Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Joseph Cerniglia, a chef who had appeared on Gordon Ramsay’s television show Kitchen Nightmares, has commited suicide. Cerniglia was the owner of Italian restaurant Campania. He jumped off a bridge into the Hudson river on the New York–New Jersey border. At the time of filming in 2007, Cerniglia owed suppliers $80,000.
Officials reported that 39-year-old Cerniglia had jumped off of the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson. His death has officially been ruled as suicide. His body was retrieved from the river after reports of a man jumping off of the bridge.
Ramsay released a statement to the Press Association saying “I was fortunate to spend time with Joe during the first season of Kitchen Nightmares. Joe was a brilliant chef, and our thoughts go out to his family, friends and staff.”
Cerniglia told Ramsay about his personal debt when he came to the restaurant in 2007. He said “I am financially in trouble. The debt of the restaurant alone is overwhelming. My personal debt — wife, kids, mortgage — that’s a lot of debt”.
By Allen Gelbl
The enlargement of the prostate is a regular event for many men over the age of 50. As a man ages, the risk increases. While some men are more susceptible than others, it is still a very painful condition, which if left untreated can cause permanent damage. New medications are being approved on a constant basis in order to help treat an enlarged prostate. There are also alternative methods and surgical procedures.
If the enlargement is not severe, doctors will normally suggest medicines first, or an alternative treatment, without considering the use of surgery. Prescription medication to help improve the urine flow is usually prescribed to men with an enlarged prostate. These are also called alpha-blockers, and they act by relaxing the bladder. Some of the commercial brands have been found to cause eye disorders and are not recommended for men who are planning eye surgery or have undergone eye surgery.
Another popular medicine is Finasteride, also called Proscar. The drug has been found effective in shrinking the prostate. This type of treatment is only used if the condition is not severe. While this medication is slightly controversial, it has been proven to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. However, it has also been proven to accelerate the growth of tumors in men who have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Most medications will come with the normal side effects, such as nausea or dizziness. In order to avoid this, it is recommended that you take medications with food. When taking medication, you should also be careful about the other substances that you intake. Alcohol should be limited, as well as caffeine. You should only use herbal supplements with the approval from your doctor. While this might be explanatory, over-the-counter medications can cause certain reactions, especially decongestants and antihistamines. The reason is the fact that these medications might affect the muscle control of the bladder.
Herbal remedies are often tried by men if they are trying to avoid the visit to the doctor. The only problem is that the remedies are not required to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This means that they are not required to go through testing in order to make sure that the remedies are safe for patients to use. This also means that the side effects of these remedies are not always understood or reported, and no one knows what the consequences of taking the remedies will be at a later time.
If you are not able to make it to the physician right away, there are several things that you can do at home to help take some of the pain or pressure from your bladder. One tip is to drink a less amount of fluids after 7 or 8PM. This will minimize the trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Cutting down on your alcohol consumption as well as caffeine is a good start as well, especially since you will be recommended to do this after you visit the doctor. As always, exercising regularly will help your condition as well.
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The 7 July 2005 London bombings (often referred to as 7/7) were a series of coordinated suicide attacks in central London, which targeted civilians using the public transport system during the morning rush hour.
On the morning of Thursday, 7 July 2005, four British Islamist men detonated four bombs—three in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and, later, a fourth on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. As well as the four bombers, 52 civilians were killed and over 700 more were injured in the attacks, the United Kingdom’s worst terrorist incident since the 1988 Lockerbie bombing as well as the country’s first ever suicide attack.
The explosions were caused by homemade organic peroxide–based devices packed into rucksacks. The bombings were followed two weeks later by a series of attempted attacks which failed to cause injury or damage.
The 7 July attacks occurred the day after London had won its bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games, which had highlighted the city’s multicultural reputation.
At 8:50 am, three bombs were detonated on board London Underground trains within fifty seconds of each other:
It was originally thought that there had been six, rather than three, explosions on the Underground network. The bus bombing brought the reported total to seven; this was clarified later in the day. The erroneous reporting can be attributed to the fact that the blasts occurred on trains that were between stations, causing wounded passengers to emerge from both stations, giving the impression that there was an incident at each. Police also revised the timings of the tube blasts: initial reports had indicated that they occurred during a period of almost half an hour. This was due to initial confusion at London Underground (LU), where the explosions were originally believed to have been caused by power surges. An early report, made in the minutes after the explosions, involved a person under a train, while another described a derailment (both of which did occur, but only as a result of the explosions). A code amber alert was declared by LU at 09:19, and LU began to cease the network’s operations, ordering trains to continue only to the next station and suspending all services.
The effects of the bombs are understood to have varied due to the differing characteristics of the tunnels in which they occurred:
Almost one hour after the attacks on the London Underground, a fourth bomb was detonated on the top deck of a number 30 double-decker bus, a Dennis Trident 2 (fleet number 17758, registration LX03 BUF, two years in service at the time) operated by Stagecoach London and travelling its route from Marble Arch to Hackney Wick.
Earlier, the bus had passed through the King’s Cross area as it travelled from Hackney Wick to Marble Arch. At its final destination, the bus turned around and started the return route to Hackney Wick. It left Marble Arch at 9 am and arrived at Euston bus station at 9:35 am, where crowds of people had been evacuated from the tube and were boarding buses.
The explosion at 9:47 am in Tavistock Square ripped off the roof and destroyed the rear portion of the bus. The blast took place near BMA House, the headquarters of the British Medical Association, on Upper Woburn Place. A number of doctors and medical staff in or near that building were able to provide immediate emergency assistance.
Witnesses reported seeing “half a bus flying through the air”. BBC Radio 5 Live and The Sun later reported that two injured bus passengers said that they saw a man exploding in the bus.
The location of the bomb inside the bus meant the front of the vehicle remained mostly intact. Most of the passengers at the front of the top deck survived, as did those near the front of the lower deck, including the driver, but those at the rear of the bus suffered more serious injuries. The extent of the damage caused to the victims’ bodies resulted in a lengthy delay in announcing the death toll from the bombing while police determined how many bodies were present and whether the bomber was one of them. Several passers-by were also injured by the explosion and surrounding buildings were damaged by debris.
The bombed bus was subsequently covered with tarpaulin and removed by low-loader for forensic examination at a secure Ministry of Defence site. The vehicle was ultimately returned to Stagecoach and scrapped thereafter on 15 October 2009. A replacement bus, a new Alexander Dennis Enviro400 (fleet number 18500, which has been changed since to 19000, registration LX55 HGC), was named “Spirit of London”. In October 2012 the “Spirit of London” bus was set alight in an arson attack. It was repaired and refurbished at a cost of £60,000 and re-entered service in April 2013. Two fourteen year old girls were charged for the attack.
All but one of the 52 victims had been residents in London during the attacks and were from a diverse range of backgrounds. Among those killed were several foreign-born British nationals, foreign exchange students, parents, and one British couple of 14 years. Due to train delays before the attacks, as well as subsequent transport issues caused by them, several victims died aboard trains and buses they would not normally have taken. Their ages ranged from 20 to 60 years old.
The four suicide bombers were later identified and named as:
Three of the bombers were British-born sons of Pakistani immigrants; Lindsay was a convert born in Jamaica.
Charles Clarke, Home Secretary when the attacks occurred, described the bombers as “cleanskins”, a term describing them as previously unknown to authorities until they carried out their attacks. On the day of the attacks, all four had travelled to Luton, Bedfordshire, by car, then to London by train. They were recorded on CCTV arriving at King’s Cross station at about 08:30 am.
On 12 July 2005, the BBC reported that the Metropolitan Police Service’s anti-terrorism chief Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke had said that property belonging to one of the bombers had been found at both the Aldgate and Edgware Road blasts.
Two of the bombers made videotapes describing their reasons for becoming what they called “soldiers”. In a videotape broadcast by Al Jazeera on 1 September 2005, Mohammad Sidique Khan, described his motivation. The tape had been edited and also featured al-Qaeda member—and future leader—Ayman al-Zawahiri:
A second part of the tape continues
On 6 July 2006, a videotaped statement by Shehzad Tanweer was broadcast by Al-Jazeera. In the video, which may have been edited to include remarks by al-Zawahiri who appeared in Khan’s video, Tanweer said:
Tanweer argued that the non-Muslims of Britain deserve such attacks because they voted for a government which “continues to oppress our mothers, children, brothers and sisters in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and Chechnya.”
Initial reports suggested that a power surge on the Underground power grid had caused explosions in power circuits. This was later ruled out by power suppliers National Grid. Commentators suggested that the explanation had been made because of bomb damage to power lines along the tracks; the rapid series of power failures caused by the explosions (or power being ended by means of switches at the locations to permit evacuation) looked similar, from the point of view of a control room operator, to a cascading series of circuit breaker operations that would result from a major power surge. A couple of hours after the bombings, Home Secretary Charles Clarke confirmed the incidents were terrorist attacks.
Although there were security alerts at many locations throughout the United Kingdom, no other terrorist incidents occurred outside central London. Suspicious packages were destroyed in controlled explosions in Edinburgh, Brighton, Coventry, Southampton, Portsmouth, Darlington and Nottingham. Security across the country was increased to the highest alert level.
The Times reported on 17 July 2005 that police sniper units were following as many as a dozen al-Qaeda suspects in Britain. The covert armed teams were ordered to shoot to kill if surveillance suggested that a terror suspect was carrying a bomb and he refused to surrender if challenged. A member of the Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Firearms Command said: “These units are trained to deal with any eventuality. Since the London bombs they have been deployed to look at certain people.”
Vodafone reported that its mobile telephone network reached capacity at about 10am on the day of the bombings, and it was forced to initiate emergency procedures to prioritise emergency calls (ACCOLC, the ‘access overload control’). Other mobile phone networks also reported failures. The BBC speculated that the telephone system was shut down by security services to prevent the possibility of mobile phones being used to trigger bombs. Although this option was considered, it became clear later that the intermittent unavailability of both mobile and landline telephone systems was due only to excessive usage. ACCOLC was activated only in a 1 km (0.6 mi) radius around Aldgate Tube Station because key emergency personnel did not have ACCOLC-enabled mobile phones. The communications failures during the emergency sparked discussions to improve London’s emergency communications system.
For most of the day, central London’s public transport system was largely out of service following the complete closure of the Underground, the closure of the Zone 1 bus network, and the evacuation of incident sites such as Russell Square. Bus services restarted at 4pm on 7 July, and most mainline railway stations resumed service soon afterward. River vessels were pressed into service to provide a free alternative to overcrowded trains and buses. Local lifeboats were required to act as safety boats, including the Sheerness lifeboat from the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. Thousands of people chose to walk home or to the nearest Zone 2 bus or railway station. Most of the Underground, apart from the stations affected by the bombs, resumed service the next morning, though some commuters chose to stay at home.
Much of King’s Cross railway station was also closed, with the ticket hall and waiting area being used as a makeshift hospital to treat casualties. Although the station reopened later during the day, only suburban rail services were able to use it, with Great North Eastern Railway trains terminating at Peterborough (the service was fully restored on 9 July). King’s Cross St. Pancras tube station remained available only to Metropolitan line services to facilitate the ongoing recovery and investigation for a week, though Victoria line services were restored on 15 July and the Northern line on 18 July. St. Pancras station, located next to King’s Cross, was shut on the afternoon of the attacks, with all Midland Mainline trains terminating at Leicester, causing disruption to services to Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby.
By 25 July there were still disruptions to the Piccadilly line (which was not running between Arnos Grove and Hyde Park Corner in either direction), the Hammersmith & City line (which was only running a shuttle service between Hammersmith and Paddington) and the Circle line (which was suspended in its entirety). The Metropolitan line resumed services between Moorgate and Aldgate on 25 July. The Hammersmith & City line was also operating a peak-hours service between Whitechapel and Baker Street. Most of the remainder of the Underground network was however operating normally.
On 2 August the Hammersmith & City line resumed normal service; the Circle line was still suspended, though all Circle line stations are also served by other lines. The Piccadilly line service resumed on 4 August.
There were limited reactions to the attack in the world economy as measured by financial market and exchange rate activity. The value of the British pound decreased 0.89 cents to a 19-month low against the US dollar. The FTSE 100 Index fell by about 200 points during the two hours after the first attack. This was its greatest decrease since the invasion of Iraq, and it triggered the London Stock Exchange’s ‘Special Measures’, restricting panic selling and aimed at ensuring market stability. By the time the market closed it had recovered to only 71.3 points (1.36%) down on the previous day’s three-year closing high. Markets in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain also closed about 1% down on the day.
US market indexes increased slightly, partly because the dollar index increased sharply against the pound and the euro. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 31.61 to 10,302.29. The NASDAQ Composite Index increased 7.01 to 2075.66. The S&P 500 increased 2.93 points to 1197.87 after decreasing as much as 1%. Every benchmark value gained 0.3%.
The market values increased again on 8 July as it became clear that the damage caused by the bombings was not as great as thought initially. By end of trading the market had recovered fully to above its level at start of trading on 7 July. Insurers in the UK tend to reinsure their terrorist liabilities in excess of the first £75,000,000 with Pool Re, a mutual insurer established by the government with major insurers. Pool Re has substantial reserves and newspaper reports indicated that claims would easily be funded.
On 9 July, the Bank of England, HM Treasury and the Financial Services Authority revealed that they had instigated contingency plans immediately after the attacks to ensure that the UK financial markets could keep trading. This involved the activation of a “secret chatroom” on the British government’s Financial Sector Continuity website, which allowed the institutions to communicate with the country’s banks and market dealers.
Continuous news coverage of the attacks was broadcast throughout 7 July, by both BBC One and ITV1, uninterrupted until 7 p.m. Sky News did not broadcast any advertisements for 24 hours. ITN confirmed later that its coverage on ITV1 was its longest uninterrupted on-air broadcast of its 50-year history. Television coverage was notable for the use of mobile telephone footage sent in by members of the public and live pictures from traffic CCTV cameras.
The BBC Online website recorded an all-time bandwidth peak of 11 Gb/s at midday on 7 July. BBC News received some 1 billion total accesses throughout the course of the day (including all images, text and HTML), serving some 5.5 terabytes of data. At peak times during the day there were 40,000-page requests per second for the BBC News website. The previous day’s announcement of the 2012 Summer Olympics being awarded to London resulted in up to 5 Gb/s. The previous all time maximum for the website followed the announcement of the Michael Jackson verdict, which used 7.2 Gb/s.
On 12 July it was reported that the British National Party released leaflets showing images of the ‘No. 30 bus’ after it was destroyed. The slogan, “Maybe now it’s time to start listening to the BNP” was printed beside the photo. Home Secretary Charles Clarke described it as an attempt by the BNP to “cynically exploit the current tragic events in London to further their spread of hatred”.
Some media outside the UK complained that successive British governments had been unduly tolerant towards radical Islamist militants, so long as they were involved in activities outside the UK. Britain’s reluctance to extradite or prosecute terrorist suspects resulted in London being dubbed Londonistan.
Even before the identity of the bombers became known, former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Stevens said he believed they were almost certainly born or based in Britain, and would not “fit the caricature al-Qaeda fanatic from some backward village in Algeria or Afghanistan”. The attacks would have required extensive preparation and prior reconnaissance efforts, and a familiarity with bomb-making and the London transport network as well as access to significant amounts of bomb-making equipment and chemicals.
Some newspaper editorials in Iran blamed the bombing on British or American authorities seeking to further justify the War on Terror, and claimed that the plan that included the bombings also involved increasing harassment of Muslims in Europe.
On 13 August 2005, quoting police and MI5 sources, The Independent reported that the bombers acted independently of an al-Qaeda terror mastermind some place abroad.
On 1 September it was reported that al-Qaeda officially claimed responsibility for the attacks in a videotape broadcast by the Arab television network Al Jazeera. However, an official inquiry by the British government reported that the tape claiming responsibility had been edited after the attacks, and that the bombers did not have direct assistance from al-Qaeda. Zabi uk-Taifi, an al-Qaeda commander arrested in Pakistan in January 2009, may have had connections to the bombings, according to Pakistani intelligence sources. More recently, documents found by German authorities on a terrorist suspect arrested in Berlin in May 2011 have suggested that Rashid Rauf, a British al Qaeda operative, played a key role in planning the attacks.
A second claim of responsibility was posted on the Internet by another al-Qaeda-linked group, Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades. The group had, however, previously falsely claimed responsibility for events that were the result of technical problems, such as the 2003 London blackout and the US Northeast blackout of 2003.
A survey of 500 British Muslims undertaken by Channel 4 News found that 24% believed the four bombers blamed for the attacks did not perform them. In 2006, the government had refused to hold a public inquiry, stating that “it would be a ludicrous diversion”. Prime Minister Tony Blair said an independent inquiry would “undermine support” for MI5, while the leader of the opposition, David Cameron, said only a full inquiry would “get to the truth”. In reaction to revelations about the extent of security service investigations into the bombers prior to the attack, the Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, said: “It is becoming more and more clear that the story presented to the public and Parliament is at odds with the facts.” However, the decision against an independent public inquest was later reversed. A full public inquest into the bombings was subsequently begun from October 2010. Coroner Lady Justice Hallett stated that the inquest would examine how each victim died and whether MI5, if it had worked better, could have prevented the attack.
There have been various conspiracy theories proposed about the bombings, including the suggestion that the bombers were ‘patsies’, based on claims about timings of the trains and the train from Luton, supposed explosions underneath the carriages, and allegations of the faking of the one time-stamped and dated photograph of the bombers at Luton station. Claims made by one theorist in the Internet video 7/7 Ripple Effect were examined by the BBC documentary series The Conspiracy Files, in an episode titled “7/7” first broadcast on 30 June 2009, which debunked many of the video’s claims.
On the day of the bombings Peter Power of Visor Consultants gave interviews on BBC Radio 5 Live and ITV saying that he was working on a crisis management simulation drill, in the City of London, “based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning”, when he heard that an attack was going on in real life. He described this as a coincidence. He also gave an interview to the Manchester Evening News where he spoke of “an exercise involving mock broadcasts when it happened for real”. After a few days he dismissed it as a “spooky coincidence” on Canadian TV.
Alexander Litvinenko claimed that Vladimir Putin was the “originator” of the bombings, and added, “And I am sure, that there will be no prosecutions of Moslems after the event.” 
Initially, there was much confused information from police sources as to the origin, method, and even timings of the explosions. Forensic examiners had thought initially that military-grade plastic explosives were used, though they were later determined to be composed of high-concentration organic peroxide, which detonates similarly to TNT, and, as the blasts were thought to have been simultaneous, that synchronised timed detonators were employed. This hypothesis changed as more information became available. Home-made organic peroxide-based devices were used, according to a May 2006 report from the British government’s Intelligence and Security Committee.
Fifty-six people, including the four suicide bombers, were killed by the attacks and about 700 were injured, of whom about 100 were hospitalised for at least one night. The incident was the deadliest single act of terrorism in the United Kingdom since the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people, and the deadliest bombing in London since the Second World War.
Police examined about 2,500 items of CCTV footage and forensic evidence from the scenes of the attacks. The bombs were probably placed on the floors of the trains and bus.
Investigators identified four men who they alleged had been the suicide bombers. This made the bombings the first ever suicide attack in the British Isles. Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister and future President of France, caused consternation at the British Home Office when he briefed the press that one of the names had been described the previous year at an Anglo-French security meeting as an asset of British intelligence. Home Secretary Charles Clarke said later that this was “not his recollection.”
Vincent Cannistraro, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency’s anti-terrorism centre, told The Guardian that “two unexploded bombs” were recovered as well as “mechanical timing devices”, although this claim was explicitly rejected by London’s Metropolitan Police Service.
West Yorkshire Police raided six properties in the Leeds area on 12 July: two houses in Beeston, two in Thornhill, one in Holbeck and one in Alexandra Grove in Hyde Park, Leeds. One man was arrested. Officers also raided a residential property on Northern Road in the Buckinghamshire town of Aylesbury on 13 July.
The police service say a significant amount of explosive material was found in the Leeds raids and a controlled explosion was carried out at one of the properties. Explosives were also found in the vehicle associated with one of the bombers, Shehzad Tanweer, at Luton railway station and subjected to controlled explosion.
There was speculation about a possible association between the bombers and another alleged Islamist cell in Luton which was ended during August 2004. The Luton group was uncovered after Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan was arrested in Lahore, Pakistan. His laptop computer was said to contain plans for tube attacks in London, as well as attacks on financial buildings in New York City and Washington, D.C. The group was subject to surveillance but on 2 August 2004 The New York Times published Khan’s name, citing Pakistani sources. The news leak forced police in Britain and Canada to make arrests before their investigations were complete. The US government later said they had given the name to some journalists as “background information”, for which Tom Ridge, the US homeland security secretary, apologised.
When the Luton cell was ended, one of the London bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan (no known relation), was scrutinised briefly by MI5 who determined that he was not a likely threat and he was not surveilled.
On 22 March 2007, three men were arrested in connection with the bombings. Two were arrested at 1 pm at Manchester Airport, attempting to board a flight bound for Pakistan that afternoon. They were apprehended by undercover officers who had been following the men as part of a surveillance operation. They had not intended to arrest the men that day, but believed they could not risk letting the suspects leave the country. A third man was arrested in the Beeston area of Leeds at an address on the street where one of the suicide bombers had lived before the attacks.
On 9 May 2007 police made four further arrests, three in Yorkshire and one in Selly Oak, Birmingham. Hasina Patel, widow of the presumed ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan, was among those arrested for “commissioning, preparing or instigating acts of terrorism”.
Three of those arrested, including Patel, were released on 15 May. The fourth, Khalid Khaliq, an unemployed single father of three, was charged on 17 July 2007 with possessing an al-Qaeda training manual, but the charge was not related to the 2005 London attacks. Conviction for possession of a document containing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism carried a maximum ten-year jail sentence.
Abdullah el-Faisal was deported to Jamaica, his country of origin, from Britain on 25 May 2006 after reaching the parole date in his prison sentence. He was found guilty of three charges of soliciting the murder of Jews, Americans and Hindus and two charges of using threatening words to incite racial hatred in 2003 and, despite an appeal, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. In 2006 John Reid alleged to MPs that el-Faisal had influenced Jamaican-born Briton Germaine Lindsay into participating in the 7/7 bombings.
The Guardian reported 3 May 2007 that police had investigated Mohammad Sidique Khan twice during 2005. The newspaper said it “learned that on 27 January 2005, police took a statement from the manager of a garage in Leeds which had loaned Khan a courtesy car while his vehicle was being repaired.” It also said that “on the afternoon of 3 February an officer from Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorism branch carried out inquiries with the company which had insured a car in which Khan was seen driving almost a year earlier”. Nothing about these inquiries appeared in the report by Parliament’s intelligence and security committee after it investigated the 7 July attacks. Scotland Yard described the 2005 inquiries as “routine”, while security sources said they were related to the fertiliser bomb plot.
While no warnings before the 7 July bombings have been documented officially or acknowledged, the following are sometimes quoted as indications either of the events to come or of some foreknowledge.
The Daily Telegraph reported that radical imam Anwar al-Awlaki inspired the bombers. The bombers transcribed lectures of al-Awlaki while plotting the bombings. His materials were found in the possession of accused accomplices of the suicide bombers. Awlaki has also been linked to the 2006 Ontario terrorism plot in Canada, the 2007 Fort Dix attack plot in New Jersey, the 2009 Fort Hood shooting in Texas, and the failed attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, a commercial flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, on Christmas Day, 2009. Al-Awlaki was killed by a US drone attack in 2011.
In October 2010 an independent coroner’s inquest of the bombings began. Lady Justice Hallett was appointed to hear the inquest, which would consider both whether the attacks were preventable, and the emergency service response to them.
After seven months of evidence and deliberation, the verdict of the inquiry was released and read in the Houses of Parliament on 9 May 2011. It determined that the 52 victims had been unlawfully killed; their deaths could not have been prevented, and they would probably have died “whatever time the emergency services reached and rescued them”. Hallett concluded that MI5 had not made every possible improvement since the attacks but that it was not “right or fair” to say more attention should have been paid to ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan prior to 7 July. She also decided that there should be no public inquiry.
The report provided nine recommendations to various bodies:
It was revealed in July 2011 that relatives of some of the victims of the bombings may have had their telephones accessed by the News of the World in the aftermath of the attacks. The revelations added to an existing controversy over phone hacking by the tabloid newspaper.
The fathers of two victims, one in the Edgware Road blast and another at Russell Square, told the BBC that police officers investigating the alleged hacking had warned them that their contact details were found on a target list, while a former firefighter who helped injured passengers escape from Edgware Road also said he had been contacted by police who were looking into the hacking allegations. A number of survivors from the bombed trains also revealed that police had warned them their phones may have been accessed and their messages intercepted, and in some cases officers advised them to change security codes and PIN numbers.
Since the bombings, the United Kingdom and other nations have honoured the victims in several ways. Most of these memorials have included moments of silence, candlelit vigils, and the laying of flowers at the attack sites. Foreign leaders have also remembered the dead by ordering their flags to be flown at half-mast, signing books of condolences at embassies of the UK, and issuing messages of support and condolences to the British people.
The government ordered the Union Flag to be flown at half-mast on 8 July. The following day, the Bishop of London led prayers for the victims during a service paying tribute to the role of women during the Second World War. A vigil, called by the Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Muslim Association of Britain, was held from 5 pm, at Friends Meeting House on Euston Road.
A two-minute silence was held on 14 July 2005 throughout Europe. Thousands attended a vigil at 6 pm on Trafalgar Square. After an initial silence there was a series of speakers for two hours. A memorial service was held at St Paul’s Cathedral on 1 November 2005. To mark the first anniversary of the attack, a two-minute silence was observed at midday across the country.
A permanent memorial was unvelied in 2009 by Prince Charles in Hyde Park to mark the fourth anniversary of the bombings. On the eve of the ninth anniversary of the attacks in 2014 the memorial was defaced with messages including “Blair lied, thousands died”. The graffiti were removed within hours.
During the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London a minute’s silence was held to commemorate those killed in the attacks.
US President George W. Bush visited the British embassy the day after the bombings, upon his return from the G8 summit in Scotland, and signed a book of condolence. In Washington, D.C., the US Army band played God Save the Queen (the British national anthem, the melody of which is also used in an American patriotic hymn, My Country, ‘Tis of Thee), a suggestion that US Army Veteran John Miska made to Vice Chief of Staff General Cody, outside the British embassy in the city. On 12 July, a Detroit Symphony Orchestra brass ensemble played the British national anthem during the pre-game festivities of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Comerica Park in Detroit.
Flags were ordered to fly at half-mast across Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The Union Flag was raised to half-mast alongside the Flag of Australia on Sydney Harbour Bridge as a show of “sympathy between nations”.
Moments of silence were observed in the European Parliament, the Polish parliament and by the Irish government on 14 July, at the same time as in the United Kingdom. The British national anthem was played at the changing of the royal guard at Plaza de Oriente in Madrid in memorial to the victims of the attacks. The ceremony was attended by the British ambassador to Spain and members of the Spanish Royal Family. After the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the UK had hosted a similar ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Friday, November 9, 2007
British-born Muslim hair stylist Bushra Noah is currently undertaking legal action against the owner of a hair salon for alleged religious discrimination. Noah is suing London hair salon owner Sarah Desroiser. Desroiser who runs a salon in King’s Cross, has said that she would not accept Noah as a stylist if Noah’s hair was covered. Noah, like many devout Muslims keeps her hair covered in public places, believing it to be immodest otherwise.
Noah claims that her headscarf is a fundamental part of her religious beliefs and that wearing the scarf would not interfere in her carrying out the job at all. Desrosiers said that it is not discrimination but rather that “the essence of my line of work is the display of hair. To me, it’s absolutely basic that people should be able to see the stylist’s hair. It has nothing to do with religion. It is just unfortunate that for her covering her hair symbolises religion.” Desosiers added that she had worked with Muslims in the past and employs a Muslim accountant.
Noah claims that the state of her own hair is irrelevant to her ability to style others hair.
The last few years have seen a string of similar cases in Britain. Last year, there was a case over whether a British Airways employee could wear a prominent cross, and another case in which a teacher argued that she had a right to wear a Jilb?b (a traditional Islamic dress that covers almost the entire body) in the classroom. In that case, the teacher lost in the High Court.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Telecom New Zealand has apologised to Gay Hamilton after her e-mail was bounced because it contained the word gay eight times. The automatic reply Ms Hamilton received stated that the e-mail was not suited for “business-like communication”.
Website designer and lesbian, Gay Hamilton had sent the largest public company in New Zealand a message to their help desk via e-mail, asking if she was able to receive their broadband services in her Nelson suburb.
Lenska Papich, spokesperson for Telecom, has said that e-mails are usually only monitored internally, and the words are blocked to help reduce harassment cases by threatening disciplinary action. “Our systems internally detect a number of words, including both the words gay and heterosexual, that could be deemed as inappropriate for use at work.” Telecom refused to list the other words that are blocked.
Ms Hamilton has said that she is worried about the amount of time and effort Telecom must have put into deciding that gay was an inappropriate word in e-mail communication. “If they do have to put content filters on, then maybe they should ensure that it only gets genuinely abusive words.”
Ms Hamilton has been apologised to by Lenska Papich, who said that she was very good about it all.
— Wikinews Welcome (talk) 12:36, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Submitted by: Adolphdf Cash
A lot of canopy tours are situated in various countries. A fantastic part of the land covered in rainforests, Costa Rica alone, already offers many canopy tours that will give thrill seekers a taste of the beauty of the natural environment. A well-known tourist attraction in Costa Rica will be the Arenal Paraiso canopy tour. Situated at the Canyon of the Arenal River, the Arenal Paraiso canopy tour comes having a view of picturesque landscapes and tropical rainforests. This tour could be among the most unforgettable experience inside your life.
Not like several tours that needs a long hike, the Arenal Paraiso canopy tour already starts having a short walk that will lead you to first of the 12 platforms. This is where canopy guides will brief you with essential instructions and fully inspect all equipment. All harnesses and equipment are of leading grade to guarantee your safety. At the last platform, a shuttle is going to be waiting with snacks and will safely return you to the start.
Utilizing steel cables and harnesses, a canopy tour is like becoming suspended in air and propelled to 1 platform to an additional. With 11 cables a lot more than 350 meters lengthy, 80 meters in height plus a total of 12 platforms, Arenal Paraiso canopy tour can bring you to exceptional spots that will provide you with an excellent panoramic birds-eye view of two gorgeous waterfalls along with a vast terrain of tropical rainforest.
The Arenal Paraiso canopy tour provides an extraordinary way for tourists to discover the exclusive ecosystem of the Costa Rica rainforests without becoming intrusive to the environment. It truly is very important to maintain and safeguard the natural habitat so this canopy tour paves way for people to bask in nature with out harming the environment.
Lots of people are now searching for more methods to get pleasure from a vacation beyond the usual swimming, sight-seeing, biking, hiking, snorkeling and diving activities. The Arenal Paraiso canopy tour gives an outstanding and exclusive adventure. The exhilarating feeling of gliding, as if you’re flying, makes this among the most sought-after adventures of a lifetime. The Arenal Paraiso canopy tour could be enjoyed by tourists from ages 8 to 70. For loved ones and group of pals, this is an exceptional outlet to get pleasure from and relish experiences that will truly be remembered for a lengthy time.
Canopy tours Jamaica: key to fun and pleasure
Jamaica is a country popularly known because of Jamaican music legend, Bob Marley As one of the origins of reggae music, Jamaica’s folks are accustomed to an environment of self-expression, passion plus a desire for the simple life. Jamaica is also fanous for its tourist spots and rainforests. Not so many individuals understand that Jamaica is actually a wonderful country hosting one of the finest eco-friendly adventures. There is a large and preserved terrain of natural landscapes, crystal clear waters, gorgeous forests, white sand beaches and wonderful sceneries that anybody can enjoy. One tourist attraction that has been receiving much attention from tourists are the canopy tours in Jamaica.
A canopy tour is actually a dynamic zip line activity that use a harness attached to a steel cable and propelled easily by gravity from 1 strategically placed platform to one more. The canopy tours in Jamaica can be nornally accomplished in 2-hours that permits you to have a birds-eye view of the remarkable scenery and natural landscapes. Perfect for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts, canopy tours in Jamaica is an incredible and thrilling experience and you can glide by way of the rainforest and witness the beauty of the Jamaican wildlife. As one of the leading eco-tourism attractions, canopy tours in Jamaica also incorporate tour guides who will make certain your safety, show you the fantastic sights and tell you interesting facts about the rainforest, ecosystem and exclusive plant and bird life of the country.
In Jamaica, a vacation is an unforgettable experience. You can add to your itinerary activities like horseback riding, swimming, biking, fishing, bird watching, and beach hopping. But in no way miss this chance for a one of a kind vacation. Canopy tours in Jamaica promise to bring you a memorable experience.
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Rescue efforts are underway to free more than 200 skiers trapped Tuesday at Maine’s Sugarloaf ski resort, which is located 120 miles north of Portland. Several injuries were reported after a ski lift broke down; an employee at the resort said this caused several people to fall to the ground.
The Spillway East lift reportedly came to a halt during high winds due to a derailment. Around 10:30 a.m. ET, a cable slid over one tower’s pulley leading to five chairs falling about 30 feet.
Ethan Austin, a resort spokesperson, revealed that several individuals were taken to near-by hospitals with non-life-threatening conditions. At the time, winds originating from this month’s blizzard were blowing up to 43 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. Austin confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the lift was carrying around 220 people at the time of the breakdown.
Efforts to remove trapped skiers are in progress Tuesday afternoon.
Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called “tweets”.
Registered users can read and post tweets, but unregistered users can only read them. Users access Twitter through the website interface, SMS, or mobile device app. Twitter Inc. is based in San Francisco and has more than 25 offices around the world 
Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass and by July 2006 the site was launched. The service rapidly gained worldwide popularity, with more than 100 million users who in 2012 posted 340 million tweets per day. The service also handled 1.6 billion search queries per day. In 2013 Twitter was one of the ten most-visited websites, and has been described as “the SMS of the Internet.” As of July 2014, Twitter has more than 500 million users, out of which more than 271 million are active users.
Twitter’s origins lie in a “daylong brainstorming session” held by board members of the podcasting company Odeo. Dorsey, then an undergraduate student at New York University, introduced the idea of an individual using an SMS service to communicate with a small group. The original project code name for the service was twttr, an idea that Williams later ascribed to Noah Glass, inspired by Flickr and the five-character length of American SMS short codes. The developers initially considered “10958” as a short code, but later changed it to “40404” for “ease of use and memorability.” Work on the project started on March 21, 2006, when Dorsey published the first Twitter message at 9:50 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST): “just setting up my twttr”. Dorsey has explained the origin of the “Twitter” title:
…we came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.
The first Twitter prototype, developed by Dorsey and contractor Florian Weber, was used as an internal service for Odeo employees and the full version was introduced publicly on July 15, 2006.
In October 2006, Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Dorsey, and other members of Odeo, formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo, together with its assets—including Odeo.com and Twitter.com—from the investors and shareholders. Williams fired Glass, who was silent about his part in Twitter’s startup until 2011. Twitter spun off into its own company in April 2007. Williams provided insight into the ambiguity that defined this early period in a 2013 interview:
With Twitter, it wasn’t clear what it was. They called it a social network, they called it microblogging, but it was hard to define, because it didn’t replace anything. There was this path of discovery with something like that, where over time you figure out what it is. Twitter actually changed from what we thought it was in the beginning, which we described as status updates and a social utility. It is that, in part, but the insight we eventually came to was Twitter was really more of an information network than it is a social network.
The tipping point for Twitter’s popularity was the 2007 South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference. During the event, Twitter usage increased from 20,000 tweets per day to 60,000. “The Twitter people cleverly placed two 60-inch plasma screens in the conference hallways, exclusively streaming Twitter messages,” remarked Newsweek’s Steven Levy. “Hundreds of conference-goers kept tabs on each other via constant twitters. Panelists and speakers mentioned the service, and the bloggers in attendance touted it.”
Reaction at the conference was highly positive. Blogger Scott Beale said that Twitter “absolutely rul[ed]” SXSWi. Social software researcher danah boyd said Twitter “own[ed]” the conference. Twitter staff received the festival’s Web Award prize with the remark “we’d like to thank you in 140 characters or less. And we just did!” 
The first unassisted off-Earth Twitter message was posted from the International Space Station by NASA astronaut T. J. Creamer on January 22, 2010. By late November 2010, an average of a dozen updates per day were posted on the astronauts’ communal account, @NASA_Astronauts. NASA has also hosted over 25 “tweetups”, events that provide guests with VIP access to NASA facilities and speakers with the goal of leveraging participants’ social networks to further the outreach goals of NASA.
In August 2010, the company appointed Adam Bain from News Corp.’s Fox Audience Network as president of revenue.
The company experienced rapid growth. It had 400,000 tweets posted per quarter in 2007. This grew to 100 million tweets posted per quarter in 2008. In February 2010, Twitter users were sending 50 million tweets per day. By March 2010, the company recorded over 70,000 registered applications. As of June 2010, about 65 million tweets were posted each day, equaling about 750 tweets sent each second, according to Twitter. As of March 2011, that was about 140 million tweets posted daily. As noted on Compete.com, Twitter moved up to the third-highest-ranking social networking site in January 2009 from its previous rank of twenty-second.
Twitter’s usage spikes during prominent events. For example, a record was set during the 2010 FIFA World Cup when fans wrote 2,940 tweets per second in the thirty-second period after Japan scored against Cameroon on June 14. The record was broken again when 3,085 tweets per second were posted after the Los Angeles Lakers’ victory in the 2010 NBA Finals on June 17, and then again at the close of Japan’s victory over Denmark in the World Cup when users published 3,283 tweets per second. The record was set again during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final between Japan and the United States, when 7,196 tweets per second were published. When American singer Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009, Twitter servers crashed after users were updating their status to include the words “Michael Jackson” at a rate of 100,000 tweets per hour. The current record as of August 3, 2013 was set in Japan, with 143,199 tweets per second (beating the previous record of 33,388, also set by Japan after a television screening of the movie “Castle In The Sky”).
Twitter acquired application developer Atebits on April 11, 2010. Atebits had developed the Apple Design Award-winning Twitter client Tweetie for the Mac and iPhone. The application, now called “Twitter” and distributed free of charge, is the official Twitter client for the iPhone, iPad and Mac.
From September through October 2010, the company began rolling out “New Twitter”, an entirely revamped edition of twitter.com. Changes included the ability to see pictures and videos without leaving Twitter itself by clicking on individual tweets which contain links to images and clips from a variety of supported websites including YouTube and Flickr, and a complete overhaul of the interface, which shifted links such as ‘@mentions’ and ‘Retweets’ above the Twitter stream, while ‘Messages’ and ‘Log Out’ became accessible via a black bar at the very top of twitter.com. As of November 1, 2010, the company confirmed that the “New Twitter experience” had been rolled out to all users.
On April 5, 2011, Twitter tested a new homepage and phased out the “Old Twitter.”  However, a glitch came about after the page was launched, so the previous “retro” homepage was still in use until the issues were resolved; the new homepage was reintroduced on April 20.
On December 8, 2011, Twitter overhauled its website once more to feature the “Fly” design, which the service says is easier for new users to follow and promotes advertising. In addition to the Home tab, the Connect and Discover tabs were introduced along with a redesigned profile and timeline of Tweets. The site’s layout has been compared to that of Facebook.
On February 21, 2012, it was announced that Twitter and Yandex agreed to a partnership. Yandex, a Russian search engine, finds value within the partnership due to Twitter’s real time news feeds. Twitter’s director of business development explained that it is important to have Twitter content where Twitter users go.
On March 21, 2012, Twitter celebrated its sixth birthday while also announcing that it has 140 million users and sees 340 million tweets per day. The number of users is up 40% from their September 2011 number, which was said to have been at 100 million at the time.
In April 2012, Twitter announced that it was opening an office in Detroit, with the aim of working with automotive brands and advertising agencies. Twitter also expanded its office in Dublin.
On June 5, 2012, a modified logo was unveiled through the company blog, removing the text to showcase the slightly redesigned bird as the sole symbol of Twitter.
On October 5, 2012, Twitter acquired a video clip company called Vine that launched in January 2013. Twitter released Vine as a standalone app that allows users to create and share six-second looping video clips on January 24, 2013. Vine videos shared on Twitter are visible directly in users’ Twitter feeds. Due to an influx of inappropriate content, it is now rated 17+ in Apple’s app store.
On December 18, 2012, Twitter announced it had surpassed 200 million monthly active users. Twitter hit 100 million monthly active users in September 2011.
On April 18, 2013, Twitter launched a music app called Twitter Music for the iPhone.
On August 28, 2013, Twitter acquired Trendrr, followed by the acquisition of MoPub on September 9, 2013.
As of September 2013, the company’s data showed that 200 million users send over 400 million tweets daily, with nearly 60% of tweets sent from mobile devices.
On June 4, 2014, Twitter announced that it will acquire Namo Media, a technology firm specializing in “native advertising” for mobile devices.
On June 19, 2014, Twitter announced that it has reached an undisclosed deal to buy SnappyTV, a service that helps edit and share video from television broadcasts. The company was helping broadcasters and rights holders to share video content both organically across social and via Twitter’s Amplify program.
In July, 2014, Twitter announced that it intends to buy a young company called CardSpring for an undisclosed sum. CardSpring enables retailers to offer online shoppers coupons that they can automatically sync to their credit cards in order to receive discounts when they shop in physical stores.
On July 31, 2014, Twitter announced that it has acquired a small password-security startup called Mitro.
On October 29, 2014, Twitter announced a new partnership with IBM. The partnership is intended to help businesses use Twitter data to understand their customers, businesses and other trends.
On September 12, 2013, Twitter announced that it had filed papers with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ahead of a planned stock market listing. It revealed its prospectus in an 800-page filing. Twitter planned to raise US$1 billion as the basis for its stock market debut. The IPO filing states that “200,000,000+ monthly active users” access Twitter and “500,000,000+ tweets per day” are posted.
In an October 15, 2013 amendment to their SEC S-1 filing, Twitter declared that they would list on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), quashing speculation that their stock would trade on the NASDAQ exchange. This decision was widely viewed to be a reaction to the botched initial public offering of Facebook. On November 6, 2013, 70 million shares were priced at US$26 and issued by lead underwriter Goldman Sachs.
On November 7, 2013, the first day of trading on the NYSE, Twitter shares opened at $26.00 and closed at US$44.90, giving the company a valuation of around US$31 billion. This was $18.90 above the initial offering price and Twitter ended with a market capitalization of $24.46 billion. The paperwork from November 7 shows that among the founders, Williams received a sum of US$2.56 billion and Dorsey received US$1.05 billion, while Costolo’s payment was US$345 million.
As of 13 December 2013[update], Twitter had “a market capitalization of $32.76 billion”.
On February 5, 2014, Twitter published its first results as a public company, showing a net loss of $511 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.
As chief executive officer, Dorsey saw the startup through two rounds of capital funding by the venture capitalists who backed the company.
On October 16, 2008, Williams took over the role of CEO, and Dorsey became chairman of the board.
On October 4, 2010, Williams announced that he was stepping down as CEO. Dick Costolo, formerly Twitter’s chief operating officer, became CEO. According to a Twitter blog, dated October 4, 2010, Williams was to stay[dated info] with the company and “be completely focused on product strategy.”[dated info]
According to The New York Times, “Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Costolo forged a close relationship” when Williams was away. According to PC Magazine, Williams was “no longer involved in the day-to-day goings on at the company”. He was focused on developing a new startup, and became a member of Twitter’s board of directors, and promised to “help in any way I can”. In 2011, Stone was still with Twitter but was working with AOL as an “advisor on volunteer efforts and philanthropy”. In January 2014 Stone announced the release of Jelly, a ‘social Q&A network for mobile’.
Dorsey rejoined Twitter in March 2011, as executive chairman focusing on product development. At that time he split his schedule with Square (where he is CEO), whose offices are within walking distance of Twitter’s in San Francisco.
In September 2011, board members and investors Fred Wilson and Bijan Sabet resigned from Twitter’s Board of Directors.
In October 2012, Twitter announced it had hired former Google executive Matt Derella to become their new director of business agency development.
Twitter has become internationally identifiable by its signature bird logo. The original logo was in use from its launch in March 2006 until September 2010. A slightly modified version succeeded the first style when the website underwent its first redesign.
On February 27, 2012, a tweet from an employee that works on the company’s platform and API discussed the evolution of the “Larry the Bird” logo with Twitter’s creative director and it was revealed that it was named after Larry Bird of the NBA’s Boston Celtics fame. This detail had previously been confirmed when the Boston Celtics’ director of interactive media asked Twitter co-founder Biz Stone about it in August 2011.
On June 5, 2012, Twitter unveiled its third logo redesign, replacing Larry the Bird with an updated icon simply named as the “Twitter Bird.” As of this logo revision, the word “Twitter” and the lowercase letter “t” are no longer used, with the bird becoming the sole symbol for the company’s branding. According to Douglas Bowman, designer of Twitter, the new logo resembles a Mountain Bluebird. Twitter explains on their website not to modify the logo (e.g. rotate the bird, change the logo’s color, etc.).
Tweets are publicly visible by default, but senders can restrict message delivery to just their followers. Users can tweet via the Twitter website, compatible external applications (such as for smartphones), or by Short Message Service (SMS) available in certain countries. Retweeting is when a tweet is forwarded via Twitter by users. Both tweets and retweets can be tracked to see which ones are most popular. While the service is free, accessing it through SMS may incur phone service provider fees.
Users may subscribe to other users’ tweets – this is known as “following” and subscribers are known as “followers” or “tweeps”, a portmanteau of Twitter and peeps. Users can check the people who are unsubscribing them on Twitter (“unfollowing”) via various services. In addition, users can block those who have followed them.
Twitter allows users to update their profile via their mobile phone either by text messaging or by apps released for certain smartphones and tablets.
Twitter has been compared to a web-based Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client. In a 2009 Time essay, technology author Steven Johnson described the basic mechanics of Twitter as “remarkably simple”:
As a social network, Twitter revolves around the principle of followers. When you choose to follow another Twitter user, that user’s tweets appear in reverse chronological order on your main Twitter page. If you follow 20 people, you’ll see a mix of tweets scrolling down the page: breakfast-cereal updates, interesting new links, music recommendations, even musings on the future of education.
According to research published in April 2014, around 44 percent of user accounts have never tweeted.
San Antonio-based market-research firm Pear Analytics analyzed 2,000 tweets (originating from the United States and in English) over a two-week period in August 2009 from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm (CST) and separated them into six categories:
Despite Jack Dorsey’s own open contention that a message on Twitter is “a short burst of inconsequential information”, social networking researcher danah boyd responded to the Pear Analytics survey by arguing that what the Pear researchers labelled “pointless babble” is better characterized as “social grooming” and/or “peripheral awareness” (which she justifies as persons “want[ing] to know what the people around them are thinking and doing and feeling, even when co-presence isn’t viable”). Similarly, a survey of Twitter users found that a more specific social role of passing along messages that include a hyperlink is an expectation of reciprocal linking by followers.
Users can group posts together by topic or type by use of hashtags – words or phrases prefixed with a
"#" sign. Similarly, the
"@" sign followed by a username is used for mentioning or replying to other users. To repost a message from another Twitter user and share it with one’s own followers, a user can click the retweet button within the Tweet.
In late 2009, the “Twitter Lists” feature was added, making it possible for users to follow (as well as mention and reply to) ad hoc lists of authors instead of individual authors.
Through SMS, users can communicate with Twitter through five gateway numbers: short codes for the United States, Canada, India, New Zealand, and an Isle of Man-based number for international use. There is also a short code in the United Kingdom which is only accessible to those on the Vodafone, O2 and Orange networks. In India, since Twitter only supports tweets from Bharti Airtel, an alternative platform called smsTweet was set up by a user to work on all networks. A similar platform called GladlyCast exists for mobile phone users in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
The tweets were set to a largely constrictive 140-character limit for compatibility with SMS messaging, introducing the shorthand notation and slang commonly used in SMS messages. The 140-character limit has also increased the usage of URL shortening services such as bit.ly, goo.gl, and tr.im, and content-hosting services, such as Twitpic, memozu.com and NotePub to accommodate multimedia content and text longer than 140 characters. Since June 2011, Twitter has used its own t.co domain for automatic shortening of all URLs posted on its website.
A word, phrase or topic that is tagged at a greater rate than other tags is said to be a “trending topic”. Trending topics become popular either through a concerted effort by users, or because of an event that prompts people to talk about a specific topic. These topics help Twitter and their users to understand what is happening in the world.
Trending topics are sometimes the result of concerted efforts and manipulations by preteen and teenaged fans of certain celebrities or cultural phenomena, particularly musicians like Lady Gaga (known as Little Monsters), Justin Bieber (Beliebers), and One Direction (Directioners), and fans of the Twilight (Twihards), Rihanna fans (Rih Navy), and Harry Potter (Potterheads) novels. Twitter has altered the trend algorithm in the past to prevent manipulation of this type to limited success.
Twitter’s March 30, 2010 blog post announced that the hottest Twitter trending topics would scroll across the Twitter homepage.
There have been controversies surrounding Twitter trending topics: Twitter has censored hashtags that other users found offensive. Twitter censored the #Thatsafrican and the #thingsdarkiessay hashtags after users complained that they found the hashtags offensive. There are allegations that Twitter removed #NaMOinHyd from the trending list and added an Indian National Congress-sponsored hashtag.
There are numerous tools for adding content, monitoring content and conversations including Telly (video sharing, old name is Twitvid), TweetDeck, Salesforce.com, HootSuite, and Twitterfeed. As of 2009, fewer than half of tweets were posted using the web user interface with most users using third-party applications (based on analysis of 500 million tweets by Sysomos).
A verified Twitter account formally validates the identity of the person or company that owns the account—the aim of the “verified” status is to prevent impersonation through the placement of a small blue checkmark by the top-right corner of a user’s page, or next to the username in the platform’s Search function. Twitter is responsible for assigning the blue checkmark, and it is frequently applied to the accounts of notable people in politics, music, movies, business, fashion, government, sports, media, and journalism.
The owners of verified accounts can also access additional features that are not available to standard Twitter-account holders. These features include the following:
Twitter has mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Firefox OS, and Nokia S40. There is also version of the website for mobile devices, SMS and MMS service. Twitter limits the use of third party applications utilizing the service by implementing a 100,000 user limit.
As of August 31, 2010, third-party Twitter applications are required to use OAuth, an authentication method that does not require users to enter their password into the authenticating application. Previously, the OAuth authentication method was optional, it is now compulsory and the user-name/password authentication method has been made redundant and is no longer functional. Twitter stated that the move to OAuth will mean “increased security and a better experience”.
This feature adds websites to the bottom of a tweet’s permalink page. If a website embedded a tweet onto one of their stories, the tweet will show the websites that mentioned the tweet. This feature was added onto Twitter so if the viewer doesn’t understand what the tweet means, they can click on the sites to read more about what the person is talking about.
Twitter is ranked as one of the ten-most-visited websites worldwide by Alexa’s web traffic analysis. Daily user estimates vary as the company does not publish statistics on active accounts. A February 2009 Compete.com blog entry ranked Twitter as the third most used social network based on their count of 6 million unique monthly visitors and 55 million monthly visits. In March 2009, a Nielsen.com blog ranked Twitter as the fastest-growing website in the Member Communities category for February 2009. Twitter had annual growth of 1,382 percent, increasing from 475,000 unique visitors in February 2008 to 7 million in February 2009. In 2009, Twitter had a monthly user retention rate of forty percent.
In 2009, Twitter was mainly used by older adults who might not have used other social sites before Twitter, said Jeremiah Owyang, an industry analyst studying social media. “Adults are just catching up to what teens have been doing for years,” he said. According to comScore only eleven percent of Twitter’s users are aged twelve to seventeen. comScore attributed this to Twitter’s “early adopter period” when the social network first gained popularity in business settings and news outlets attracting primarily older users. However, comScore also stated in 2009 that Twitter had begun to “filter more into the mainstream”, and “along with it came a culture of celebrity as Shaq, Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher joined the ranks of the Twitterati.”
According to a study by Sysomos in June 2009, women make up a slightly larger Twitter demographic than men — fifty-three percent over forty-seven percent. It also stated that five percent of users accounted for seventy-five percent of all activity, and that New York City has more Twitter users than other cities.
According to Quancast, twenty-seven million people in the US used Twitter as of September 3, 2009. Sixty-three percent of Twitter users are under thirty-five years old; sixty percent of Twitter users are Caucasian, but a higher than average (compared to other Internet properties) are African American/black (sixteen percent) and Hispanic (eleven percent); fifty-eight percent of Twitter users have a total household income of at least US$60,000. The prevalence of African American Twitter usage and in many popular hashtags has been the subject of research studies.
On September 7, 2011, Twitter announced that it has 100 million active users logging in at least once a month and 50 million active users every day.
In an article published on January 6, 2012, Twitter was confirmed to be the biggest social media network in Japan, with Facebook following closely in second. comScore confirmed this, stating that Japan is the only country in the world where Twitter leads Facebook.
On March 31, 2014, Twitter announced there were 255 million monthly active users (MAUs) and 198 million mobile MAUs. In 2013, there were over 100 million users actively using Twitter daily and about 500 million Tweets every day, with about 29% of users checking Twitter multiple times a day.
In 2012, the country with the most active users on Twitter was the United States.
Twitter raised over US$57 million from venture capitalist growth funding, although exact numbers are not publicly disclosed. Twitter’s first A round of funding was for an undisclosed amount that is rumored to have been between US$1 million and US$5 million. Its second B round of funding in 2008 was for US$22 million and its third C round of funding in 2009 was for US$35 million from Institutional Venture Partners and Benchmark Capital along with an undisclosed amount from other investors including Union Square Ventures, Spark Capital, and Insight Venture Partners. Twitter is backed by Union Square Ventures, Digital Garage, Spark Capital, and Bezos Expeditions.
In May 2008, The Industry Standard remarked that Twitter’s long-term viability is limited by a lack of revenue. Twitter board member Todd Chaffee forecast that the company could profit from e-commerce, noting that users may want to buy items directly from Twitter since it already provides product recommendations and promotions.
By March 2009 communications consultant Bill Douglass predicted in an interview that Twitter would be worth $1 billion within six months, which came to pass when the company closed a financing round valuing it at $1 billion in September of that year.
The company raised US$200 million in new venture capital in December 2010, at a valuation of approximately US$3.7 billion. In March 2011, 35,000 Twitter shares sold for US$34.50 each on Sharespost, an implied valuation of US$7.8 billion. In August, 2010 Twitter announced a “significant” investment lead by Digital Sky Technologies that, at US$800 million, was reported to be the largest venture round in history.
In December 2011, the Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal invested $300 million in Twitter. The company was valued at $8.4 billion at the time.
In July 2009, some of Twitter’s revenue and user growth documents were published on TechCrunch after being illegally obtained by Hacker Croll. The documents projected 2009 revenues of US$400,000 in the third quarter and US$4 million in the fourth quarter along with 25 million users by the end of the year. The projections for the end of 2013 were US$1.54 billion in revenue, US$111 million in net earnings, and 1 billion users. No information about how Twitter planned to achieve those numbers was published. In response, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone published a blog post suggesting the possibility of legal action against the hacker.
On April 13, 2010, Twitter announced plans to offer paid advertising for companies that would be able to purchase “promoted tweets” to appear in selective search results on the Twitter website, similar to Google Adwords’ advertising model. As of April 13, Twitter announced it had already signed up a number of companies wishing to advertise, including Sony Pictures, Red Bull, Best Buy, and Starbucks.
The company generated US$45 million in annual revenue in 2010, after beginning sales midway through that year; the company operated at a loss through most of 2010.
Users’ photos can generate royalty-free revenue for Twitter, and an agreement with World Entertainment News Network (WENN) was announced in May 2011. In June 2011, Twitter announced that it would offer small businesses a self-service advertising system. Twitter generated US$139.5 million in advertising sales during 2011.
The self-service advertising platform was launched in March 2012 to American Express card members and merchants in the U.S. on an invite-only basis. Twitter later reported that numerous small businesses and people who used the self-service tool provided feedback that indicated they were impressed by the feature. To continue their advertising campaign, Twitter announced on March 20, 2012 that promoted tweets would be introduced to mobile devices. In April 2013, Twitter announced that its Twitter Ads self-service platform, consisting of promoted tweets and promoted accounts, was available to all U.S. users without an invite.
Twitter’s financial revenue statistics for the first quarter of 2014 was reported as US$250 million.
Twitter places great reliance on open-source software. The Twitter Web interface uses the Ruby on Rails framework, deployed on a performance enhanced Ruby Enterprise Edition implementation of Ruby.
In the early days of Twitter, tweets were stored in MySQL databases that were temporally sharded, that is the databases were split by time of posting. MySQL was causing problems with both reading and writing to Twitter and the company decided that the system needed re-engineering.
As of April 6, 2011, Twitter engineers confirmed they had switched away from their Ruby on Rails search stack, to a Java server they call Blender.
From Spring 2007 to 2008 the messages were handled by a Ruby persistent queue server called Starling, but since 2009 implementation has been gradually replaced with software written in Scala. The switch from Ruby to Scala and the JVM has given Twitter a performance boost from 200—300 requests per second per host to around 10,000–20,000 requests per second per host. This boost was greater than the 10x improvement that Twitter’s engineers envisioned when starting the switch. The continued development of Twitter has also involved a switch from monolithic development of a single app to an architecture where different services are built independently and joined through remote procedure calls.
The service’s application programming interface (API) allows other web services and applications to integrate with Twitter.
Individual tweets are registered under unique IDs using software called snowflake and geolocation data is added using ‘Rockdove’. The URL shortner t.co then checks for a spam link and shortens the URL. The tweets are stored in a MySQL database using Gizzard and acknowledged to users as having been sent. They are then sent to search engines via the Firehose API. The process itself is managed by FlockDB and takes an average of 350 ms.
On August 16, 2013, Twitter’s Vice President of Platform Engineering Raffi Krikorian shared in a blog post that the company’s infrastructure handled almost 143,000 tweets per second during that week, setting a new record. Krikorian explained that Twitter achieved this record by blending its homegrown and open source technologies.
On April 30, 2009, Twitter adjusted its web interface, adding a search bar and a sidebar of “trending topics” — the most common phrases appearing in messages. Biz Stone explains that all messages are instantly indexed and that “with this newly launched feature, Twitter has become something unexpectedly important – a discovery engine for finding out what is happening right now.”
In March 2012, Twitter became available in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu, the first right-to-left language versions of the site. About 13,000 volunteers helped with translating the menu options. In August 2012, beta support for Basque, Czech and Greek was added, making the site available in 33 different languages.
When Twitter experiences an outage, users once saw the “fail whale” error message image created by Yiying Lu, illustrating eight orange birds using a net to hoist a whale from the ocean captioned “Too many tweets! Please wait a moment and try again.”. In a November 2013 WIRED interview Chris Fry, VP of Engineering at that time, noted that the company had taken the “fail whale” out of production as the platform was now more stable.
Twitter had approximately ninety-eight percent uptime in 2007 (or about six full days of downtime). The downtime was particularly noticeable during events popular with the technology industry such as the 2008 Macworld Conference & Expo keynote address.
Twitter messages are public but users can also send private messages. Twitter collects personally identifiable information about its users and shares it with third parties. The service reserves the right to sell this information as an asset if the company changes hands. While Twitter displays no advertising, advertisers can target users based on their history of tweets and may quote tweets in ads directed specifically to the user.
A security vulnerability was reported on April 7, 2007, by Nitesh Dhanjani and Rujith. Since Twitter used the phone number of the sender of an SMS message as authentication, malicious users could update someone else’s status page by using SMS spoofing. The vulnerability could be used if the spoofer knew the phone number registered to their victim’s account. Within a few weeks of this discovery Twitter introduced an optional personal identification number (PIN) that its users could use to authenticate their SMS-originating messages.
On January 5, 2009, 33 high-profile Twitter accounts were compromised after a Twitter administrator’s password was guessed by a dictionary attack. Falsified tweets — including sexually explicit and drug-related messages — were sent from these accounts.
Twitter launched the beta version of their “Verified Accounts” service on June 11, 2009, allowing famous or notable people to announce their Twitter account name. The home pages of these accounts display a badge indicating their status.
In May 2010, a bug was discovered by ?nci Sözlük, involving users that allowed Twitter users to force others to follow them without the other users’ consent or knowledge. For example, comedian Conan O’Brien’s account, which had been set to follow only one person, was changed to receive nearly 200 malicious subscriptions.
In response to Twitter’s security breaches, the US Federal Trade Commission brought charges against the service which were settled on June 24, 2010. This was the first time the FTC had taken action against a social network for security lapses. The settlement requires Twitter to take a number of steps to secure users’ private information, including maintenance of a “comprehensive information security program” to be independently audited biannually.
On December 14, 2010, the United States Department of Justice issued a subpoena directing Twitter to provide information for accounts registered to or associated with WikiLeaks. Twitter decided to notify its users and said in a statement, “…it’s our policy to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so”.
In May 2011, a claimant known as “CTB” (subsequently identified as Ryan Giggs) in the case of CTB v Twitter Inc., Persons Unknown took legal action at the High Court of Justice in London against Twitter, requesting that Twitter release details of account holders. This followed gossip posted on Twitter about Giggs’ private life, causing conflict relating to privacy injunctions. Tony Wang, the head of Twitter in Europe, said that people who do “bad things” on the site would need to defend themselves under the laws of their own jurisdiction in the event of controversy, and that the site would hand over information about users to the authorities when it was legally required to do so. He also suggested that Twitter would accede to a UK court order to divulge names of users responsible for “illegal activity” on the site.
On May 29, 2011, it was reported that South Tyneside council in England had successfully taken legal action against Twitter in a court in California, which forced Twitter to reveal the details of five user accounts. The council was trying to discover the identity of a blogger called “Mr Monkey” who allegedly posted libellous statements about three local councillors.
On January 23, 2012, it was reported that Twitter would be acquiring Dasient, a startup that offers malware protection for businesses. Twitter hopes that Dasient will help remove hateful advertisers on the website.
On January 26, 2012, Twitter began offering a feature which would allow tweets to be removed selectively by country. Twitter cited France and Germany as examples, where pro-Nazi content is illegal. Previously, deleted tweets were removed in all countries. The first use of the policy was to block the account of German neo-Nazi group Besseres Hannover on October 18, 2012. The policy was used again the following day to remove anti-Semitic French tweets with the hashtag #unbonjuif (“a good Jew”).
On February 20, 2012, a third-party public-key encryption app (written in Python and partially funded by a grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation) for private messaging in Twitter, CrypTweet, was released.
On May 17, 2012, Twitter announced it would implement the “Do Not Track” privacy option, a cookie-blocking feature found in Mozilla’s Firefox browser. The “Do Not Track” feature works only on sites that have agreed to the service.
In August 2012 it was reported that there is a market in fake Twitter followers that are used to increase politicians’ and celebrities’ apparent popularity. The black market for the fake followers, known as “bots”, has been linked to “nearly every politically linked account from the White House to Congress to the 2016 campaign trail.” In June 2014, POLITICO analyzed Twitter handles with the highest rates of fake followers: US President Barack Obama with 46.8 percent, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz with 35.1 percent, and Senator John McCain with 23.6 percent. The culprits working to generate the fake followers, or “bots”, include campaign workers or friends of political candidates. One site offers 1,000 fake followers for $20. The people creating the “bots” are often from Eastern Europe and Asia. In 2013, two Italian researchers calculated 10 percent of total accounts on Twitter are “bots” however, other estimates have placed the figure even higher.
In April 2013 Twitter warned news organizations around the world to secure their Twitter accounts after a number of high profile hacks of official accounts including those of the Associated Press and The Guardian. In May 2013, Twitter announced a two-factor login verification as an added measure against hacking.
In August 2013, Twitter announced plans to introduce a “report abuse” button for all versions of the site. A petition for making the process of complaining about harassment easier had collected over 100,000 signatures. The move followed the posting of abusive tweets, including rape and death threats to historian Mary Beard, British feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez and the British MP Stella Creasy. Three men were arrested under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 in connection with the incidents.
In August 2014, Twitter said that in certain cases it would delete pictures of people who had died after requests from family members and “authorized individuals”. The move followed controversy over the sharing of images on Twitter showing the killing of American journalist James Foley.
Twitter has a history of both using and releasing open source software while overcoming technical challenges of their service. A page in their developer documentation thanks dozens of open source projects which they have used, from revision control software like Git to programming languages such as Ruby and Scala. Software released as open source by the company includes the Gizzard Scala framework for creating distributed datastores, the distributed graph database FlockDB, the Finagle library for building asynchronous RPC servers and clients, the TwUI user interface framework for iOS, and the Bower client-side package manager. The popular Twitter Bootstrap web design library was also started at Twitter and is the most popular repository on GitHub.
On April 17, 2012, Twitter announced it would implement an “Innovators Patent Agreement” which would obligate Twitter to only use its patents for defensive purposes. The agreement went into effect in 2012.
t.co is a URL shortening service created by Twitter. It is only available for links posted to Twitter and not available for general use. All links posted to Twitter use a t.co wrapper. Twitter hopes that the service will be able to protect users from malicious sites, and will use it to track clicks on links within tweets.
Having previously used the services of third parties TinyURL and bit.ly, Twitter began experimenting with its own URL shortening service for private messages in March 2010 using the twt.tl domain, before it purchased the t.co domain. The service was tested on the main site using the accounts @TwitterAPI, @rsarver and @raffi. On September 2, 2010, an email from Twitter to users said they would be expanding the roll-out of the service to users. On June 7, 2011, Twitter announced that it was rolling out the feature.
On June 1, 2011, Twitter announced its own integrated photo-sharing service that enables users to upload a photo and attach it to a Tweet right from Twitter.com. Users now also have the ability to add pictures to Twitter’s search by adding hashtags to the tweet. Twitter also plans to provide photo galleries designed to gather and syndicate all photos that a user has uploaded on Twitter and third-party services such as TwitPic.
A Twitterbot is a computer program that automatically posts on Twitter, they are programmed to tweet, retweet, and follow other accounts. According to a recent report, there were 20 million, less than 5%, of accounts on Twitter that were fraudulent in 2013. These fake accounts are often used to build large follower populations quickly for advertisers, while others respond to tweets that include a certain word or phrase. These ‘bots’ embody the automation of modern life as they connect directly to Twitter’s mainline computing the information they intake and posting on a whim. Twitter’s wide-open application programming interface and cloud servers make it possible for twitterbots’ existence within the social networking site.
Twitter has been used for a variety of purposes in many industries and scenarios. For example, it has been used to organize protests, sometimes referred to as “Twitter Revolutions”, which include the 2011 Egyptian revolution, 2010–2011 Tunisian protests, 2009–2010 Iranian election protests, and 2009 Moldova civil unrest. The governments of Iran and Egypt blocked the service in retaliation. The Hill on February 28, 2011 described Twitter and other social media as a “strategic weapon … which have the apparent ability to re-align the social order in real time, with little or no advanced warning.” During the Arab Spring in early 2011, the number of hashtags mentioning the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt increased. A study by the Dubai School of Government found that only 0.26% of the Egyptian population, 0.1% of the Tunisian population and 0.04% of the Syrian population are active on Twitter.
The service is also used as a form of civil disobedience: in 2010, users expressed outrage over the Twitter Joke Trial by making obvious jokes about terrorism; and in the British privacy injunction debate in the same country a year later, where several celebrities who had taken out anonymised injunctions, most notably the Manchester United player Ryan Giggs, were identified by thousands of users in protest to traditional journalism being censored.
Another, more real time and practical use for Twitter exists as an effective de facto emergency communication system for breaking news. It was neither intended nor designed for high performance communication, but the idea that it could be used for emergency communication certainly was not lost on the originators, who knew that the service could have wide-reaching effects early on when the San Francisco, California company used it to communicate during earthquakes. The Boston Police tweeted news of the arrest of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing suspect. Another practical use that is being studied is Twitter’s ability to track epidemics and how they spread. In addition, Twitter has acted as a sensor for automatic response to natural disasters such as bush fires.
Twitter has been used by Somalia’s al-Shabaab rebels, who had their accounts suspended after they used the site to claim responsibility for an attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi in September 2013.
In May 2008, The Wall Street Journal wrote that social networking services such as Twitter “elicit mixed feelings in the technology-savvy people who have been their early adopters. Fans say they are a good way to keep in touch with busy friends. But some users are starting to feel ‘too’ connected, as they grapple with check-in messages at odd hours, higher cellphone bills and the need to tell acquaintances to stop announcing what they’re having for dinner.”
Twitter has been adopted as a communication and learning tool in educational settings mostly in colleges and universities. It has been used as a backchannel to promote student interactions, especially in large-lecture courses. Research has found that using Twitter in college courses helps students communicate with each other and faculty, promotes informal learning, allows shy students a forum for increased participation, increases student engagement, and improves overall course grades.
Tech writer Bruce Sterling commented in 2007 that using Twitter for “literate communication” is “about as likely as firing up a CB radio and hearing some guy recite the Iliad“. In September 2008, the journalist Clive Thompson mused in a The New York Times Magazine editorial that the service had expanded narcissism into “a new, supermetabolic extreme—the ultimate expression of a generation of celebrity-addled youths who believe their every utterance is fascinating and ought to be shared with the world.” One of the earliest documented forms of celebrity related twitter-like disclosures dates from 1980, when real estate mogul William Desmond Ryan made round the clock press releases about his relationship with comedienne Phyllis Diller, even revealing what she was making him for dinner on a nightly basis. Conversely, Vancouver Sun columnist Steve Dotto opined that part of Twitter’s appeal is the challenge of trying to publish such messages in tight constraints, and Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School, said that “the qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful”.
The novelist Rick Moody wrote a short story for Electric Literature called “Some Contemporary Characters,” composed entirely of tweets.
In 2009, Nielsen Online reported that Twitter has a user retention rate of forty percent. Many people stop using the service after a month, therefore the site may potentially reach only about ten percent of all Internet users. In 2009, Twitter won the “Breakout of the Year” Webby Award. During a February 2009 discussion on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition, the journalist Daniel Schorr stated that Twitter accounts of events lacked rigorous fact-checking and other editorial improvements. In response, Andy Carvin gave Schorr two examples of breaking news stories that played out on Twitter and said users wanted first-hand accounts and sometimes debunked stories. On November 29, 2009 Twitter was named the Word of the Year by the Global Language Monitor, declaring it “a new form of social interaction”. Time magazine acknowledged its growing level of influence in its 2010 Time 100; to determine the influence of people, it used a formula based on famous social networking sites, Twitter and Facebook. The list ranges from Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey to Lady Gaga and Ashton Kutcher. The U.S. government, seeing social media’s role in the 2010 Arab Spring revolts, covertly developed a Cuban alternative to Twitter called ZunZuneo as part of a long-term strategy to “stir unrest”. The service was active from 2010 to 2012.
During the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, in which he appeared at the London Olympic Stadium in person, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web, tweeted “This is for everyone”, which was instantly spelled out in LCD lights attached to the chairs of the 80,000 people in the audience.
World leaders and their diplomats have taken note of Twitter’s rapid expansion and have been increasingly utilizing Twitter diplomacy, the use of Twitter to engage with foreign publics and their own citizens. US Ambassador to Russia, Michael A. McFaul has been attributed as a pioneer of international Twitter diplomacy. He used Twitter after becoming ambassador in 2011, posting in English and Russian. On October 24, 2014, Queen Elizabeth II sent her first tweet to mark the opening of the London Science Museum’s Information Age exhibition. A 2013 study by website Twiplomacy found that 153 of the 193 countries represented at the United Nations had established government Twitter accounts. The same study also found that those accounts amounted to 505 Twitter handles used by world leaders and their foreign ministers, with their tweets able to reach a combined audience of over 106 million followers.
According to an analysis of accounts, the heads of state of 125 countries and 139 other leading politicians have Twitter accounts that have between them sent more than 350,000 tweets and have almost 52 million followers. However, only 30 of these do their own tweeting, more than 80 do not subscribe to other politicians and many do not follow any accounts.
More than twenty Roman Catholic cardinals manage active Twitter accounts, nine of whom were cardinal electors for the 2013 Papal conclave.
Twitterbots are capable of influencing public opinion about culture, products and political agendas by automatically generating mass amounts of tweets through imitating human communication. The New York Times states, “They have sleep-wake cycles so their fakery is more convincing, making them less prone to repetitive patterns that flag them as mere programs”. The tweets generated vary anywhere from a simple automated response to content creation and information sharing, all of which depends on the intention of the person purchasing or creating the bot. The social implications these Twitterbots potentially have on human perception are sizeable according to a study published by the ScienceDirect Journal. Looking at the Computers as Social Actors (CASA) paradigm, the journal notes, “people exhibit remarkable social reactions to computers and other media, treating them as if they were real people or real places”. The study concluded that Twitterbots were viewed as credible and competent in communication and interaction making them suitable for transmitting information in the social media sphere. While the technological advances have enabled the ability of successful Human-Computer Interaction, the implications are questioned due to the appearance of both benign and malicious bots in the Twitter realm. Benign Twitterbots may generate creative content and relevant product updates whereas malicious bots can make unpopular people seem popular, push irrelevant products on users and spread misinformation, spam and/or slander.
In addition to content generating bots, users can purchase followers, favorites, retweets and comments on various websites that cater to expanding a users image through accumulation of followers. With more followers, users’ profiles gain more attention, thus increasing their popularity. Generating Web traffic is a valuable commodity for both individuals and businesses because it indicates notability. With Twitterbots, users are able to create the illusion of “buzz” on their site by obtaining followers from services such as Swenzy and underground suppliers who operate bot farms or click farms. The companies that facilitate this service create fake Twitter accounts that follow a number of people, some of these Twitter accounts may even post fake tweets to make it seem like they are real. This practice of obtaining mass amounts of twitterbots as followers is not permitted on Twitter. The emphasis on followers and likes as a measure of social capital has urged people to extend their circle to weak and latent ties to promote the idea of popularity for celebrities, politicians, musicians, public figures, and companies alike. According to the New York Times, bots amass significant influence and have been noted to sway elections, influence the stock market, public appeal, and attack governments.
After claims in the media that the hashtags #wikileaks and #occupywallstreet were being censored because they did not show up on the site’s list of trending topics, Twitter responded by stating that it does not censor hashtags unless they contain obscenities.
According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published in July 2014, the United Kingdom’s GCHQ has a tool named BIRDSONG for “automated posting of Twitter updates”, and a tool named BIRDSTRIKE for “Twitter monitoring and profile collection”.
Twitter is also increasingly used for making TV more interactive and social. This effect is sometimes referred to as the “virtual watercooler” or social television — the practice has been called “chatterboxing”. Twitter has been successfully used to encourage people to watch live TV events, such as the Oscars, the Super Bowl and the MTV Video Music Awards; however this strategy has proven less effective with regularly scheduled TV shows. Such direct cross-promotions have been banned from French television due to regulations against secret advertising.
In December 2012, Twitter and Nielsen entered a multi-year agreement to produce social TV ratings, which are expected to be commercially available for the fall 2013 season as the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating. Advertising Age said Twitter had become the new TV Guide. Then in February 2013, Twitter acquired Bluefin Labs for an estimated US$50 million to $100 million, which was the company’s largest acquisition as of 2013. Founded in 2008 at the MIT Media Lab, Bluefin is a data miner whose analysis tells which brands (e.g., TV shows and companies) are chatted about the most in social media. MIT Technology Review said that Bluefin gives Twitter part of the US$72 billion television advertising market.
In April 2013, the Associated Press’ Twitter account was briefly hacked into, sending out a message that US president Barack Obama had been injured in an attack on the White House. Stocks lost $134 billion in value almost instantly, before recovering in value when it was discovered the report was false.
In May 2013, it launched Twitter Amplify – an advertising product for media and consumer brands. With Amplify, Twitter runs video highlights from major live broadcasts, with advertisers’ names and messages playing before the clip. Then in October 2013, Comcast announced a partnership with NBCUniversal and Twitter, to allow users to tune into live streaming from their set-top box, smartphone or tablet by tapping a ‘See It’ button embedded in selected tweets.
in an attempt to compete with Twitter’s leadership in TV, Facebook introduced a number of features in 2013 to drive conversation around TV including hashtags, verified profiles and embeddable posts. It also opened up new data visualization APIs for TV news and other media outlets, enabling them to search for a word and see a firehose of public posts that mention it as well as show how many people mentioned a word in both public and private posts during a set time frame, with a demographic breakdown of the age, gender, and location of these people. In January 2014, Facebook announced a partnership with UK-based social TV analytics company SecondSync which saw the social network make its social TV available outside the company for the first time. Facebook struck the partnership to help marketers understand how people are using the social network to talk about topics such as TV. However, Twitter responded by acquiring SecondSync and Parisian social TV firm Mesagraph three months later. These acquisitions, as well as a partnership with research company Kantar (which it had been working with to develop a suite of analytics tools for the British TV industry since August 2013) strengthened Twitter’s dominance of the “second screen” – TV viewers using tablets and smartphones to share their TV experience on social media. With the additional analytic tools, Twitter was able to improve the firm’s offering to advertisers, allowing them to, for instance, only promote a tweet onto the timelines of users who were watching a certain programme.
By February 2014, all four major U.S. TV networks had signed up to the Amplify program, bringing a variety of premium TV content onto the social platform in the form of in-tweet real-time video clips. In March 2014, ITV became the first major broadcaster in the UK to sign up to Twitter Amplify and Twitter introduced one-tap video playback across its mobile apps to further enhance the consumer experience.
In June 2014, Twitter acquired its Twitter Amplify partner in the U.S., SnappyTV, as part of its ongoing efforts to be the leader in social television. The company was helping broadcasters and rights holders to share video content both organically across social and via Twitter’s Amplify program. In Europe Twitter’s Amplify partner is London-based Grabyo, which has also struck numerous deals with broadcasters and rights holders to share video content across Facebook and Twitter.
As of May 21, 2014, the Twitter accounts with the most followers were:
The oldest Twitter accounts are 14 accounts which became active on 21 March 2006, all belonging to Twitter employees at the time and including @jack (Jack Dorsey), @biz (Biz Stone) and @noah (Noah Glass).
On February 3, 2013, Twitter announced that a record 24.1 million tweets were sent the night of Super Bowl XLVII.
A selfie orchestrated by 86th Academy Awards host Ellen DeGeneres during the March 2, 2014 broadcast is the most retweeted image ever. DeGeneres said she wanted to homage Meryl Streep’s record 17 Oscar nominations by setting a new record with her, and invited other Oscar celebrities to join them. The resulting photo of twelve celebrities broke the previous retweet record within forty minutes, and was retweeted over 1.8 million times in the first hour. By the end of the ceremony it had been retweeted over 2 million times, less than 24 hours later, it had been retweeted over 2.8 million times. As of 18 March 2014[update], it has been retweeted over 3.4 million times. The group selfie effort was parodied by Lego, and Matt Groening with The Simpsons. It beat the previous record, 778,801, which was held by Barack Obama, following his victory in the 2012 presidential election.
The most tweeted moment in the history of Twitter was during the airing of Castle in the Sky on August 2, 2013, when fans tweeted the word “balse” at the exact time that it played in the movie. There was a global peak of 143,199 tweets in one second, beating the previous record of 33,388.
Twitter emphasized its news and information-network strategy in November 2009 by changing the question asked to users for status updates from “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?” On November 22, 2010, Biz Stone, a cofounder of the company, expressed for the first time the idea of a Twitter news network, a concept of a wire-like news service he has been working on for years.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Investigators say that flaws in the design of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota may have caused it to collapse and that the design flaw is not “unique” to the Minneapolis bridge.
According to an ongoing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the flaw was found in the steel plates connected to girders, which are large support beams used in construction and connect the plates together. It is reported that extra stress from construction equipment might have caused the plates to separate, causing the bridge to collapse.
The flaw has not yet been confirmed to be the source of the disaster, and the NTSB says that the investigation could take several months to fully be completed.
At least six people were killed and at least eight are missing, whilst over 100 are injured after the bridge collapsed on August 1.