How to Stop Social Media From Taking Over Your Life

 

In this day and age, it’s hard to live a full life without logging onto Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram every now and then. The problem is that they can become a huge waste of time.

There are a couple of easy ways to prevent yourself from squandering hours looking at cat photos. Here’s how you can tighten up your social networking by several notches. There’s also one surefire way to prevent social media from ruining your life: delete everything. More on that in a second.

Turn Off Push Notifications (or uninstall your mobile apps)

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You might be surprised at how much control you have over the notifications pushed out by the social media apps on your phone. Take Facebook, for example. Head to notification settings and you can turn alerts on or off for wall posts, comments, friend requests, photo tags, photo invitations, messages, and more.

The next time you’ve got five minutes spare at lunchtime, rather than aimlessly scrolling through your feeds, cut down on the notifications these apps are allowed to send, which should cut down on the number of times they pull you into their reach.
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Amazon May Face Heat From Margins, Competition

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After a breakout 2015, is Amazon(AMZN) losing its luster? While its stock price is likely to tick higher, narrowing margins could weigh on investors, analysts told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Monday.

At $593.19, shares of the tech-driven retailer are 12 percent lower so far this year after a January earnings reportsent the stock tumbling. Now the company’s dominance in cloud computing is facing more competition as industry laggard Google (GOOGL) poaches customers.

Raymond James internet analyst Aaron Kessler downgraded the stock last month, calling for a price target of $655, down from more than $700.

“We’re still positive, but I would say we see the pace of margin expansion to slow,” Kessler said Monday.

While Amazon’s disruption of the retail and cloud space has been “phenomenal,” there are concerns, said Bob Peck, internet equity analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, who has a price target of $600 on the stock.

“[Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos has recently given you several quarters of margin expansion, letting it flow to the bottom line,” Peck said. “Investors love to see that. If you look back historically, he then tends to reinvest … you’ll see margins under pressure as we go forward here.”

Peck values Amazon’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services, at $100 billion and said his research shows that the business is positioned well in spite of competition. Still, Google and Facebook (FB) are Peck’s top stock picks in the internet sector, while Kessler recently upgraded Twitter (TWTR).

Amazon did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

“[Amazon is] going to see a little more competition on the AWS side, so I think just the perception of more competition could be a concern,” Kessler said.

Written by Anita Balakrishnan of CNBC

(Source: MSN)

Twitter Shuts Down 125,000 Terrorist Accounts

Provided by CNBC

Twitter (TWTR) is providing new detail Friday about its efforts to fight ISIS and violent extremism online. In a tweet from the company’s “@Policy” team, the social media company said it has stepped up its fight against violent extremism online. Since the middle of 2015, the company said, it has suspended over 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist attacks — primarily related to support for ISIS.

That’s the first time Twitter has revealed the scale of terrorist related activity on its service. The Brookings Institution estimated in a report last year that there were at least 46,000 Twitter accounts used by ISIS supporters. The new figure revealed by Twitter would suggest that either ISIS has drastically increased its presence on the service since that year, or that Twitter has gotten more effective in identifying terrorist accounts.

The company also said that it has increased the size of teams that review reports of terrorist activity on Twitter, and it has reduced its response time to those reports. The company said it looks into accounts similar to the ones reported, and leverages proprietary spam fighting tools to find other potential terrorist accounts. “We have already seen results, including an increase in account suspensions and this type of activity shifting off of Twitter,” the company said.

Twitter’s announcement follows a controversy over the role of social media in the lives of the apparently ISIS inspired team that killed 14 people in an attack in San Bernardino, California, in December. Ultimately, the FBI said that the husband and wife terror team did not post pro-jihad sentiments publicly on social media before the attack, but sent them in private message communications.

Nonetheless, the fact that an attack had taken place refocused the public debate on what government and corporate leaders can do to spot potential threats in advance and stop online recruitment by ISIS.

Since the Edward Snowden disclosures of NSA spying, relations between the tech sector and the Federal intelligence community have been strained. But on Friday, Twitter cited praise for the company in July from FBI Director James Comey for its help in trying to shut down terrorism related accounts.

Twitter also discussed partnerships it has established with non-governmental organizations to counter violent extremism, including affiliations with People Against Violent Extremism and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

In its March, 2015 report, the Brookings Institution report by J.M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan offered a number of insights into the typical ISIS supporter on social media:

— Almost one in five ISIS supporters selected English as their primary language when using Twitter.

— ISIS-supporting accounts had an average of about 1,000 followers each, considerably higher than an ordinary Twitter user.

— Much of ISIS’s social media success can be attributed to a relatively small group of hyperactive users, numbering between 500 and 2,000 accounts.

— Account suspensions do have concrete effects in limiting the reach and scope of ISIS activities on social media. They do not, at the current level of implementation, eliminate those activities, and cannot be expected to do this.

Written by Eamon Javers of CNBC

(Source: MSN)

Twitter Has 412 Years in Cash to Fix Itself

Twitter logo
Provided by AP

Twitter’s (TWTR) stock is crashing. Management is in upheaval. But the micro blogging site has one giant thing going for it — $3.5 billion in cash — which buys it lots of time.

Shares of Twitter are down 65 cents, or 3.6%, to $17.19 Monday after CEO Jack Dorsey said four top executives were leaving the company. The stock is now down 68% from its highest point over the past 52-weeks and off 55% over the past year. The stock is indicating a serious situation for the company.

Investors seem to be preparing for the worst — but the company’s financial standing indicates it has plenty of time to get things right: 412 years to be exact. Twitter — like many of the most valuable recent technology initial public offerings — has a giant advantage: Cash. And lots of it. The company ended its most recently reported quarter with $3.5 billion in cash and investments, says S&P Capital IQ. If the company only burns $8.5 million a year in free cash — as it did the past 12 months — that’s enough cash to last 412 years.

That’s a long time for Dorsey to figure things out. It is important to note that Twitter does have $1.4 billion in long-term debt. But the servicing of that debt is already included in the company’s free cash flow. Debt could cause issues, though, if the company’s interest rate is driven higher when if it looks to refinance in the future.

Twitter is the best example of recent technology and consumer electronics companies with the deep pockets to endure a serious market disruption. Twitter is one of the 39 cash-burning tech and consumer electronics companies that went public the past five years that also have two years or more of cash and investments based on their free cash flow over the past 12 months. Another 65 tech companies that went public the past five years generate free cash flow. There were 113 tech and consumer electronics companies that sold shares to the public over the past five years.

The financial situation shows the interesting disconnect between disastrous stock prices — and the relative strength of the company’s cash reserves. Online gaming company Zynga (ZNGA) is another example. Shares of Zynga are down 75% over the past five years — as investors lament the company’s uneven growth and perpetual losses. The company has burned $52 million over the past 12 months. But here’s the bright spot — the company ended its most recently reported period with nearly $1.1 billion in cash and investments. That would last 20 years at the current burn rate. That gives the company lots of time to find the next FarmVille.

Certainly, some of these companies could increase their burn rates which would reduce their dry powder. Some, too, could use up some of the cash to make acquisition, buy back stock or pay dividends. But with their cash reserves so full — you can see why  many aren’t breaking a sweat under their hoodies.

RECENT CASH-BURNING TECH AND CONSUMER ELECTRONICS IPOS WITH LARGEST CASH RESERVES RELATIVE TO FREE CASH FLOW *

Company, Symbol, Years of cash left, % ch. from hi (stock)

Twitter, TWTR, 412, -68%

Quotient Techology, QUOT, 264, -66%

FireEye, FEYE, 52, -73%

M/A-Com, MTSI, 36, -8.4%

Rapid7, RPD, 33, -50%

Source: S&P Capital IQ, USA TODAY

* Based on free cash flow

** IPOs over the past five years in tech and consumer electronics

Written by Mat Krantz of USA Today

(Source: USA Today)

Twitter Falls on Executive Exits as Turnaround Seen Delayed

Twitter stock
Provided by Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — Twitter Inc. fell after the company lost four members of its executive leadership team, including its product and engineering chiefs, signaling any attempts to boost growth at the struggling social media company will be delayed.

The quartet of executives, including product head Kevin Weil and head of engineering Alex Roetter, chose to leave the company and take some time off, Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said in a Twitter post. Twitter’s head of media, Katie Jacobs Stanton, and human resources vice president Brian “Skip” Schipper are also leaving the San Francisco-based company, Dorsey said.

The exodus comes as the company has failed to improve its site quickly enough to reverse a slowdown in user growth, according to people familiar with the matter. Weil had been interviewing for other jobs over the past few months, according to several other people with knowledge of his plans. Separately, Twitter will this week add two new board members to help guide it through its reorganization, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the information was private.

“We don’t see how the departure of the heads of three major business divisions can be viewed as a positive in the middle of an attempted business turnaround,” Scott Devitt, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. wrote in a note to clients. He downgraded his recommendation on the stock to hold.

Twitter declined 4.6 percent to $17.02 at the close in New York. The stock has lost about half of its value in the past 12 months and is the third-worst performer on the Russell 1000 Technology Index so far this year, after FireEye Inc. and Western Digital Corp.

Exit Spree

The company has been looking to add directors since appointing former Google Inc. executive Omid Kordestani as executive chairman in October.

The exits will be the first significant departures from the technology company since co-founder Dorsey returned last year as CEO. His predecessor Dick Costolo oversaw a slew of high-profile departures, including C-level executives and heads of product and engineering. Weil, for example, was Twitter’s fifth head of product in six years. The company also plans to announce the hire of a chief marketing officer soon, one of the people familiar said.

Re/Code said Leslie Berland, American Express’s executive vice president of global advertising, marketing and digital partnerships, may be named the new chief marketing officer of Twitter.

The San Francisco-based company is scheduled to report quarterly earnings on Feb. 10.

“While the company and others will likely position these departures and potential new hire announcements as providing a fresh start, at best — for investors — they likely delay the timetable of any turnaround” said Mark May, an analyst at Citigroup Global Markets, in a note to clients. “They reflect abnormally high turnover at Twitter since inception and represent the loss of what management, the board and some partners just recently highlighted as important pieces to the company’s turnaround.”

Dorsey’s plan for getting Twitter out of a growth slump depends on enhancing the product, making it easier for people to use and less intimidating for newcomers to the social-media service known for its 140-character limit. The company has made several bold changes, including adding a Moments section to compile the best tweets about breaking news events on the site.

Intimidating

The departures of Roetter and Weil increase the burden on Dorsey, who is also CEO at Square Inc., an electronic payments company.

Chief Operating Officer Adam Bain will take over Twitter’s revenue-related product and media teams and run HR in the interim, Dorsey said. Chief Technology Officer Adam Messinger will take over all engineering and consumer product, design and research.

Weil, who has overseen Twitter’s product improvements since late 2014, has been in conversations with venture capital firms, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, for a job for the last several months, though hasn’t secured a position, according to the people. Jason Toff, the head of the video-sharing application Vine, is also leaving the company and joining Google Inc. to work on virtual reality, he said in his own Twitter post.

Written Sarah Frier of Bloomberg

(Source: Bloomberg)

College Student Blames Parents After She Blows $90G College Fund

Provided by 401(K) 2012/Pixabay
Provided by 401(K) 2012/Pixabay

This college student deserves an “F” in accounting after she blew through a $90,000 college fund on expensive clothes and a trip to Europe and now has no way to pay for her senior year, a predicament  she blames on her parents.

The 22-year-old woman detailed her financial woes on an Atlanta FM-radio show whose wisecracking hosts derided her spendthrift ways and whose listeners belittled on Twitter as the millennial who was giving millennials a bad name. Kim, who did not mention her last name or her school, told “The Bert Show” that it was all her parents fault for not showing her how to manage her money.

“Maybe they should have taught me how to budget a little better, a little more carefully,” she told the show the other day. “They never sat me down and had a real serious talk about it. They said, ‘Here’s your college fund, it’s for classes only.’”

Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, told “Fox & Friends” Sunday that Kim’s parents do share part of the blame.

“Not necessarily for failing to teach their daughter financial regimens and accounting, but because they didn’t teach her character,” he said.

Kim said her grandparents set up the college fund for her years ago. She contacted “The Bert Show” after the school had just mailed her the tuition bill for her senior year, according to Yahoo’s financial news website. She explained that she was short about $20,000 for her final two semesters.

“I just wasn’t very good with my budget,” she said. “I also used it to budget for school clothes, stuff like that. My college break money…Maybe I should have not done that.”

Kim said she also used her college tuition money on a European vacation. “The Europe thing I thought was part of my education and that’s how I tried to justify that,” she said, according to Yahoo!

In another call, the young woman said her parents told her there was nothing they could do for her because they didn’t have any money. She accused her father of being a “little bit of a jerk about it” after she told him she was broke.

“They’re not being honest with me, saying they don’t have it because my father has worked for like a million years and they have a retirement account,” Kim said.

She said her parents suggested she take out a loan with the credit union. “And I’m like, ‘How am I supposed to do that?’” she said.

The next day Kim told the show she went down to the credit union after all to apply for a loan. She said the loan officer told her she would need her parents as co-signers because she didn’t work and didn’t have collateral.

Kim told the show her parents wouldn’t co-sign unless she got a part-time job.

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll tell my parents I’ll be a stripper if they don’t co-sign,” the woman said.

In a fourth call to the station, Kim said her situation had improved. Her loan had been approved and she was looking for a job, as much as that pained her.

She was also still blaming her parents.

“I know they’re trying to teach me a lesson blah, blah, blah and character building, but like I hope they realize that this can have such a negative effect on my grades and as a person,” Kim said on the air.

Written by Fox News

(Source: Fox News)

Twitter to ‘Reboot’ Growth, Relationship with Developers: Dorsey

Jurgen Appelo/Flickr
Jurgen Appelo/Flickr

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey said Wednesday the struggling messaging platform is in the midst of “rebooting” as it seeks to fulfill what he sees as its vital mission as a rapid source of information.

Speaking at the Twitter developers conference in San Francisco, Dorsey said the relationship with Twitter and third-party developers had become strained but promised to work to improve the situation.

“Somewhere along the line our relationship with developers became a little bit complicated,” he said.

“I apologize for our confusion,” adding that “we want to reset our relationship, make sure we are learning, we are listening, we are rebooting.”

Dorsey said the developers play a key role in helping Twitter fulfill its important role in the global community.

“Twitter is unique because it is a brand, a bird, a logo that just about everyone on the planet has seen. It stands for something,” he said.

“Twitter empowers the conversation that the world needs to see.”

Dorsey also told the 1,500 developers that Twitter would make available analytical tools that can help them get better data on how people use applications.

Dorsey, a co-founder of Twitter, this month began his second stint as CEO as the San Francisco-based company seeks to revive growth and move toward profitability.

One of the first things Dorsey announced was the new Moments feature, which enables members to get a glimpse at breaking news.

On Wednesday, Twitter announced another feature called “Twitter Polls” that enables users to “weigh in on all the topics they care about.”

“If you want the public’s opinion on anything — what to name your dog, who will win tonight’s game, which election issue people care most about — there’s no better place to get answers than on Twitter,” said a blog post from Twitter’s Todd Sherman.

“For poll creators, it’s a new way to engage with Twitter’s massive audience and understand exactly what people think. For those participating, it’s a very easy way to make your voice heard.”

Written by AFP

(Source: MSN)

Twitter is Planning Company-Wide Layoffs for Next Week

Jack Dorsey
Kimberly White / Getty Images Entertainment

Jack Dorsey was named permanent CEO of Twitter on Monday, and a big reason he got the job was that as a co-founder, Dorsey isn’t afraid to make the tough, necessary decisions. He isn’t wasting much time.

Twitter is planning company-wide layoffs next week, according to multiple sources. It’s unclear how much of the staff will be culled, but insiders say it will likely affect most, if not all, departments.

The downsizing comes at the same time Twitter is restructuring its engineering organization to make it leaner and more efficient, these sources say. It’s likely that many of those impacted by the layoffs will be engineers, which make up about half the staff.

A Twitter spokesperson told Re/code, “We’re not commenting on rumor and speculation.”

Those close to the company have argued for years that Twitter has become too bloated. It reported roughly 4,200 employees last quarter, more than double the roughly 2,000 employees it had in Q2 2013 just before the IPO. Twitter’s user base has grown less than 50 percent in that time. Of course, some of the growth has come via acquisitions — Twitter has made plenty over the past two years. But still, the feeling from those close to the company is that Twitter’s engineering team is much larger than it needs to be.

The reorg also aligns with what Dorsey has been preaching for the last four months: That Twitter needs to be more focused. In June he told Re/code that the company needed to do a better job of “clarifying ownership” around projects, and he restructured Twitter’s product team in August to do just that.

Now, it appears, the rest of the staff will be reshuffled, too.

Written by Kurt Wagner of Re/code

(Source: Re/code)

Forget Your Password? A Selfie May Do Just Fine

© Provided by CNBC

The camera phone has changed the way society has captured events, turning smartphone owners into citizen journalists, giving rise to photo-based social media apps and creating new products like the selfie stick.

Yet vanity is gradually adding up to dollars and cents, with more businesses begin to cater to consumers through their smartphone’s camera lens.

MasterCard (MA) recently announced it will start experimenting with a new program of approving online purchases with a facial scan rather than a password. PayPal  (PYPL) is also offering a similar concept through its mobile app and recently, Apple  (AAPL) filed a patent allowing facial recognition technology to unlock your iPhone (a practice that Samsung  (593-KR) has as well).

These trends are emerging as recent data suggest many consumers—including the hotly coveted millennial age group—have a clear affinity for using pictures rather than keyboards.

A new survey of more than 1,000 millennials found that 96 percent consider their camera crucial to their smartphone and nearly 50 percent even said their smartphone was “practically useless” without a camera. The survey, conducted by Mitek and Zogby Analytics, found that 68 percent of respondents said they would rather snap a picture than have to type something. That may be causing causing businesses to rethink how their younger consumers interact with products and services.

James DeBello, Mitek’s president & CEO, said companies are finding it important to engage with millennials on their own terms. One example DeBello cited is being able to sign up for a gym membership by taking a photo of a driver’s license, instead of having to type out information.

“The camera phone is how they want to be doing transactions and there can be revenue opportunities,” he told CNBC. “The camera is the new addiction and it’s a gateway to commerce.”

The substitution of passwords with selfies is an idea whose time appears to have come, some observers say.

“Millennials love their cameras,” said Cathy Boyle, mobile analyst at eMarketer. She attributes the growth in commerce opportunities to the rise in the cameras used n social media.

Even Twitter  (TWTR), a predominantly text-based product, has been building out more photo-based applications recently. “The applications for the camera phone are still being realized and have a long way to go,” she said.

Many believe the biggest growth for camera phone usage may be in banking. Some 54 percent of millennials in the Mitek and Zogby survey said they’ve deposited a check with Mobile Deposit—up 20 percent from just a year prior. Meanwhile, 40 percent said they would like to see more mobile use in banking.

Teddy Citrin, an investor at venture capital firm Greycroft Partners, said the camera’s potential is becoming a predominant factor in determining some of the companies in which the firm invests.

“The creative utilization of cameras has become a focal point for many new apps we see and for larger companies evolving their product,” he said.

He thinks that over the next few years, technology that harnesses camera phones will lead to an increase in doctors diagnosing and providing counsel from afar, instant appraisal of goods, and other facial recognition applications.

Security and selfies could be one way the banking sector could evolve; however, how secure it is still remains to be seen. For now, the sheer vanity the cell camera offers is its most practical application. The survey found 38 percent of the millennials take a least one selfie per day, while 10 percent taking more than 10 per day.

Citrin thinks there are many untapped applications that remain to be seen.

“Applications that power the camera will become incrementally smarter and more important,” he said. “Facial recognition, credit card reading, and augmented reality are just the start.”

Written by Uptin Saiidi of CNBC

(Source: CNBC)

3 Things Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Wants You to Know

JUSTIN TALLIS—AFP/Getty Images
JUSTIN TALLIS—AFP/Getty Images

Twitter TWTR 1.35% has finally confirmed that co-founder Jack Dorsey has been appointed as the company’s permanent CEO, a position he has been occupying on an interim basis for several months. This is big news for investors, because it dissipates a lot of uncertainty regarding the company’s leadership and strategic direction. Now that Dorsey is taking the reigns for good, let’s take a look at his vision for the company.

Twitter needs to do much better
Twitter is producing solid revenue growth, but that’s mostly because of increased monetization. User growth has been downright disappointing during the last several quarters. Based on data for the second quarter of 2015, Twitter has 304 million monthly active users when excluding SMS Fast Followers (those who access Twitter exclusively via SMS). This represents an increase in users of 12% year over year, and only 2 million new users were gained versus the first quarter of 2015.

Even worse, the company delivered no growth whatsoever in the U.S. user base. Twitter ended the second quarter of 2015 with 66 million users in the U.S.; the number was flat in comparison to the first quarter.

While many corporate executives tend to look for excuses when things don’t go as expected, Dorsey is not going down that road. He fully acknowledges that current performance is well below Twitter’s potential, and that the company needs to do much better on the user front.

During Twitter’s earnings conference call for the last quarter Dorsey said:

We’ve been very successful at monetization, with a strong Q2, delivering over $500 million in revenue and more than $120 million in EBITDA. However, product initiatives we’ve mentioned in previous earnings calls like instant timelines and logged out experiences have not yet had meaningful impact on growing our audience or participation. This is unacceptable, and we’re not happy about it.

Identifying the problem
Dorsey and his management team believe that Twitter needs to build a simpler and more enjoyable user experience. Many users find the Twitter language and overall platform functionality too complex. Besides, Twitter needs to send a clearer message to potential users as to why they should open an account and engage in the platform.

In Dorsey’s words:

We need to do three things. One, we need to ensure a more disciplined execution. Two, we need to simplify our service to deliver Twitter’s value faster. And three, we need to better communicate our value.

Elaborating on the company’s problems, Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto explained during the latest conference call:

This low level of penetration implies that we have only reached early adopters and technology enthusiasts, and we have not yet reached the next cohort of users known as the mass market. We believe the reason is that we have failed to do two critical things. First, we have not clearly communicated Twitter’s unique value, and so that’s reflected in everything we do across product, content, and marketing, and as a result, non-users can ask why should I use Twitter?

Additionally, we have not delivered on meeting the new potential user’s expectations of Twitter when they try the product. Simply said, the product remains too difficult to use. As Jack mentioned, we need to simplify the product so everyone gets value from Twitter faster. In short, we have not communicated why people should use Twitter, nor made it easy for them to understand how to use Twitter. This is both a product issue and a marketing issue.

The plan
Dorsey has a clear idea about what Twitter stands for, and what the company can do to realize its potential. In his own Twitter account, the executive recently wrote:

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 6.11.07 PM

In this context, the company launched its Moments initiative on Tuesday. The concept is actually quite simple and straightforward: Users can tap on the Moments tab to see a collection of the day’s top stories, curated and organized by the company’s editorial teams in New York and San Francisco. Twitter is also allowing a small group of select partners, including Bleacher Report, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, Fox News, Getty Images, Mashable, MLB, NASA, the New York Times, Vogue, andWashington Post to publish Moments on the app.

The stories combine text-only tweets, photos, and video, and they have well-defined beginnings and endings. Moments also allows for temporary follows, meaning that you can follow some accounts for a short period of time. For example, you may want to know about a football game or a political debate, but as soon as the event is over, the accounts you are temporarily following disappear from your timeline.

The main idea is that you don’t need to be a power user to enjoy Moments. Even if you don’t know who to follow, or how to separate the noisy conversation from the truly valuable content, Twitter is providing an easier way to use the platform and extract more juice from it.

Whether or not Twitter can deliver sustained user growth under Dorsey’s leadership still remains to be seen. However, it’s good to know that the company has a clear and coherent plan to jump-start performance in this crucial area.

Written by Andres Cardenal of The Motley Fool

(Source: The Motley Fool)