Apr 13, 2009 | 3
When computer programmers find security flaws in the programs they use (particularly software running on the Web), they have a choice: report the glitch to the software maker (which may ignore the warning) or find some way of publicly (and often illegally) exploiting it to make clear to the company how vulnerable its software is. A 17-year-old hacker claiming to be from Brooklyn, N.Y., this past weekend chose the latter path, unleashing at least two worms after discovering a weak spot in the social network site Twitter; the worms wended their way into a reported 190 user accounts and infected about 10,000 tweets (messages sent via the Twitter network), the company said yesterday.
Feb 13, 2009 | 7
Just who's using Twitter, and to what end? We're about to tell you, but the answer takes more than 140 characters — the limit for tweets.
Some 11 percent of U.S. adults who use the Internet also send status updates on Twitter, a three-year-old "communications protocol" that allows users to blast small bursts of info to their followers and friends, according to new data by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Status updating is most common among young adults: 20 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds use Twitter, as do slightly fewer 18-to-24-year-olds. The results are based on a telephone survey of 2,253 adults.
Twitter, Yammer, Facebook and other micro-blogging platforms might be seen as just another way to self-promote. But more recently they've become journalism tools: reporters including those at ScientificAmerican.com use Twitter as a dedicated newsfeed to keep up with the competition (and, of course, to let colleagues and fans know about their latest stories — we're at http://twitter.com/sciam). We also use Twitter to keep up with our readers, and to solicit ideas from them — to great success during last month's perigee moon. In other instances, non-media people are using it to "report," as well, even if they don’t think of themselves as journalists: a photo of Flight 1549 that crashed in the Hudson River last month instantly became iconic after Janis Krum sent it out over his Twitter feed. On Wednesday, the ShortyAwards honored the most talented Tweeple (or, some might say, Twits), including the Mars Phoenix, which tweeted its demise from the Red Planet.
Jan 26, 2009 | 6
Always the last one picked for kickball? Never get invites to the hottest parties? Blame Mom and Dad.
That's right, a new study says genes may influence whether or not you're popular. But DNA, or genetic material, shapes more than popularity, according to the research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It may also play a role in the number of friends we have—and whether we're integral or insignificant members of a social group.
Researchers from Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego, found that genes may be responsible for 46 percent of the variation (or difference) in how popular we are versus other people. Genetics exerts a similar effect on people's varying degrees of connectivity (for example, one person might know many of their friends' pals, but another person may not know any of their friends' other buddies.) And DNA has a significant, but lesser influence, on the difference between where one or another of us is located in a social network.
Jan 16, 2009 | 6
Facebook is no longer friends with Burger King, which it charges improperly used the site to pump up biz by offering users a free Whopper sandwich if they dumped 10 of their pals on the social-networking site.
Facebook says it didn’t remove the Whopper Sacrifice from its site, but told developers to make it more discreet. "We encourage creativity from developers and companies using Facebook Platform, but we also must ensure that applications meet users' expectations," a Facebook spokesperson told the blog Inside Facebook.
Jan 9, 2009 | 7
Back in 2001, long before Facebook made online social networking an obsession, the writer Lucinda Rosenfeld asked a poignant question: How do you dump a friend?
Facebook, of course, has made that dilemma oh so much more complicated, and yet simpler, to solve. Yes, we can “de-friend” our ex-buds with the click of a button, but deleting someone in our online network carries existential baggage – questions like, why did I ever become Facebook friends with this person in the first place?
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