deveverything

OK, I need to vent a little. What is the fascination with Twitter? The question is being asked more and more. Are people so in need of human contact that they will reach out to anonymous people that post messages such as “taking a dump and the phone is ringing” or “thinking that point is a real fart smeller”? This is a strange one indeed. Twitter started as:

Twitter was born as an interesting side project within the offices of Odeo in March of 2006. We are a part of Obvious Corporation in the beautiful South Park neighborhood of San Francisco, California.

…and has been up and running for a year now. Within the last month this thing has grown out of control. With something in the order to 80,000 users and climbing fast, this is, from what I have experienced, little more than a massive time suck.

Now, I have to address the security aspects of this application (big surprise). I haven’t taken it apart yet and looked for trouble spots but, on the surface we have the information leakage problem. Twitter, at this point is not blocked by Websense for example. So, we have a bypass for filtering technology in enterprises. Not to mention that this technology merges messaging in Web, SMS and Email. There is the aspect of corporate secrets or HR records leaking out of a company, admittedly at 140 characters per instance but, last time I checked this could cover off credit card or SIN/Social Security info (yes, I know there are hundreds of other ways to leak this info). Another example could be a coordinated information transfer by parties attempting to rob a bank (silly, yes) or a stalker following their prey via the “follow” feature in Twitter if they are both Twitter users (if the damn thing can stay up for a sustained period of time). There is a mash up that came out last week that uses Twitter info with Google maps to track location.

Example:

* Name: (Removed)
* Bio: (Removed).
* Location: Macon, GA, USA
* Web: http://www.foo.bar

So, the enterprising type could basically drill into this young ladies life. One could find where she lives and information on her life. Now, add in the fact that you can follow her (or any twit twitterer?) as she “twitters” and basically map out her life. Each user has their “friends” appear in their About box on the right hand of the screen. OK, so now you know where she lives, who she is friends with and her website URI. I don’t know about you but that seems a slight bit unnerving. There are all kinds of alarmist scenarios that I could go into but, I think that job has been taken by others.

My point about Twitter is that I’m trying to find the value in this application other than satisfying the human contact needs of maze runners. Myrcurial and I have been using it now for a couple weeks as a test and I still cannot see the appeal. We have integrated it into the Liquidmatrix.org pages for some amusement for our readers but, beyond that…pffft. I realize that PR types like Steve Rubel (who has a great website by the way) are having a love-in with Twitter for its marketing/PR potential. Also, politicos such as John Edwards are wading into the Twitter swimming pool. But, seriously folks, who has time to be inundated with SMS messages about some guy named Frank shaving his back or me twittering about drinking yet another coffee? Now, factor in the embedded advertisements or political attack ads that are the natural progression…sigh. That would suck.

Now, another aspect that I have a question about is this. Who the hell is paying for all of this? How are the Twitter folks making dime one? With all of this SMS traffic you can be sure someone is getting stuck with the bill. Does Twitter have a deal with the telcos that has not been publicized? And is this information being recorded by Gonzales and company?

Twitter will defy logic and survive (as has MySpace and Facebook which admittedly have marketing value). I wish them no ill. I would however love to understand the allure. YouTube for example, that I understand. Is this just a tragic illustration of the fact that world is full of lonely people?

I received an email that some one has just added me into Facebook. Sigh, here we go again.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, and the password is transmitted in clear text

POST /login HTTP/1.1

Host: twitter.com

User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X; en-US; rv:1.8.1.3) Gecko/20070309 Firefox/2.0.0.3

Accept: text/xml,application/xml,application/xhtml+xml…

Accept-Language: en-us,en;q=0.5

Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate

Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7

Keep-Alive: 300

Connection: keep-alive

Referer: http://twitter.com/login

Cookie: __utma=4383……..

Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded

Content-Length: 57

username_or_email=USERNAME&password=REMOVED&commit=Sign+In

UPDATE 2: Wow, very cool. We got picked up by Techmeme again today. We were top of the page for most of the morning. Very cool.

UPDATE 3: Now here is a useful setup. The folks from Technorati are using Twitter as a system notification delivery tool. That’s something that I can sink my teeth into. They’re also using on their WTF (where’s the fire) tool.

[tags]Twitter, Twittering, MySpace, WTF, Facebook, YouTube, Privacy, Information Security, Data Loss, Information Leakage [/tags]

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