Posts tagged with "Twitter"

Introducing Twitter Blue, which comes with more bells and whistles—and a subscription price

July 14, 2021

Twitter is rolling out its first-ever subscription product this week in Australia and Canada, the social media site has announced on its blog.

“We’ve heard from the people that use Twitter a lot, and we mean a lot, that we don’t always build power features that meet their needs. Well, that’s about to change,” the blog states, adding, “We took this feedback to heart, and are developing and iterating upon a solution that will give the people who use Twitter the most what they are looking for: access to exclusive features and perks that will take their experience on Twitter to the next level.”

And for those wondering, no, a free Twitter is not going away, and never will. This subscription offering is simply meant to add enhanced and complementary features to the already existing Twitter experience for those who want it.

Those who sign up for a Twitter Blue subscription will get a set of features and perks that include the following:

  • Bookmark Folders:Want an easy way to better organize your saved content? Bookmark Folders let you organize the Tweets you’ve saved by letting you manage content so when you need it, you can find it easily and efficiently.
  • Reader Mode:Reader Mode provides a more beautiful reading experience by getting rid of the noise. Twitter is making it easier for you to keep up with long threads on Twitter by turning them into easy-to-read text so you can read all the latest content seamlessly.
  • Perks: Subscribers will get access to perks, such as customizable app icons for their device’s home screen and fun color themes for their Twitter app; andwill have access to dedicated subscription customer support.

The current monthly price in Canada and Australia, respectively, is CAD $3.49 or AUD $4.49 (or about $2.75 in U.S. dollars).

Research contact: @Twitter

Fox’s News changes the climate for weather TV

July 7, 2021

Weather is taking the media industry by storm. In fact, later this year, Rupert Murdoch is set to debut Fox Weather, a 24-hour streaming channel that promises to do for seven-day forecasts what Fox has done for American politics, financial news and sports, The New York Times reports.

Not to be outdone, the Weather Channel—the granddaddy of television meteorology, broadcasting from Atlanta since 1982—has announced the creation of a new streaming service, Weather Channel Plus, that the company believes could reach 30 million subscribers by 2026.

Amid a waning appetite for political news in the post-Trump era, media executives are realizing that demand for weather updates is ubiquitous—and for an increasing swath of the country, a matter of urgent concern, the Times notes.

In the past week alone, temperatures in the Pacific Northwest broke records, wildfires burned in Colorado and Tropical Storm Elsa strengthened into a hurricane over the Atlantic Ocean.

At CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, average viewership for the first half of 2021 fell 38% from a year prior. Concurrently, the audience for the Weather Channel was up 7%.

“All the networks are ramping up for this,” Jay Sures, a co-president of United Talent Agency who oversees its TV division, told the Times, adding, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that climate change and the environment will be the story of the next decade.”

 One of his firm’s clients, Ginger Zee, the chief meteorologist at ABC News, now has 2.2 million Twitter followers — more than any ABC News personality besides George Stephanopoulos.

Fox Weather’s impending debut opens a new front in the media wars, but Byron Allen, the comedian-turned-media-baron whose Allen Media Group bought the Weather Channel for $300 million in 2018, insists that he welcomes the competition. “Rupert Murdoch is very smart; he is the best of the best,” Allen said in an interview. “I am not surprised he’s coming into the weather space. Honestly, I would have been disappointed if he didn’t.”

Allen told the Times that he and Murdoch recently met for an hour in the latter mogul’s office on the Fox lot in Los Angeles. “We had a great time together,” he recalled. “Now the world will understand how big of a business the weather business is and how important it is.” (A spokesperson for Murdoch did not comment on the meeting.)

The weather media ecosystem—from iPhone apps to localized subscription sites and umbrella-toting personalities on the local 10 o’clock news—is a lucrative, if often overlooked, corner of the industry, where the battle for attention is increasingly fierce. Advertisers weary of the choppy politics and brand boycotts of the Trump years see weather as a relatively uncontroversial port in the squall.

At Fox, Sean Hannity will not be giving a forecast (yet). But Fox Weather, which will be funded by advertisers, is aggressively poaching star meteorologists from Houston, Seattle, St. Louis and other markets. It is also taking a run at major talent at the Weather Channel, with several Hollywood agents recounting frenzied bidding wars. A top Weather Channel meteorologist—Shane Brown, whose title was “senior weather product architect”— defected to Fox last month despite efforts to keep him.

The Weather Channel already is throwing some shade.

“They couldn’t even get a headline right about Tropical Storm Bill,” said Nora Zimmett, the network’s chief content officer, referring to a FoxNews.com article that some meteorologists criticized because it claimed that a relatively benign storm posed a “massive” risk to the Eastern Seaboard.

“I applaud Fox getting into the weather space, but they should certainly leave the lifesaving information to the experts,” said Zimmett, who worked at Fox News in the 2000s. She called climate change “a topic that is too important to politicize, and if they do that, they will be doing Americans a disservice.”

A Fox Weather spokeswoman shot back: “While the Weather Channel is focused on trolling FoxNews.com for unrelated stories, Fox Weather is busy preparing the debut of our innovative platform to deliver critical coverage to an incredibly underserved market.”

Research contact: @nytimes

USPS honors Yankees legend Yogi Berra with ‘Forever’ stamp

June 25, 2021

If he were here today, he would have repeated one of his most famous lines: “I want to thank everybody for making this day necessary.”

 The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp honoring the inimitable Yankees catcher Yogi Berra on June 24. This Forever stamp was dedicated during a ceremony at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center in Little Falls, New Jersey, and is now being sold at Post Office locations nationwide and online at usps.com/yogiberrastamp.

News about the stamp is being shared on social media using the hashtags,  #YogiBerraStamp and #BaseballStamps.

“We hope this stamp will serve as a reminder of Yogi’s larger than life personality — both on and off the field,” said Ron A. Bloom, chairman, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors. Bloom was joined for the ceremony by  Emmy Award-winning sportscaster Bob Costas; and Larry, Tim and Dale Berra, sons of Yogi Berra. The ceremony can be viewed on the Postal Service Facebook and Twitter pages.

“The Berra family wishes to thank the U.S. Postal Service for honoring our father with a Forever stamp for his prowess as a baseball icon who demonstrated the right way to earn the respect of family, friends, competitors and people everywhere,” the family said in a statement.

Research contact: @USPS

Why is DOJ still defending Trump in E. Jean Carroll lawsuit?

June 10, 2021

The Biden Justice Department is forging ahead with a controversial legal effort started under former President Donald Trump to intervene on Trump’s behalf in a defamation lawsuit brought against him by a writer who says Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s, NPR reports. But the question remains, why?

E. Jean Carroll leveled the accusations against Trump in her memoir published in Jean Carroll leveled the accusations against Trump in her memoir published in 2019. Trump denied the allegations and accused Carroll of lying to sell books.

Carroll sued the then-president for defamation, but the suit has been caught up in litigation since the Trump-era Justice Department attempted to step in on Trump’s behalf and make the government the defendant instead of the now-former president.

In its filing late Monday, the Justice Department—now led by Attorney General Merrick Garland under the Biden Administration—sought to continue its defense of Trump while distancing itself from his alleged actions.

“Then-President Trump’s response to Ms. Carroll’s serious allegations of sexual assault included statements that questioned her credibility in terms that were crude and disrespectful,” Brian Boynton, the acting head of the department’s Civil Divisionwrote in the brief. “But this case does not concern whether Mr. Trump’s response was appropriate. Nor does it turn on the truthfulness of Ms. Carroll’s allegations.”

Instead, Boynton said, it boils down to a few legal questions, including whether a president is an “employee of the government” and whether Trump’s denials were made within the scope of his office. The department said the answer to both questions is yes, and therefore under federal law it said the government should be able to replace Trump as defendant in the case.

If the department were to succeed in its efforts, legal experts said the move would effectively end the case because the federal government can’t be sued for defamation.

According to NPR, Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, slammed the Justice Department’s decision to continue the Trump-era effort to intervene.

“The DOJ’s position is not only legally wrong, it is morally wrong since it would give federal officials free license to cover up private sexual misconduct by publicly brutalizing any woman who has the courage to come forward,” she said on Twitter.

“Calling a woman you sexually assaulted a ‘liar,’ a ‘slut,’ or ‘not my type’—as Donald Trump did here—is NOT the official act of an American president.”

The new filing is the latest development in the case since the Trump-era Justice Department first took the unusual step of seeking to intervene in the lawsuit last year.

The Justice Department and then-Attorney General William Barr came under fierce criticism for the move, which opponents argued was one in a series of actions the department took under Barr that benefited Trump or his friends.

A federal judge in October denied the Justice Department’s initial attempt to step in on Trump’s behalf. Trump appealed the decision to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, where the matter now stands.

Research contact: @NPR

AMC courts individual investors with free popcorn

June 3, 2021

Meme stock AMC has long since passed the point where individual investors outnumber institutional ones—and now it’s opening a dialogue with those owners directly, Fortune magazine reports.

The term, “meme stock,” refers to investments that have become sought after by retail investors trading on apps such as Robinhood. Trading in meme stocks is mainly driven by the fear of missing out (FOMO). Traders ignore the fundamentals and focus on the potential.

The theater chain on Wednesday announced AMC Investor Connect— a program that will offer investors ve some perks (and, more importantly, get people back into theaters). Up first: A free large tub of popcorn.

“During my five-plus year tenure as CEO at AMC, I’ve taken great pride in the relationships I have forged with AMC’s owners,” said Adam Aron, president and CEO of AMC in a statement. “With AMC Investor Connect, that effort in relationship-building will continue apace, even if our shareholders now number in the millions. After all, these people are the owners of AMC, and I work for them.”

Indeed, Fortune reports, people who sign up for AMC Investor Connect will receive everything from free and discounted items to invitations to special screenings to direct communications from Aron.

But the company isn’t exactly insisting on proof of ownership. Signing up for the program is done simply by checking a checkbox on the signup page. (You’ll also have to be a member of AMC’s loyalty program, called AMC Stubs.)

The program was warmly welcomed on Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets community, which is where a lot of the AMC enthusiasm is generated.

“This is a ceo who understands. I love it!,” exclaimed JurassicPark-fan-190, while Hard2Digest used the program to further pump the stock, saying “[Aron] is giving away FREE large popcorn. The LEAST you apes can do today is buy 1 more share. Just one share. 3.2million apes, let’s keep pushing.”

Twitter was just as enamored with the announcement.

AMC said over 3.2 million individual investors held an ownership stake in the company as of March 11. That number has certainly gone up since then. The theater chain is now more than 80% owned by individual investors.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Not so authentic? Meghan Markle is accused of plagiarizing her children’s book

May 6, 2021

Meghan Markle has been accused of stealing her children’s book, “The Bench” from a British author’s 2018 work, The Sun (UK) reports.

The Duchess of Sussex penned the book—scheduled to be released in the United States on June 8 by Random House Books for Young Readers— after originally writing a poem for Harry’s first Father’s Day with their son Archie, who will turn two next month.

But critics have pointed out that it bears  some close similarities to “The Boy and The Bench”—published by Farshore in September 20018 and written by Corrinne Averiss and Gabriel Alborozo.

Not only do both books feature a colorful cover illustration of a bench under a tree surrounded by birds—but one illustration by award-winning artist Christian Robinson in Meghan’s book shows a dad with his baby boy dozing on a lounge chair outside.The text says: “From here you will rest, see the growth of our boy.”

Some have claimed the image is similar to one in “The Boy and the Bench,” which features a birds-eye view of a dad and son on a bench, The Sun notes.

“Before you run out and waste money on the book by Harry’s wife, read ‘The Boy on the Bench’ by Corrinne Averiss and Gabriel Alborozo … The original,” one Twitter user wrote of the apparent likeness, according to a report by The New York Post’s Page Six.

Dozens of others soon complained on Twitter that the Duchess of Sussex’s book, “The Bench,” didn’t only share a similar title to UK author Averiss’ 2018 book — but also similar artwork from Christian Robinson.

One online critic, Emma Kaye Wootton, even suggested that the book was “blatantly plagiarized” and that Markle’s work should be “boycotted.”

Another British reader said, “This woman is incapable of an original thought. “The Boy on the Bench” is a story about the love between a father and son, and describes how the boy learns to socialize confidently. I hope that Corrine Averiss considers legal action.”

Yet another, “British born & bred @Dianne Zecher,” commented, “I find it quite a coincidence that someone else named Corrine Averiss wrote a book called “The Boyon the Bench” in 2018 about a young boy & his father. Surely the duchess wouldn’t have accidently [sic] lifted someone else’s work, tweaked it, & served it up to be published?”

The hubbub comes after Markle was accused in July 2019 by the authors of a book to which she contributed of ripping off the design of her “British Vogue” cover.

At the time Cosmopolitan magazine noted, “Apparently, Meghan ‘helped produce’ (read: wrote an essay for) “The Game Changers” by Samantha Brett and Steph Adams about three years before guest editing Vogue’s Force of Change issue—and it also uses a grid cover with black-and-white photos.”

Meghan, herself, has said: “The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born. That poem became this story. Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolor illustrations that capture the warmth, joy and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life. This representation was particularly important to me and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens.

“My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the make up, as much as it does with me.”

But, The Sun notes, royal experts have pointed out it comes at a time when Meghan and Harry’s relationships with their own fathers could not be more strained.

Meghan has not spoken to her father Thomas, 76, for three years and even embroiled him in a High Court privacy case.

Meanwhile Harry, 36, accused his father Prince Charles of being trapped in the Royal ­Family and told Oprah Winfrey in their interview that his family had cut him off financially.

A press release that accompanies the announcement describes it as a story that “touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between fathers and sons and reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family.”

Meanwhile, the author of the 2018 book, Corrine Averiss, refuses to become involved in the ruckus—denying that she sees any similarities.

Research contact: @TheSun

Twitter acquires Scroll, an ad-free news reader

May 5, 2021

Twitter  has announced the acquisition of Scroll, an ad-free news product—and word is that the social media giant expects to pull the service into a new subscription offering being planned, Ad Age reports.

To date, the app, which launched in January 2020, has offered subscribers the opportunity to get ad-free access to hundreds of websites, for $5 per month.

Scroll works with a handful of publishers—among them, Vox Media, BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, The Atlantic, and USA Today—and offers stories from those publishers to paying customers. It does not block ads; rather, it works with its expanding group of publishers to take the ads down in exchange for a slice of the subscription fee.

Scroll keeps 30% of the subscription fee and distributes the other 70% to the participating sites, based on which articles users view.

Scroll will temporarily halt new subscribers while its 13-person team joins the social media company, Twitter said on May 4 in a blog post. Deal terms weren’t disclosed. Scroll, which has offices in New York City and Portland, is backed by investors including Union Square Ventures.

Twitter has spoken publicly about its interest in selling a subscription product, and is considering a number of options. The San Francisco-based company also recently acquired Revue, a newsletter startup, with plans to make money from subscriptions. Twitter envisions the two products working together, and says users may one day pay to read newsletters or stories from certain publishers directly on Twitter without any ads.

“For every other platform, journalism is dispensable,” wrote Scroll CEO Tony Haile in a blog post. “If journalism were to disappear tomorrow their business would carry on much as before. Twitter is the only large platform whose success is deeply intertwined with a sustainable journalism ecosystem.”

The social media company is looking for ways to expand business outside of digital advertising, which makes up the bulk of revenue. Advertising can be inconsistent and Twitter said last week that ad sales got off to a slow start in 2021 thanks in part to civil unrest in the United States and delayed public events, like Hollywood’s Academy Awards presentation. A subscription business would offer a more steady and predictable revenue stream. Scroll is Twitter’s sixth deal in the past six months.

Research contact: @adage

Have you seen Darius? Giant celebrity rabbit is missing

April 26, 2021

If police in Worcestershire, England, could “pull a rabbit out a hat,” they would: Darius—rabbit with long floppy ears who measures a record-breaking 4 feet long—has gone missing. He last was seen in his rabbit hutch in on the property of owner, breeder, and bunny aficionado, Annette Edwards.

Police said they were hunting one of the world’s largest rabbits, if not the largest, which went missing  on the night of April 10, NBC News reports.

“We are appealing for information following the theft of an award-winning rabbit from its home in Stoulton, Worcestershire,” West Mercia Police said in statement on Monday, April 12. “The rabbit is quite unique in the fact it is four feet in size.”

Darius, who became a 2010 Guinness world record holder for his huge length, was stolen from a garden enclosure in central England.

His owner, Annette Edwards, wrote on Twitter that police were working hard to find her prize-winning pet—and that she had offered a reward of £1,000 (US$1,400) for his safe return.

“A very sad day,” she said. “Darius is too old to breed now. So please bring him back.”

Edwards in an interview with the TODAY show in 2010 said her massive pet—a Continental Giant rabbit—was friendly, had a huge appetite, and enjoyed lazing around on furniture.

The pair used to tour the country together with owner Edwards donning a Jessica Rabbit style outfit to show off gigantic Darius.

At the time, she said the celebrity bunny was insured for $1.6 million, had an agent, and traveled with a bodyguard.

Darius’ disappearance comes amid a spike in pet theft in England during the coronavirus pandemic. The charity DogLost said it saw reports of thefts rise by 170% in the last year—from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 in 2020.

Pet detective Jacob Lloyd, head of investigations at Animal Protection Services, which prosecutes US1,000) to £3,500 (US$5,000) in the last year.

“It’s completely disproportionate to what we would normally see,” Lloyd said. “Opportunists and organized criminals have taken advantage in the rise of prices, and dog and other animal thefts have gone up.”

With people in England locked down for much of the year, Lloyd said the need for “companionship” while spending more time at home had led to the surge in demand.

In Darius’ high-profile case, a potential “ulterior motive” could also be at stake, pet detective Lloyd added—likely the work of organized criminals who knew his value.

The U.K.’s Policing Minister Kit Malthouse called animal theft a “vile crime,” in a statement earlier this year. “Let me be clear — pet theft is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment and it must be confronted wherever it occurs,” he added.

Singer Lady Gaga’s two pet dogs, Koji and Gustav, made global headlines when they were briefly stolen and returned in February, amid her public pleas and a $500,000 reward. Her French bulldogs were taken in a violent robbery in Hollywood, in which the singer’s 30-year-old dog walker was shot and sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Here’s how to find out whether your Facebook data has been filched

April 6, 2021

Last weekend, cybersecurity experts revealed that about half a billion Facebook users’ personal information had been breached— a treasure trove of data the includes full names, birthdays, and phone numbers, CNN reports.

Facebook said that the massive hack stems from an issue in 2019, which has since been fixed. Still, there’s no clawing back that data. More than 30 million U.S. accounts were affected– and, CNN notes, the social media company isn’t making it easy to find out if your data was included in the breach.

But a third-party website, haveibeenpwned.com, has come to the rescue: It makes it simple to check whether your feed has been breached by inputting your email. For now, it just checks if your email was among those stolen.

That’s a pretty big catch: Although 533 million Facebook accounts were included in the breach, only 2.5 million of those included emails in the stolen data. So you’ve got less than a half-percent chance of showing up on that website, even though you’ve got about a 20% chance of being hacked if you’ve got a Facebook account. (This author was among those hacked.)

HaveIBeenPwned creator and security expert Troy Hunt said on Twitter that he’s examining whether to add phone numbers.

“The primary value of the data is the association of phone numbers to identities; whilst each record included a phone number, only 2.5 million contained an email address,” Hunt’s website said.

Although this data is from 2019, it could still be of value to hackers and cyber criminals like those who engage in identify theft.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to CNN on Monday about whether if it will create a way to see if their information was leaked.

Research contact: @CNN

For young ‘influencers,’ Instagram is exploring a version of the app for kids under 13

March 22, 2021

In a move certain to generate controversy, Instagram is developing a version of its popular photo-sharing app for users 13 and under, MarketWatch reports.

BuzzFeed News first reported on the project on March 18, and it was later confirmed by an Instagram executive.

To date, Instagram’s policy has not allowed users under 13 on the site. Instagram is owned by Facebook, which also has a minimum age of 13. However, despite these restrictions, a number of children under 13 already have surreptitious accounts on both sites.

Citing postings from an internal message board at Instagram, BuzzFeed reported the new app would be developed by Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri and Pavni Diwanji, a Facebook executive who previously oversaw children-focused products, including YouTube Kids, while working at Alphabet’s Google.

In a tweet Thursday, posted after the BuzzFeed report was published, Mosseri said: “Kids are increasingly asking their parents if they can join apps that help them keep up with their friends. A version of Instagram where parents have control, like we did w/ Messenger Kids, is something we’re exploring. We’ll share more down the road.”

Messenger Kids is a Facebook app on which parents can control whom their choose to communicate with. However, a bug was found in 2019 that allowed kids to communicate with not just their friends, but with friends of friends—including adults—whom their own parents had not vetted.

In a message-board post, Instagram said its kids version would emphasize privacy and safety, according to the BuzzFeed report.

Separately, MarketWatch notes, on Wednesday. March 17, Instagram announced new features and resources for its teen users and their parents, in an effort to protect users from abuse, bullying, and predators.

“Protecting young people on Instagram is important to us,” the company said in a blog post. “We want parents to have the information to help their teens have a safe and positive experience on Instagram.”

If launched, the app could face legal issues regarding children’s privacy and targeted advertising—and would likely spark heavy criticism from youth advocates on issues including harassment, sexting and mental health.

One Twitter user replied to Mosseri’s tweet: “We don’t just give stuff to kids because they WANT it. We don’t give kids dangerous tools to play with when grownups haven’t figured out how to make those tools safe.”

Research contact: @MarketWatch