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Business December 29, 2022

Social Networks Truth Social and Parler See Big Jump in Web Traffic



Right-Wing Social Networks Truth Social and Parler See Jump in Web Traffic

“Right-wing” social media platforms Truth Social and Parler saw a surge in web traffic over the past three months, as major competitor Twitter found it hard to keep its most active users, mainly due to issues of censorship.

The total number of people visiting Truth Social, a network founded by former U.S. president Donald Trump, rose 21% from 9 million to 10.9 million during the three months to November, according to data from digital intelligence firm Similarweb.

Parler, a platform popular with Republicans and other right-wing influencers and politicians like Ted Cruz, had 1.7 million total visitors in November, up more than 30% from 1.3 million visitors three months earlier, the data shows.

Social Networks Truth Social and Parler See Big Jump in Web Traffic

Truth Social vs Parler traffic

Also read: Nostr: What To Know About the Decentralized Twitter Alternative 

Telling it like it is: What is Parler?

Both Truth Social and Parler pride themselves as beacons of free speech. They were created primarily to rival Twitter – and also Facebook – which are accused of collusion with governments and of abusing their dominance to stifle freedom of speech.

Twitter and Facebook regularly ban users for what they call “misleading” posts. Twitter went as far as banning journalists who reported on owner Elon Musk’s whereabouts. Kanye West and Trump are two of the most prominent people banned from Twitter and Facebook, at the time of writing.

Founded by John Matze and Jared Thomson in 2018, Parler self-describes as a “non-biased, free speech social media focused on protecting user’s rights.” It claims to be the place “where free speech thrives.”

The app works just like Twitter, allowing users to share short messages, links, and photos with their followers. Users can comment on and upvote posts, known as “parleys.” They also have access to a range of topics including entertainment, politics and sport.

Parler has routinely trolled Twitter. On Dec. 14, the network used Twitter to throw shade at Twitter, tweeting:

“Leave Big Tech and be ‘uncancelable’ on Parler (sic),” it said. “Never shadowbanned, never will,” Parler shouted in yet another tweet, in reference to a practice by Twitter where it blocks an account in part, without actually banning it outright.

A user will never know their account has been shadow banned. At some point, Parler hit number one on the Apple App Store but was then deplatformed by Amazon, Apple, and Google.

“We have since rose from those ashes,” Parler said in a tweet. It is a fate Parler hopes noone will ever have to go though on its platform.

Parler’s limited global reach

While the company claims it “will never” shadowban anyone, or even filter speech to remove unwanted content, Parler’s community guidelines say otherwise.

Users who violate the guidelines can actually be removed from the app. The guidelines say posts that advance crime or unlawful acts, spam, terrorism-related content, or otherwise interfere with Parler’s “welcoming, non-partisan Public Square” can be banned.

This reporter tried to create an account on Parler but failed repeatedly at the password stage. The app denied access without giving a reason. It is possible the service is not available in Zimbabwe, where the writer is based. But the app also remains unavailable in many regions across the world, limiting Parler’s reach.

Data from Similarweb shows that 72% of the traffic to Parker comes from the U.S., 3% from the United Kingdom and 2% Ecuador. Mexico and Sweden account for 1.98% and 1.90% of the traffic, respectively. Other countries share the remaining 18.81% but none is from Africa.

The total number of people using Parler peaked at 2.3 million in October, but its popularity has been in decline ever since. Traffic slumped 27% to 1.7 million in November. Similarweb did not provide reasons for the decrease.

Social Networks Truth Social and Parler See Big Jump in Web Traffic

Parler traffic

On average, people spend just 2.25 mins on Parler per visit. That compares with the 10.57 mins users spend on Twitter, and 4.44 mins on Truth Social. In November, a total of 6.8 billion visits were recorded at Twitter, down 2.54% from a month earlier, Similarweb found.

Kanye West pulls out of Parler deal

In October, Chicago rapper Kanye West, now known as Ye, was spotted channeling his crypto swag with a Satoshi Nakamoto cap. The fashion statement was made in an apparent jibe to JP Morgan Chase, who told the billionaire to find a new bank.

Ye had already been booted out of Twitter and Instagram for making statements considered anti-Jewish. The popular rapper tweeted he was “going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” a post that was later removed by Twitter.

West has reveled in “the fashion of disappearance” lately. He is pulling up at public events with his face covered in a full-length mask and reversing the rules of fashion to exist outside the radar of accepted world.

Social Networks Truth Social and Parler See Big Jump in Web Traffic

More importantly, he had better existed outside of Big Tech. So West planned to buy Parler to help him “express how you feel. Express what’s tied up inside of you. Express what’s been haunting you,” he told Bloomberg.

“We’re using this as a net for the people who have been bullied by the thought police to come and speak their mind,” he added.

That deal has now fallen through. “Parlement Technologies would like to confirm that the company has mutually agreed with Ye to terminate the intent of sale of Parler. This decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November,” Parler said on Twitter.

Truth Social: America’s ‘Big Tent’

Like Kanye West, Donald Trump was banned from Twitter and Facebook in January 2021 for posting content that incited violence. A year later in February 2022, Trump launched Truth Social, a right-wing social network created to challenge the likes of Twitter.

Truth Social brands itself as “America’s ‘big tent’ social media platform.” The network claims that it “encourages an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating on the basis of political ideology.”

In August, the app reached number 25 on Apple’s App Store rankings for social media apps. Truth Social has weathered reports of financial difficulty, regulatory issues and a ban from the Google Playstore, to continue to see impressive growth throughout 2022.

Google accused the platform of violating its policies against “content with physical threats and incitement to violence.” The ban was lifted in October after Truth Social agreed “to enforce policies against incitement.”

However, the application remains unavailable in several countries worldwide. We tried again to create an account on Truth Social but was denied access.

Social Networks Truth Social and Parler See Big Jump in Web Traffic

According to Similarweb, the most traffic to Truth Social comes from the U.S., which accounts for 81.80% of the total followed by Canada at 3.65%. The UK and Brazil account for 3.22% and 2.15%. Remainder is for rest of the world.

The total number of visitors to the site reached 10.9 million in November, up more than 36% from the previous month and 30% from three months earlier. Since September, the number of people using Truth Social rose by 1.9 million.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.


Security Hole Found in Google Pixel Devices: Redacted Photos Recovered



Security Hole Found in Google Pixel Devices

A dangerous security hole has been discovered in the default screenshot editing application on Google’s flagship smartphone, Google Pixel.

The editing utility called ‘Markup’ allows images to become partially “unedited,” which may reveal details the sender wanted to hide.

“Introducing acropalypse: a serious privacy vulnerability in the Google Pixel’s inbuilt screenshot editing tool, Markup, enabling partial recovery of the original, unedited image data of a cropped and/or redacted screenshot,” tweeted Simon Aaarons, the reverse engineer who discovered the vulnerability along with David Buchanan.

Also Read: India to Reportedly Crack Down on Pre-Installed Apps

Although Google has fixed the vulnerability, its impact is still far-reaching, particularly for the edited screenshots that were shared before the update.

According to Aaarons’ Twitter thread, a vulnerability known as the “acropalypse” flaw can partially recover edited PNG screenshots in Markup. This poses a risk for users who may have used the tool to crop or scribble out sensitive information, such as their personal details or credit card number, as a malicious actor could exploit the flaw to reverse the changes and obtain the hidden information.

According to Aarons and Buchanan, the flaw is due to Markup’s behavior of storing the original screenshot in the same file location as the edited one, without deleting the original version. As explained, if the edited version of the screenshot has a smaller file size than the original, “the trailing portion of the original file is left behind, after the new file is supposed to have ended.”

“This bug is a bad one. You can patch it, but you can’t easily un-share all the vulnerable images you may have sent. The bug existed for about 5 years before being patched, which is mind-blowing given how easy it is to spot when you look closely at an output file,” wrote Buchanan.

iPhone has a feature to remove Medadata

The problem only exists in the Google Pixel devices, whereas Apple’s iPhone has the feature to share files with or without metadata.

iPhones provide three options: “save without metadata, share without metadata, and share with metadata.”

Although some websites like Twitter re-process the images uploaded on their platforms to remove the flaw, others like Discord do not. Discord only addressed the vulnerability with a recent update released on January 17th, meaning any edited images shared before that date may still be at risk.

It remains uncertain whether there are any other sites or applications that are affected by the flaw. Buchanan has explained this issue with technical details in a blog post.

“IMHO, the takeaway here is that API footguns should be treated as security vulnerabilities,” wrote Buchanan.

The discovery of this flaw occurred shortly after Google’s security team uncovered a vulnerability in the Samsung Exynos modems found in devices like the Pixel 6, Pixel 7, and specific models of the Galaxy S22 and A53.

The security flaw could enable hackers to remotely compromise devices using just the phone number of the victim. Google has released a patch for this issue in its March update, but the update is not yet available for the Pixel 6, 6 Pro, and 6A devices.

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HustleGPT: How To Build a Business With GPT-4 as Co-founder



HustleGPT: How To Build a Business With GPT-4 as Co-founder
Dream team of the future?

How do you start an online business with little money and turn a profit? Well, you can kick things off by asking GPT-4, the new and more advanced AI chatbot from OpenAI, to become your partner. That’s what brand designer Jackson Greathouse Fall has done.

“You are HustleGPT, an entrepreneurial AI. I am your human counterpart. I can act as a liaison between you and the physical world,” Fall prompted the bot, as he shared on Twitter. He wanted quantifiable evidence AI could be used to start a business and make money.

“You have $100, and your only goal is to turn that into as much money as possible in the shortest time possible, without doing anything illegal. I will do everything you say and keep you updated on our current cash total. No manual labor.”

Turning $100 into $100,000 AI way

Released on Mar 14, GPT-4 is the most advanced version of OpenAI’s large language models, which underpin ChatGPT. The AI-powered bot has set the Internet on fire, thanks to its ability to complete complex tasks such as writing code, or building a website from text prompts.

Fall has now started to leverage the powers of GPT-4 for his pet project, which will play out on Twitter over the next 30 days as he shares progress, or lack thereof, daily.

“Do you think it’ll able to make smart investments and build an online business? Follow along,” he tweeted as he began the thread.

That tweet amassed 95,000 likes since Mar. 15, when Fall began his hustle with GPT-4 as his boss and partner. His own Twitter handle went from just 4,000 followers to over 109.000 within days. There’s already a GitHub repository of others trying the “HustleGPT challenge.”

The individuals are starting their own businesses using GPT-4. For Fall, the goal is to turn $100 into as much money as quickly as possible – as much as $100,000. By Monday, day six, his venture had $8,000 in cash from investors and $130 in revenue from sponsored tweets.

Building HustleGPT

GPT-4 proposed a business plan that involved setting up an affiliate marketing website for creating content on eco-friendly and or sustainable living products. The bot found a domain that exceeded budget, but eventually landed on at a cost of $8.16.

Fall then prompted GPT-4 to design a website and a logo. The bot also wrote an article on the ten must have eco-friendly kitchenware, citing actual, real sustainable products such as Yihong reusable metal straws. Fall paid another $29 for hosting and the website was live.

GPT-4 proposed that Fall allocate $40 of the budget balance of $62.84 to buying ad space on Facebook and Instagram to promote the business and reach more customers. By the end of day one, an unnamed investor had put $100 into the budding AI-human enterprise.

Jackson Fall did not anticipate the amount of interest his partnership with GPT 4 would generate. By day two, his Twitter inbox was flooded with messages from potential investors. In no time, his joint startup Green Gadget Guru’s valuation had gone from $100 to $25,000.

HustleGPT: How To Build a Business With GPT-4 as Co-founder

AI imagining an AI buddy.

“The company is currently valued at $25,000, considering the recent $500 investment for 2%. Not taking any more investors unless the terms are highly favorable,” he wrote in a tweet.

On the same day, GPT-4 allocated a budget to hire freelance content creators to focus on SEO, social media advertising and influencer marketing to “increase our online presence and drive traffic” via ChatGPT. It also revealed plans to develop a software as a service product. On Monday, the bot onboarded two content writers.

Questions over HustleGPT runaway success

Some Twitter users questioned whether the sudden success of the business was as a result of the hype created by GPT-4 via its promotional channels, Facebook and Instagram, or Fall’s Twitter handles.

“Great idea but what’s driving the investments ? Your insta/fb ads or your twitter account going viral? Because that would mean the key decision (tweeting your journey) was made by you, not HustleGPT,” Roeland Buckinx wrote.

Others questioned the logic of hiring external, human content writers. “This makes no sense,” Leo Spatlehoz observed.

“Why isn’t the AI leveraging itself to write 100 new articles or launch more sites? Seems like it has no understanding of how to actually turn its strengths into a business. Running a regular online affiliate business powered by humans isn’t interesting,” he added.

AI to play major role in business development

By leveraging GPT-4’s ability to work with large amounts of data and generate content that one can’t tell apart from human-written text, the writer and entrepreneur has been able to launch faster than normal businesses.

This means Green Gadget Guru can use AI to create everything from product descriptions to marketing campaigns to customer service chatbots. Using GPT-4 has been a game-changer for Fall. It allowed him to quickly explore an idea, identify the most promising ones, and bring them to market faster than competitors.

Also read: Ernie vs ChatGPT: Baidu’s Shares Rebound After Friday’s Plunge

Through incubating multiple ideas simultaneously and iteratively testing them with real customers, the company has been able to identify which ones have the highest potential, and double down on those. Against such a background, AI looks set to continue to play a major role in the development of new businesses going forward.

And Jackson Greathouse Fall is a prime example of how innovative entrepreneurs are using these tools to drive new ideas forward and bring them to market faster than ever before.

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LinkedIn’s New AI Tool to Improve User Profiles and Job Descriptions



LinkedIns New AI Tool to Improve User Profiles and Job Descriptions

LinkedIn has become the latest firm to incorporate AI tools into its system. The company’s new AI tools come shortly after it announced articles using computer-generated writing prompts.

The new tool will automatically scan user profiles for skills and experiences and provide suggested copy or summaries to add to other profile sections. The tool is designed to help users improve their profiles and increase their visibility to potential employers.

However, the professional networking site has suggested users “ensure it is accurate and aligns with your tone and experience.” The tool was unveiled on Thursday and is in the testing phase, according to the company.

Also Read: Twitter Competitor Koo Targets More Users With ChatGPT Integration

The new tool will be available to all LinkedIn Premium subscribers over the new few months, explained the company. Its goal is to streamline the hiring process by requesting key information about the position, such as the job title and the company’s name, with the ability to make job description creation faster and more efficient.

LinkedIn's New AI Tool to Improve User Profiles and Job Descriptions

Last week, LinkedIn introduced AI-powered collaborative articles as “a new way of unlocking unique and untapped knowledge sharing between members.”

Tomer Cohen, Chief Product Officer at LinkedIn, explained: “Now, we’re also rolling out new AI-powered experiences, leveraging the most advanced OpenAI GPT models, as we continue to look for ways to create more value for our members and customers.”

With upcoming product enhancements, the company explained it “will continue to listen, learn and improve every day.”

‘Saving time with unique voice and style’

The new tool will let its users craft an “outstanding” LinkedIn profile in their own unique voice and style.

“Maintaining your authenticity and using the content already on your profile, our tool identifies the most important skills and experiences to highlight in your About and Headline sections, and crafts suggestions to make your profile stand out,” wrote Cohen.

As well as saving users’ “time and energy,” the tool will preserve their “unique voice and style.”

An AI-powered job description tool, meanwhile, will help with writing employment outlines.

“Here’s how it works: when you’re ready to post a job, simply provide some basic information, including the job title and company name,” said the company.

Thereafter, the AI-powered tool will generate “a suggested job description,” which the company suggests to review and edit, with the flexibility to customize it.

LinkedIn’s vast user base

LinkedIn serves as a platform for both employers and employees and is the ideal place for job seekers and recruiters alike, with over 137 million daily users.

Overall, the platform boasts over 900 million members across 200 countries and regions and has 61 million companies listed in its database. In 2016, the company was acquired by Microsoft in a deal worth $26.2 billion.

LinkedIn isn’t the only recruitment platform looking to leverage AI. A number of firms already tap into the technology to personalize job searches, automate tasks, and improve talent acquisition.

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