But while many companies pay to receive and search Twitter’s stream of tweets for such diverse uses as predicting the stock market and finding flu outbreaks, Twitter itself has never done much with it.

That is about to change.

With today’s purchase of Summify, and the long-lasting rumors that Twitter may purchase Flipboard from Twitter board member Mike McCue, Twitter is preparing a wholly new service for users: Finding and delivering information relevant to you in real time.

Twitter: Your Smart Assistant?

Both Summify and Flipboard use smart learning algorithms to produce collections of information personalized to you. And both have strong followings, proving that they’re onto something.

Twitter goal is likely nothing short of replacing some of the news and search resources you use now. For an example of other services besides Summify and Flipboard that Twitter may emulate to a degree think of a personalized version of Newser, LinkedInToday or NewsWhip. Or, as one report put it: “[This] Could Turn Twitter Into Your Newspaper.”

Twitter could potentially offer a personalized dashboard of information that you customize, perhaps even including email and texts to create a single page on the internet for most of your information needs. And even if Twitter doesn’t offer such a dashboard itself, they could expand their API to help other services be created that could do so.


Should Twitter Go Offline To Protest SOPA? No.

There is a scale of how important an communication method is. At the top are emergency services, which can literally save lives.

Twitter and phones are both life-saving services when used for emergency services. Because of that, neither should be taken offline for any reason.

But Twitter has other important uses in the sharing of real-time information. Many real-time reporting services, such as crime, weather and traffic reporting, are built on it. For some people in some situations, removing Twitter could have a serious negative impact, even if not life-threatening.

So taking Twitter offline should not be compared with taking Wikipedia or Reddit offline, for example. While all three allow real-time changes, Twitter is heavily relied upon for real-time emergency services, Wikipedia and Reddit much, much less so.

Not even Wikipedia’s founder thinks Twitter should go offline:

Will Twitter Pay People To Tweet, Or Won’t They?

Occasionally someone from a large organization tweets me to tell me I have tweeted misinformation.

When the Wall Street Journal reported from the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco:

 Costolo opened the door to sharing revenue with Twitter users that post interesting content on Twitter, though he said Twitter wouldn’t pay such “content producers” for each tweet they post. “Our thoughts are a little more nuanced,” he said, adding that Twitter would have a “narrow set of publishers we would do that with.” He didn’t elaborate further.

In “Twitter’s Thinking About Paying People to Tweet,” The Atlantic Wire said this about that:

The idea of paying people–pardon, content producers–to tweet isn’t completely outrageous. Various Twitter-based startups have been doing this kind of thing for a while.

But when I tweeted using the phrase “Twitter preparing to pay people to tweet” I received this complaint:

So imagine The New York Times comes to some arrangement with Twitter where they earn revenue from Twitter for being a content producer. Then one day they stop tweeting, and after a bit call Twitter to complain that they aren’t being paid any more. I can only imagine, as part of the call, that the Twitter representative would have to point out “You won’t get paid if you don’t tweet. We’re paying you to tweet.”

What Was Wrong With My Tweet?

I didn’t quote @DickC in my tweet, so Sean saying bringing that up is a bit off the mark. Is Twitter considering paying people who tweet (and not paying them if they don’t tweet) or not?

The “Twitter preparing to pay” part seems absolutely, 100% accurate, so the ” people to tweet” is likely what is at issue here. Perhaps “people” should be “content producers,” but, c’mon, we all get that a Twitter account can be handled by several people and be part of an organization.

And I didn’t say “for each tweet” or imply that. But if they don’t tweet, they won’t get paid, right?

Probably “pay people who do something we’ve established as worth paying for via their tweets” is more accurate. But I think everyone gets that you have to meet some conditions to get paid. Does anyone thing that they can tweet “123xyz” and get paid for it? So perhaps that is not clear, but I doubt there will be any confusion about that.

Maybe “some people” would have been better phrasing. Perhaps what Sean is concerned about is that I am implying that EVERYONE will be able to get paid. But some people right away began tweeting “pick me!” showing clearly that they didn’t think that just anyone would be able to get paid.

So I have left some things to be implied without stating them myself, but only things I don’t think people will be confused about.

Probably people will be disappointed that Twitter selects very few people/accounts to get paid. But in five years, I could imagine a LOT of “content producers” could get paid. Look at how YouTube has done it. They are opening up their paid program very widely, after a couple of years of testing it.

What say you, Sean? Will Twitter pay people who Tweet to Tweet?

UPDATE: Sean replied with a tweet that said “simple answer: No.

My interpretation: “Yes, but it’s complicated.”


How to give tweets an “undo” button.

Tweets can be deleted via the remove button…but many people wish they could edit them, not just delete and repost.

A true “change what you have already posted” feature wouldn’t work, because the retweet link shares exact copies of your tweet. So if there was an edit button, you could change what people retweeted any way you wanted…which might not make the people you retweeted too happy.

For example, you could say “Vote for candidate #1″ and after it had been retweeted, you could change it to say “Vote for candidate #2.” Sure, they could make the edit button good only for a few seconds, but it would wouldn’t eliminate the problem, it would just make it smaller.


Twitter could implement a “delay before posting” button, kind of like Facebook and Gmail’s feature, where you have a few seconds to correct your tweet before it gets sent. That…would be terrific! What do you think?

When Old Twitter went away


Update: On August 2, 2011, Twitter announced the end of Old Twitter:

UPDATE: On June 23—Twitter added this warning:

Will turning off the old interface cut down on spammers?

Interestingly, some third party services use browsers to access Twitter, instead of through the API. Why? Because they’re doing things Twitter doesn’t want users to do, like over-automating following and unfollowing. By doing it through a browser, and setting delays on actions (follow someone every so many seconds, for example) they are trying to trick Twitter into thinking they are human.

But new Twitter doesn’t work the same way, and I’m told not all third party software systems have figured out how to use it for following/unfollowing in order to trick Twitter into thinking they are human. So the day that the old interface is turned off, some Twitter automation software will stop working, or will have to operate less aggressively by using the API. Since spammers use Twitter automation pretty much exclusively, getting rid of the old could cut down on some of the more aggressive following and unfollowing by spammers.

When Twitter introduced the new site on September 14, 2010, they began saying that the old would go away in “several weeks.” Later they began saying that the “older version of Twitter…won’t be around much longer.”

Smart move by Twitter

Waiting to make the change seems like it was a wise move. When Twitter came out with the new interface, there were a lot of complaints. The majority of users stayed with the old interface initially. If Twitter had just forced the change onto users, there would almost certainly have been a loss of some users (and many switching to different interfaces).

Shortly before Twitter rolled out the new interface, rolled out their new interface. Within a few weeks it was clear that Digg was losing users rapidly due to the change. Twitter could have shared the same fate.

But now, more recent polls show Twitter users adapting to the new interface, with many preferring it, or switching to other interfaces. So it seems like it is about time to retire the old Twitter interface.

Twitter only pretends to give you more characters sometimes :(

UPDATE: I’ve corrected some misinformation in the original post. Thanks to @WebTrawler for pointing it out. I should have known better. Twitter long ago announced they were going to do it this way, but they changed how things displayed, and it fooled me! My apologies.

Most tweets with links will be shorter/get more characters

Most URLs will be shortened in such a way that you get more characters than 140 for what you type. But some will not, because Twitter isn’t actually counting what you see. Here’s what’s happened:

As part of Twitter’s new automatic link shortening service (on #NewTwitter), it will often remove the http:// from your links and still show the result as a clickable hyperlink. So, for example

This means that any tweet with a link tweeted from (and eventually, elsewhere) seems to save 7 characters by removing the “http://”

What really happens

But actually, Twitter does NOT count what you see. It converts all URLs to URLs even if it shows you something else. And Twitter counts the length of the URL, regardless of what is displayed!

So (19 characters) is displayed as (12 characters, appearing to save seven characters) but is counted as (20 characters) so you actually lose 1 character.

Who saves the most?

So if you’re using a non-shortened URL (such as the new URL shortening will save you a lot of characters. But if you’re already using a shortened URL, it’s going to make very little difference, and could end up costing you characters, rather than saving you characters.

Why does Twitter do this?

Twitter tests all URLs as part of converting them to links in order to try to ferret out malware. In other words, they’re doing it to protect Twitter users—which is a good thing. I would expect that many Twitter clients will also provide this shortening/protecting feature to their users eventually.

What Twitter’s new “relevance-sorted results” search looks like

Twitter search “WILL go farther and farther back” as they have time to develop it! With Twitter’s new image-sharing service (hosted by PhotoBucket) “users will own their own rights to their photos.” Read official announcement of search and photo sharing changes here.

The biggest change? You see first only “Top Tweets,” sorted by relevance plus a drop-down menu with choices to see all tweets or only tweets that contain links.