Category Archives: microsharing

Twitter opens analytics platform to public [TL/DR: images get more engagement]

I briefly logged into Twitter’s free analytics service again today, prompted by a conversation on (you guessed it) Twitter about the demographics of an account’s followers and the news that it was now open to all.

Today, any Twitter user can log in and access the online dashboard and see what Twitter says about how people are interacting with your tweets, among other insights.

I was glad to see that dashboard is definitely working better now than when Twitter first gave me partial access. (I could see follower demographics but not impressions). I know that some people may see these stats as fake-ish numbers, but I wish Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, Instagram & Google+ offered similar free dashboards for their users — certainly, it would be great if Facebook did for people who turned on the Follow feature.

What did I learn?

digiphile-Twitter-follower-demographics-august-2014First, looking at the highest impression number (155,000 impressions on this tweet) I was reminded that the concept of “free speech zones” remains controversial in the United States, and that tweeting about them can result in a different kind “engagements” than RTs or Favorites: angry @replies from lots of strangers.

This is particularly true if combined with a journalist embroiled in controversy over a misidentification of ammunition and the #Ferguson hashtag.

Second, the gender numbers in the demographics of my followers continues to be heavily skewed toward men (81% vs 19%), a situation that has endured more or less ever since the beginning of 2010, when Twitter began recommending me to new users in its technology vertical.

I invite and welcome any and all women who like to follow me to do so here, if you’re interested in the sorts of things I tweet about, just as I do on Facebook or other social networks.

digiphile-engagement-twitter-august-2014Finally, what Twitter Media and News staff had already told people who are listening is backed up by what they’re showing me: including pictures, maps and graphics in your tweets will raises your “engagement” numbers, at least as measured by people resharing tweets, favoriting them, @mentioning or @replying to them.

I’ve intentionally done that more over the latter half of August, and it shows up in the data.

It takes longer to find the right image for a tweet but the effort can pay off.

Adding that to the process reminds me of how I described Twitter back in 2008: a distributed microblogging platform.

While a few tweets may still be produced and received as simple, humble text messages, as in 2006, many more are much more complicated, and have been for some time.

Back in 2010, the map of a tweet already looked like this under the hood, with some 30 lines of meta data.

raffi-anatomy-of-a-tweet

Years later, updates to the platform are much more complex, with integrated cards, videos and pictures. As Twitter rolls out e-commerce from within tweets, I wonder if better dashboards for sales, subscriptions and other conversions might be on the way for the social media company’s customers, if not, perhaps, all of its users.

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Reflections on online cruelty and kindness

This morning, I read an interesting reflection on dealing with online cruelty in the New York Times by Stephanie Rosenbloom:

In the virtual world, anonymity and invisibility help us feel uninhibited. Some people are inspired to behave with greater kindness; others unleash their dark side. Trolls, who some researchers think could be mentally unbalanced, say the kinds of things that do not warrant deep introspection; their singular goal is to elicit pain. But then there are those people whose comments, while nasty, present an opportunity to learn something about ourselves.

Easier said than done. Social scientists say we tend to fixate on the negative. However, there are ways to game psychological realities. Doing so requires understanding that you are ultimately in charge. “Nobody makes you feel anything,” said Professor Suler, adding that you are responsible for how you interpret and react to negative comments. The key is managing what psychologists refer to as involuntary attention.

When I checked her reference, I found that Rosenbloom made an error with her citation of research, along with failing to link to it: the 2011 report on teens, kindness and cruelty on social networking sites by the Pew Research’s Internet and Life Project she cited found that a vast majority of young people (88%) had “seen someone be mean or cruel to another person on a social network site,” not 69%. That percentage refers to a happier statistic: “69% of social media-using teens think that peers are mostly kind to each other on social network sites.

On that count, I’m glad the author chose to end with a reflection on kindness and the psychology involved with focusing on positive comments and compliments, as opposed to the negative ones. Anyone who wants to see how a positive feedback loop works should look at how Justin Levy’s friends & networks are supporting him, or how dozens and dozens of friends, family and strangers supported me when I lost my beloved greyhound this week.

I’m not sure about the New York Times editor’s summary — that the “Web encourages bad behavior,” through anonymity and lack of consequences.

I think that what we see online reflects what humans are, as a mirror, and that what we see on social media (which is really what is discussed here, not the World Wide Web) is 
1) a function of what the platforms allow, with respect to the architecture of participation, and
2) what the community norms established there are.

Compare newspapers’ online comments, YouTube comments and Twitter to what you find in the comments at Ars Technica, BoingBoing or even, dare I say it, in the blogs or public profiles I moderate. As Anil Dash has observed, the people who create and maintain online forums and platforms bear responsibility for what happens there:

It’s a surprisingly delicate balance to allow robust debate and disagreement on politics, current events, technology choices, or even sports (hello, tribalism) while guiding conversations away from cruelty, anger, or even hatred, whether we lead a classroom or an online discussion. The comments we allow to stand offline or online largely determine the culture of the class, town hall or thread they’re made within:

While people bear always responsibility for their own cruel actions or words, it’s incumbent upon those of us who host conversations or share our thoughts publicly online to try to respond with empathy, kindness and understanding where we can, and with polite but resolute moderation when others do not respond to those tactics or attack our friends and communities.

[IMAGE SOURCE: Amanda Lenhart, Pew Research Center]

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4 tips for social media optimization on Facebook from Robert Scoble

SocialMediaNews1 (1)

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen has been trying to trick Facebook’s algorithm by starting his updates with “You guys! Exciting personal news: I’m moving to New York!” and “Big news in my personal life. I’m engaged!” and “I have some exciting personal news. A new job!”

What Rosen is experimenting with here is social media optimization (SMO), or the art and science of getting your updates seen on Facebook and other platforms. In 2014, SMO is still something of a dark art, but in an age when people are using social media to discover news, getting seen there is now as important to media, marketers and public officials who want to find immense audiences online as search engine optimization has become over the past decade.

Without this hack, Rosen says, “Facebook won’t show my posts to nearly all my subscribers.”

When they are shown, they get good engagement. The hack puts them in front of people who never received a thing from me, despite subscribing to me.

Robert [Scoble] is convinced that’s because I used some humor and sounded like a person. But it isn’t. It’s because I used some idiot phrases (“exciting personal news”) the algorithm responds to. That gives my posts a chance to be seen. When they are seen people engage with them. When people engage with them they are seen by more people.

Robert [Scoble] and Dave [Winer] are telling me it won’t work for long and I am sure that’s true. Meanwhile, I have many people telling me they never saw my posts and now they do.

Rosen’s tactic prompted Rackspace’s startup liason officer, Robert Scoble, a power user of social media platforms, to make several suggestions for crafting Facebook updates that get seen in the newsfeed. Here’s a short, paraphrased summary of those tips, courtesy of Robert Scoble’s comments on an update in Rosen’s feed.

1) Short, one paragraph updates often get more engagement than updates with a photo.

2) One photo in an update often gets more engagement than an update with multiple photos.

3) Including a call to action with a URL like “Click here for insight on open government, technology and society: http://e-pluribusunum.com” in an update leads to 80% more clicks.

4) Sort your friends into lists and then remove friends who don’t engage from those lists. (This is different from unfriending them.)

I’m both personally and professionally interested in this advice: I have 129,000 subscribers to my public Facebook updates but am quite certain that the vast majority never see what they subscribed to when they clicked the “Like” button. While the rare Facebook update blows up, many are just never seen.

Questions for you:

1) Have you tried these techniques? If so, what came of it?

2) What other SMO tips do you use?

3) Do you use Facebook lists?

Two cautionary notes

First, just as blackhat SEO leads Google to penalize people for gimmicks, Facebook could flag pages and profiles that overuse them, leading to account issues.

Second, marketers, social journalists and community managers that find success with SMO experiments should take note of a recent Pew Research Center survey on social media and the news, the source of the graphics on this page, which found that “visitors who come to a news site through Facebook or search display have far lower engagement with that outlet than those who come to that news website directly.” That means that SMO doesn’t replace SEO for publishers, or the need to create great stories and interactive content that stands on its own.

SocialMediaNews8

Finally, it’s worth noting that social networks are full of people. Ultimately, the best way to “optimize” your interactions on Facebook or elsewhere is to be a human, not a marketer. Meaningfully communicating with other humans is going to require a different strategy than crafting headlines and URLs that highly relevant to search engines.

Hat Tip: Post by Jay Rosen.

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White House goes direct on Instagram in advance of “Zillow Town Hall”

Tomorrow, President Barack Obama will be answering questions about housing during a live event with Zillow. Today, President Obama went directly to Instagram to ask the American people for questions about housing.

obama-instagram

In some ways, this is old hat. The source for the questions, after all, is the same as it has been many times over the past five years: social media. As I commented on Tumblr, five years into this administration, it would be easy to let these sorts of new media milestones at the White House go unremarked. That would be a mistake.

The novelty in the event tomorrow lies in two factors:

1) The White House is encouraging people to ask the president questions using the #AskObamaHousing hashtag on Twitter, Zillow’s Facebook page or with their own “instavideo” on Instagram.

2) It’s being hosted by Yahoo! and Zillow, a online real estate market place that has been a prominent supporter of the administration’s open data efforts.

As for Tuesday at 5:50 PM ET, there were only around a dozen videos tagged with #AskObamaHousing on Instagram, so if you have a good one, the odds are (relatively) decent for it to be posed. (Twitter, by contrast, is much livelier.)

Such informal, atomized mobile videos are now a growing part of the landscape for government and technology, particularly in an age when the people formerly known as the audience have more options to tune in or tune out of broadcast programming. If the White House is looking to engage younger Americans in a conversation about, Instagram is an obvious place to turn.

Today, politicians and government officials need to go where the People are. Delivering effective answers to their questions regarding affordable housing in a tough economy will be harder, however, than filming a 15 second short.

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Checking into Foursquare’s Time Machine

This data visualization below traces the data contrails that I’ve left around the District of Columbia over the past four years.

foursquare-the-next-big-thing

Foursquare’s Time Machine is a lovely reminder that the stories we can tell with data.

The infographic above, generated by Foursquare crunching 887 of my checkins, represents a life of work, travel and recreation. It’s one, however, that’s wholly created by my intention, as opposed to constant logging of my movements, intentions or experiences.

The map above isn’t even close to a complete snapshot of who I am, or even all of my Foursquare checkins. (I’ve checked in from Europe, Africa, South America and all around the USA.)

I’m quite happy about that, to be honest. There’s so much that exists in the spaces between these shared vignettes that I prefer to keep to myself, friends, family, colleagues or sources.

That said, thank you for the trip back through time, Foursquare.

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In defense of Twitter’s role as a social media watchdog

Mike Rosenwald is concerned that overzealous critics will make Twitter boring.

twitter is ruining

Rosenwald, who has distinguished himself in articles and excellent enterprise reporting at the Washington Post, appears to have strayed into a well-trodden cul de sac of social media criticism.

Writing in the Post, he quotes from series of sources and highlights a couple of Twitter users to arrive at a grand thesis: online mobs taking tweets out of context could chill speech. Rosenwald’s point was amplified by Politico chief economic correspondent Ben White, whose tweet is embedded below:

When I went to grab the embed code for the tweet above, however, I found something curious: I couldn’t generate it. Why? After I strongly but politely challenged White’s point twice on Twitter, he’d blocked me.

Here’s what I said: I am disappointed that the democratization of publishing and speech continues to be resented by the press. Celebrities, media and politicians will be criticized online by the public for inaccuracy and bias. It’s not 1950 anymore. And for that, a journalist blocked me.

Irony aside, I wish White hadn’t taken the nuclear option. I’m no absolutist: when George Packer slammed Twitter 3 years ago, I suggested that he take another look at what was happening there:

Twitter, like so many other things, is what you make of it. Some might go to a cocktail party and talk about fashion, who kissed whom, where the next hot bar is or any number of other superficial topics. Others might hone in on politics, news, technology, media, art, philosophy or any of the other subjects that the New Yorker covers. If you search and listen, it’s not hard to find others sharing news and opinion that’s relevant to your own interests.

Using intelligent filters for information, it’s quite easy to subscribe and digest them at leisure. And it’s as easy as unfollowing someone to winnow out “babble” or a steady stream of mundanity. The impression that one is forced to listen to pabulum, as if obligated to sit through a dreary dinner party or interminable plane ride next to a boring boor, is far from the reality of the actual experience of Twitter or elsewhere.

Packer clearly read my post but didn’t link or reply to it.

Given his public persona, I suspect Rosenwald will be much more open to criticism than Packer or White have proven to be, although I see he hasn’t waded into the vitriolic comments on his story at the Washington Post, which slam Twitter or the article — or both. Here’s what I’ve seen other journalists and Twitter users tweet about the piece:

For my part, I tend to lean towards more speech, not less. Twitter has given millions of people a voice around the world, including the capacity to scrutinize the tweets of members of the media for inaccuracy, bias or ignorance.

That’s not to say that a networked public can’t turn to an online mob and engage in online vigilantism, but the causality that Politico chief White House correspondent Mike Allen trumpeted regarding Twitter use in yesterday’s Playbook was painful to read on Saturday morning.

Twitter makes people online vigilantes? Come on. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and other social media platforms have taken nearly all of the friction out of commenting on public affairs but it’s up to people to decide what to do with them.

As we’ve seen during natural disasters and revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa, including protests in Turkey this weekend, an increasingly networked public is now acting as reporters and sensors wherever and whenever they are connected, creating an ad hoc system of accountability for governments and filling the gaps where mainstream media outlets are censored or fear to tread.

That emergence still strikes me as positive, on balance, and while I acknowledge the point that White and the sources that Rosenwald quotes make about the potential for self-censorship, I vastly prefer the communications systems of today to the one-to-many broadcasts from last century. If you feel differently, comments — and Twitter — are open.

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Jake Tapper honors veterans with a #MemorialMessage

CNN anchor Jake Tapper has long been adept with online media, going back to his work at Salon.com. On the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, Tapper showed how powerful a platform Twitter can be for collective remembrance when he catalyzed an outpouring of family memories from his followers.
  1. Tapper introduced the premise to his followers with a single tweet, sharing a hashtag, #MemorialMesssage, to organize the replies and modeling the response himself.
  2. Our hashtag game today is for those who serve. Send us your Memorial Day message. Mine? Thank you. We will not forget. Use #MemorialMessage
  3. Tapper received just one reply, at first.
  4. @jaketapper #MemorialMessage Remembering Captain Jeb Franklin Seagle a dear friend and hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in Grenada.
  5. Then he came back to Twitter, and shared more personal remembrances of those who served.
  6. This Memorial Day weekend i’ll be thinking about fallen heroes such as Lt. Col. Joe Fenty, Lt. Ben Keating, and Capt. Tom Bostick.
  7. RIP heroes of COP Keating: Kevin Thomson, Justin Gallegos, Chris Griffin, Michael Scusa, Vernon Martin, Stephan Mace, Josh Kirk, Josh Hardt.
  8. RIP this Memorial Day to Captain Robert Yllescas.
  9. Another fallen soldier I will be thinking about this weekend, PFC Chris Pfeifer projects.militarytimes.com/valor/army-pfc…
  10. And Pfc. Brian Moquin, who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2006 projects.militarytimes.com/valor/army-pfc…
  11. And SSG Ryan Fritsche sites.google.com/site/wryanfrit…
  12. And SGT Buddy Hughie projects.militarytimes.com/valor/army-sgt…
  13. More of his followers began chiming in — and Tapper began retweeting their memories of fallen service members to his more than 1 million followers
  14. @jaketapper CPL Robert Taylor McDavid KIA March 10, 2008. OIF. My brother-in-law.
  15. @jaketapper I’ll remember CTO2 Steve TESMER the sole operator type on board the EC121 shot down by NK in 68. my room mate and friend
  16. @jaketapper My daddy 1SGT Robert Scholz Died 2/7/2010 Served Vietnam and Korea twice each. Not in action but served our country for 20 yrs.
  17. @jaketapper Remembering Maj Charles Creech who passed away 2yrs. Ago after a distinguished career flying for the US Air Force. Dear friend!
  18. @jaketapper My great-uncle, MAJ Stanley Holmes, US Army, POW in Philippines during WWII, killed aboard the hellship Oryoku Maru, 12-15-44
  19. Thank you to my late grandfathers John A Petersen, Harry Gabbard #wwiiVets #memorialmessage @jaketapper
  20. @jaketapper CPT David Boris … Commander, A TRP 1/91 CAV, 12 Nov 2007
  21. .@jaketapper My wife’s bro, @USArmy Cpt Shane Mahaffee passed in ’06. 4 mournful Mondays in a row: death, burial, Memorial Day, b’day. #hero
  22. @jaketapper My Uncle, Maj. Kenneth P. Tanner. Killed In Vietnam in last major battle, Operation Ripcord. Left 4 children behind.
  23. .@jaketapper I’m remembering LT John Valek, USN. Served ’38-’52 – WW2/Korea. Survived the sinking of the USS Wasp in ’42. Passed in 2000 RIP
  24. @jaketapper Two Flight School classmates. ENS Ryan Anthony USN, LTJG Robert Roch, USN. Great friends.
  25. @jaketapper Sgt. Josh Madden, December 6, 2006, Hawija, Iraq.
  26. @jaketapper SSG Lillian Clamens. Saddest one I ever encountered. She was leaving the next day. 10/10/07 projects.militarytimes.com/valor/army-sta…
  27. @jaketapper I’m remembering my grandfather, Raymond Sanfilippo, who served on the USS Lake Champlain during WWII. #MemorialDayHeroes
  28. @jaketapper My Dad, Sgt William Lieder, served in US Army & Navy. Saw action in Korean War. Said he never should have left service, loved it
  29. @jaketapper Remembering Jerry Zovko. Killed in Fallujah. Still angry.
  30. @jaketapper RIP Jack Thurston-Bataan Death March survivor POW til MacArthur liberated-renaissance man from Corbin,KY #memorialmessage
  31. @jaketapper #memorialmessage Remembering my late Grandfather Edward and late Uncle Ricky; Ed – WWII, Marine Corps. Ricky – Korea, Air Force
  32. @jaketapper My father, SFC. Benjamin Davis Sr. US Army. 30yrs. WW2 Vietnam
  33. @jaketapper Specialist Theodore Matthew Glende – K.I.A. July 27, 2012 in Afghanistan. (23 years old. Husband of my best friend.)
  34. @jaketapper CPL Pruitt Rainey, 173rd ABCT, Chosen Company. One of 9 US KIA 7/13/08 at the Battle of Wanat. #ChosenFew
  35. @jaketapper my bro 1stLT Travis Manion USMC and his best friend SEAL Brendan Looney. Buried next to each other in Arlington. @TMFoundation
  36. @jaketapper My grandfather: Lt. Col. LeRoy Skaith. Passed in 1997. Bronze Stars WWII: Battle of Hurtgen Forest and Battle of the Bulge
  37. @jaketapper Uncle Al, 1st infantry division, Normandy, the Bulge, Germany
  38. @jaketapper My “Grandpop” Lt Walter Catanzarita. Wounded WWII, passed 1980.
  39. @jaketapper CIA Paramilitary Officer & former USMC Johnny Spann, KIA 11/25/01, Qala-I-Jangi, Afghan;1st KIA in country & a great guy. RIP
  40. @jaketapper RIP Jimmie “Sonny” Davis…Korean Conflict
  41. @jaketapper Remembering my great grandpa, Jesus Briseno – Navy – Pearl Harbor survivor. RIP.
  42. @jaketapper my grandfather, SSgt James Reynolds, 3rd US Army, Battle of the Bulge
  43. @jaketapper I’ll be remembering my friend, Capt Matthew Mattingly, Army 82nd Airborne, KIA in Iraq, 9/13/2006
  44. @jaketapper #memorialmessage remembering my CA grandpa, Captn (marines) WWII-Pacific & the brave woman he wrote love letters to back home.
  45. @jaketapper Remembering my Great Uncle, Salvatore Sanfilippo, Purple Heart recipient, Battle of the Bulge, WWII. #MemorialDayHeroes
  46. @jaketapper My Uncle Billy Knight, who died in ’82 from cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. Our memories are warm & vibrant.
  47. @jaketapper Spc Ross McGinnis, December, 4 2006 – Medal of Honor
  48. @jaketapper Remembering my dad. He was so proud to have served in the Navy in WW2. Love you, Daddy, and thank you. #MemorialMessage
  49. .@jaketapper Anthony Marangiello, Glen Cove, NY. Bataan Death March, WWII. Came back with the respect of all. #memorialday
  50. @jaketapper H.S. classmate Lance Cpl. Howard March killed in Iraq 9/24/06
  51. @jaketapper TY for sharing all these memories, very powerful. My late grandfather served in WW2. Father-in-law served in USN Korea(surgeon)
  52. @jaketapper Remembering my grandpa, James C. Evans – Navy – Pearl Harbor survivor. #memorialday
  53. @jaketapper RIP my grandpa Robert W. English. Navy. Battle of Midway survivor. 1918-2013
  54. @jaketapper CW4 Phil Garvey died flying a rescue mission that wasn’t supposed to be his.He volunteered so pilots w young kids didn’t have to
  55. @jaketapper remembering my Pappy: James I “Jack” Martin. Combat Medic, US Army WWII – Pelilieu and other hot rocks. Never talked about it.
  56. @jaketapper : I honor Lance Cpl Bob W. Roberts. Died OIF Fallujah. May 2004. Childhood friend.
  57. @jaketapper I #GoSilent for SSG Christopher Cutchall, KIA Baghdad Sept 2003. Best scout, wonderful father, husband, & friend ever.
  58. I’m remembering my grandpa, Carl Conrad, Army, WWII, both Pacific & European Theatres. @JakeTapper pic.twitter.com/CC9VJmgAK3
  59. @jaketapper Cpl George Anthony “Tony” Lutz II, killed December 29, 2005, 6 weeks into his first deployment.
  60. @jaketapper my great uncle Leslie Fleming 200th Coast Artillery. Survivor of the Bataan Death March.
  61. @jaketapper in memory of my grandfather, Hugo Smith, survived the Battle of the Bulge
  62. @jaketapper Remembering my grandmother Rifka Frank, Yeoman First class, enlisted May 1, 1918 WWI. 1900-1986.
  63. @jaketapper My dad – Army Air Corps Flight Engineer – China, Burma, India WWII. I still wear his wings as a bracelet. He died in 1990
  64. @jaketapper My mom Sgt. Ellen Shanahan, Women’s Army Corp, WWII. Very proud of her service.
  65. @jaketapper my dad, CWO Hank Meadows, Headquarters Company, 8th Air Force, Bushy Park, London, England
  66. @jaketapper remembering my father, Stanley Caplan, WWII 1922-2011
  67. @jaketapper : CPL Wesley Wells, 2-27th Infantry USA Libertyville,IL KIA Naka, Afghanistan 09/04 #memorialmessage
  68. @jaketapper Remembering my dad, Leslie N Webster, served in WWII with 535th Engineers building bridges. Miss you Dad.
  69. @jaketapper my father PFC John T Henley WW2 Mindinao Philippines. Henley Wilson Merrills marauders
  70. @jaketapper Remembering both my papaws & hubby’s grandad-all served our country. Grateful 4 & blessed because of their service @JustinDOwen
  71. At the end of that outpouring, Tapper signed off and suggested that his followers use the hashtag if they continue to share memories, sustaining the distributed conversation he’d sparked and empowered.
  72. Signing off now tweeps… Use #MemorialMessage if you tweet more remembrances so we can all follow by clicking on the hashtag… God bless
  73. And they did:
  74. @jaketapper #MemorialMessage thinking of Patrick V. Needham, #USArmy in Korea, 31 yrs #ChicagoPolice, passed away 1984, too young.
  75. @jaketapper Miss WWII dad; taught us 2 “police the area” -clean the yard & sing Army songs(Dirty Bill lived on Garbage Hill)#MemorialMessage
  76. This was one of the best uses of Twitter I’ve seen this year. Well done, Mr. Tapper.

    And thanks to all those who have served and sacrificed.

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