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All Is Fair in Love and Twitter

Nick Bilton, The New York Times:

One night in late February 2006, around 2 a.m., [Jack] Dorsey sat in [Noah] Glass’s parked car as rain poured down on the windshield. The two were sobering up after a night of drinking vodka and Red Bull, but the conversation, as usual, was about Odeo. Dorsey blurted out that he was planning his exit strategy. “I’m going to quit tech and become a fashion designer,” Glass recalls him saying. He also wanted to sail around the world. Glass pushed back: He couldn’t really want to leave the business entirely, could he? “Tell me what else you’re interested in,” he said. Dorsey mentioned a Web site that people could use to share their current status — the music they were listening to or where they were. Dorsey envisioned that people would use it to broadcast the simplest details about themselves — like “going to park,” “in bed” and so forth.

The Twitter genesis story you’ve never heard before. Friendships are tested, hearts are broken, and backs are stabbed. It’s like a Silicon Valley soap opera. The article is adapted from Nick Bilton’s forthcoming book, “Hatching Twitter“, set to be published next month and sure to deliver even more interesting insight and stories about one of our favourite social networks.

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Traders buy up dying ‘TWTRQ’ stock, mistaking it for Twitter

Vlad Savov, The Verge:

Twitter shares aren’t yet available for public purchase, but that didn’t halt millions of transactions in the moribund Tweeter stock, which trades under the initialism TWTRQ, close but not the same as Twitter’s upcoming TWTR ticker.

This is hilarious. Go home, stock traders. Some of you must be drunk. (I will also repeat that I think Twitter should have chosen ‘RLRT’ as their stock symbol. Missed opportunity.)

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Social Media is Destroying Our Lives

Nancy Jo Sales, Vanity Fair

This year, 81 percent of Internet-using teenagers in America reported that they are active on social-networking sites, more than ever before. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and new dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, and Blendr have increasingly become key players in social interactions, both online and IRL (in real life). Combined with unprecedented easy access to the unreal world of Internet porn, the result is a situation that has drastically affected gender roles for young people. Speaking to a variety of teenaged boys and girls across the country, Nancy Jo Sales uncovers a world where boys are taught they have the right to expect everything from social submission to outright sex from their female peers. What is this doing to America’s young women?

In a troubling, and slightly depressing must-read feature, Vanity Fair’s Nancy Jo Sales talks with groups of teenagers about social media and its affect on their lives.

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All My Exes Live in Texts

Maureen O’Connor, New York

Cutting ties is no longer so easy—nor, I guess, do we really want it to be. We gorge ourselves on information about the lives of our exes. We can’t help ourselves. There’s the ex who “likes” everything you post. The ex who appears in automated birthday reminders. The ex who appears in your OkCupid matches. The ex whose musical taste you heed on Spotify. The ex whose new girlfriend sent a friend request. The ex you follow so you know how to win him back. The ex you follow so you know how to avoid her in person. The ex you watched deteriorate after the breakup. (Are you guilty or proud?) The ex who finally took your advice, after the breakup. (Are you frustrated or proud?) The ex whose new partner is exactly like you. (Are you flattered or creeped out?) The ex whose name appears as an autocorrection in your phone. (Are you sure you don’t talk about him incessantly? Word recognition suggests otherwise.)

The first generation living with social media has come across a new issue when it comes to breaking up with a significant other — how to cut the cord. Maureen O’Connor explores how this issue, which used to have a relatively simple solution, became so complex.

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The Return of Myspace: Entertainment Meets Social… Again.

Alright, folks! Dust off your web browsers and let’s all journey back a few years, when the wide open spaces of the Internet were dominated by a well known name—Myspace. Generation Y’s old friend is coming back, sporting a fresh new look brought to you by the new king of pop, Justin Timberlake.

The long lost social network, which Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. offloaded earlier this year for $35 million, recently introduced a completely rethought and redesigned website. So far all we’ve seen is a brief video tour, while a landing page has been launched where interested users can sign up for a beta invite.

From what we’ve seen so far, the new Myspace will still be centered around music; a sort of social Spotify. The new HTML5 design looks fantastic, and is responsive to all modern browsers, tablets, and smartphones. The new design has been compared to Microsoft’s Windows 8 UI, formerly known as Metro, with a fullscreen background image reminiscent of a desktop background. Some have compared it to the Pinterest homepage, styled in a grid-like pattern devoid of clutter.

As with the current Myspace, users will be able to log in with their existing Facebook account, and connect with other services like YouTube and Twitter. By leveraging the existing user base of their largest rival, Myspace will hopefully be able to attract users to their redesigned service, if only to check it out.

In the current mobile-first landscape of social networking, Myspace must update their apps to reflect the new desktop experience. They certainly can’t afford to fall behind in today’s realm of rapid mobile adoption. It looks like Justin Timberlake and the Myspace team are taking a big gamble on this one, which very well might pay off. Instead of trying to overthrow social giants Facebook and Twitter, Myspace is trying to get back to their roots of creating a direct and intimate relationship between musicians and their listeners. Check out ABC’s interview with MySpace CEO Tim Vanderhook, entitled “There is No Point To Compete with Facebook and Twitter“, and if you’re interested, you can pre-register for the new Myspace right now. Public invites will start going out before the end of the year.

The new Myspace from Myspace on Vimeo.

Source: Myspace, Mashable, ABC, The Verge, Yahoo, TechCrunch

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Rethinking Publishing: Enter Branch

Enter Branch

Online discussion is quickly outgrowing 140 characters, and as communities become more forum based, so too must the platforms. While one group of people may begin discussing a topic on Twitter in 140 characters or less, the same group—possibly including others—may want to take that discussion further. Enter Branch. The idea of taking a conversation further is what Princeton student Josh Miller and NYU student Hursh Agrawal came up with in 2011 when they teamed up with Cemre Güngör (designer) to found a company called Roundtable. The trio bootstrapped the company from New York City for four months, eventually moving to San Francisco in January 2012 to build the product with guidance from Obvious Corp.’s Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Jason Goldman. In May, the company — now called Branch — returned to New York City and is currently a team of eight, whose product “Branch” is empowering people to talk about the world around them.
Grab From Anywhere

In a world full of Quoras and independent forums, Op-Ed sections, Twitter, Facebook, and more, Branch is seeking to build a platform with publishers in mind. Considering NPR as their inspirational background for great discussions, they realized something was missing. As The Awl’s Choire Sicha explains:

There’s a huge hole in how we have conversations online. The best thing about using Branch was that it let us bridge the gap between writers and readers. We get to bring these lively conversations into our site, instead of just “talking at” readers. Branch naturally allows members of a conversation to invite others, whether that be industry experts or any active member of a community, to take part.

According to Branch, their services are being used in articles and blog posts on sites like Nieman Lab, GigaOM, Eater, The Awl, and ReadWriteWeb. Branch allows someone to easily embed the conversation’s source code into their own blog’s CMS [content management system], and it updates in real time.

Most users discover Branch through Twitter. Naturally, many are mobile. Branch says an official mobile application is coming; it is a high priority for them, considering one out of every five users who visits is on a mobile device. In the meantime, Branch was developed their content to scale to mobile – one might add to home screen to create a web-app shortcut in lieu.

Twitter InvitationAccess is currently invite-only, but you can head over to Branch’s homepage and request an invite; it shouldn’t take long to get a response!

Source: PandoDaily, Branch

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Facebook acquires Instagram for $1 billion

Facebook has purchased popular photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion, reports All Things D’s Kara Swisher. Facebook says the deal, which will consist of a combination of cash and stock, is expected to close later this quarter.

Mark Zuckerberg announced the acquisition on his Facebook page, stating, “I’m excited to share the news that we’ve agreed to acquire Instagram and that their talented team will be joining Facebook.”

If this news has you worried about the future of Instagram, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom wrote on the company blog, “It’s important to be clear that Instagram is not going away. We’ll be working with Facebook to evolve Instagram and build the network. We’ll continue to add new features to the product and find new ways to create a better mobile photos experience.”

Mark Zuckerberg also took care to note that Instagram will not become a Facebook exclusive product. “We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook”.

For the most part, it seems that Facebook plans to leave Instagram alone – at least initially. Only time will tell what changes this deal will bring about.


Facebook to Acquire Instagram

MENLO PARK, CALIF.—April 9, 2012—Facebook announced today that it has reached an agreement to acquire Instagram, a fun, popular photo-sharing app for mobile devices.

The total consideration for San Francisco-based Instagram is approximately $1 billion in a combination of cash and shares of Facebook. The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close later this quarter.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, posted about the transaction on his Timeline:

I’m excited to share the news that we’ve agreed to acquire Instagram and that their talented team will be joining Facebook.

For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.

We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.

That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.

These and many other features are important parts of the Instagram experience and we understand that. We will try to learn from Instagram’s experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure.

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

We’re looking forward to working with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we’re going to be able to build together.

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Yahoo! Files Lawsuit Against Facebook for Patent Infringement

In what may be their craziest move yet, Yahoo brought  a lawsuit against Facebook for patent infringement, according to Kara Swisher of AllThingsD. Earlier this year, Yahoo threatened a lawsuit against the social media giant, if it did not license 10 to 20 patents relating to messaging, advertising, social networking, and the personalization of websites.

Yahoo’s statement to AllThingsD:

“Yahoo! has invested substantial resources in research and development through the years, which has resulted in numerous patented inventions of technology that other companies have licensed. These technologies are the foundation of our business that engages over 700 million monthly unique visitors and represent the spirit of innovation upon which Yahoo! is built. Unfortunately, the matter with Facebook remains unresolved and we are compelled to seek redress in federal court. We are confident that we will prevail.”

In a statement to ZDNet, Facebook said:

“We’re disappointed that Yahoo’s effort to engage with us was limited to a few short phone calls and that we continue to learn of new developments about a long-time partner through the press. We will defend ourselves vigorously against these puzzling actions.”

The full lawsuit can be read here.