Twitter: not dead

For the first time in a long time, Twitter reported earnings that weren't awful — the service is growing, it's saving money, and appears to be making progress in growing its audience again.

Twitter's monthly active user stat didn't move much, mostly attributable to a crackdown on fake accounts meaning more deactivations than ever, but it's successfully keeping people engaged on the service for longer, and getting them tweeting more (apparently thanks to 280-characters).

What's responsible? A better algorithm (the 'What You Missed' section is always incredibly on point for me) and a focus on live video — which you might have not even seen if you're not in the US.

A new push for exclusive shows on Twitter, which stream video alongside a feed of tweets, is really working: people are watching them. BuzzFeed's Twitter show, AM to DM, has more than a million people watching the show.

It's funny to see because people always thought it was a great second screen experience when watching TV or Netflix, but building video right into Twitter seems to have been a better bet.

All of this means Twitter made a real profit for the first time in history. Yes, you read that right: it made $91.1 million, the first positive revenue number in the company's history.

This is good news after years of rumors of attempts at selling to a suitor like Salesforce, and desperate product reboots. I think Twitter still has immense value as a format, and hope it remains around for a long time simply because it encourages bite-sized thought.

Google pushes for HTTPS

It's astounding how few websites, even today, leverage HTTPS despite dramatically dropping costs (it's basically free) and complexity. It's not just about security, but privacy too: people don't want their browsing habits snooped on, which is far easier with non-secure protocols.

Google today announced that it'll mark all non-secure websites — anyone who uses HTTP only — as Not Secure in the Chrome browser. This has interesting implications, mostly because many site owners have no idea what that means, and have previously thought Google was accusing them of doing something wrong (it is).

My favorite instance of this was the developer of a website called Oil and Gas International, who was extremely pissed off when Firefox started showing large warnings about non-secure sites when entering data on them. This person couldn't understand the 'in-your-face' warning Firefox implemented, and was pissed it was being forced on them.

Obviously this is ridiculous, but it is an interesting example of how changes like these are impactful on the web as a whole — even if they're for the better. 

Pushing security warnings like these on end users can be confusing, particularly for internal applications at companies, or devices on isolated networks: the IT folks will be getting a lot more confused messages about why there are Not Secure messages everywhere.

I'm surprised it browser makers this long to come down so hard on HTTPS — there are so many sites that just don't use it. This isn't even going to be the biggest change this year: Chrome is getting an ad-blocker soon too.

Tab Dump

Facebook tests a downvote button
This is an odd change, and shows Facebook is trying to figure out a way to gauge poor sentiment without calling it a dislike button.

Apple is cracking down on developers using emoji
The message is clear: do not use Apple-themed emoji in your app, or it may be removed. I'm pretty sad about this, I always thought emoji were a fun way to democratize iconography.

A self-driving truck just completed its first cross-country trip
It's still early, but this means a lot if you're following the industry. Trucks are the self-driving industry's biggest, and easiest target, because they spend the majority of their time on the freeway.

The hackers in North Korea's army
Their mission: make money at any cost.