Updated: 3 July 2018
We have been reporting and lecturing for over 10 years why the internet is NOT your friend. It is a convenient partner, but with any partnership, you have to keep some safety and security issues in mind.
Data brokerage is a BILLION dollar business and YES, most every organisation from Equifax, Facebook and even the government will make your information known to the world and anyone willing to buy it. In the “olden” days of analog landlines and cable, companies purchased “hard lists.” Now, all they have to do is scrub the internet for vital data they can sell about you. YOUR data IS for sale.
If you vote, buy property, get a traffic ticket, go to court, report theft to the police, sign up for offers, include your personal data on social media sites, your personal data is already compromised. Unfortunately, you cannot get a “do over,” once your personal data is out there, BUT you can master the art of complete SEPARATION.
What to do moving forward? Here are some steps we have tested.
Whilst I am a self-professed "mouthpiece," I am a strategically thorough individual who believes in the evidentiary process. In other words, I examine facts, data and first person accounts before jumping to any conclusion.
Whilst there have been extensive sourced coverages on how to get verified on Twitter, legitimate stories of disappointment and reflection were also posted, along with their verification "rejection" or "denial" emails. In EVERY instance, the denial emails were computerised, duplicate versions that said EXACTLY the same thing, with no explanation of why the account holder was denied @verified. (updated 17 Oct 2017: Please note, we came to this conclusion after examining over 100 such Twitter denial emails, including David Bradford (@dsbradford) who allowed us to link to his personal journey to get Twitter verified. He also provides some interesting insights.)
Our six month investigation concluded that Twitter is using algorithm, similar to an HRIS in human resources that filters through key words and phrases to select the ideal candidates and filters out those who don't "meet certain criteria." It is highly doubtful that Twitter has the "manpower" or funds to hire staffers to do the job of the computer, based on the large volume of requests they receive. Unfortunately, by so doing, Twitter has denied volumes of "legitimate" and worthy accounts.
Twitter wrote on their blog dated 19 July 2016 that "Verified accounts on Twitter allow people to identify key individuals and organizations on Twitter as authentic, and are denoted by a blue badge icon." They continue by stating, "Typically this includes accounts maintained by public figures and organizations in music, TV, film, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas." They continue by mentioning that @CDCGov was one of the first verified, and even @kimkardashian was recognized. Well, we know what occurred in Paris, which goes to show that "oversharing" on social media is not always a good thing. As Bill Cunningham, the famed New York Times street fashion photographer once stated, "It's the clothes. Not the celebrity and not the spectacle." My sentiments exactly!
In this "celebrity-obsessed" world, where a picture of a pancake by XYZ celebrity receives 1.5M retweets, Twitter @verified is shutting out interesting voices from "real" people. Many of these account holders are long term Twitter users, putting out quality tweets, not regurgitated noise. Whilst they may not write for @forbes, work for @vogue, Oscar nominated or winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, they represent the cultural diversity in our society, with unique perspectives and stories that deserve a platform worth their time and energy.
By tricking users into thinking they have a chance to have their profile verified with the white check in the cloud, is deceitful and a public fraud. By Twitter's own press release, they are looking for "certain criteria," which does not include the "general" public, so why conduct a PR cattle call, when they know that less than 1% will be approved? It is because Twitter wants to "Wag the Dog," perhaps not to the degree of Dustin Hoffman's political "spin" film, where fabricated war covered up a presidential sex scandal. Twitter needs a PR boost or distraction from their bleeding financial mess.
Here is one conjecture we believe may be the catalyst for Twitter to open up @verified to the public. Twitter is bleeding financially. Since its IPO launch in 2013, it has been a walking wounded, evidenced from 2014 to the present. The stock has been trading in the teens since early 2016. Interestingly, the stock fell to a new low, trading at $13.90 in May 2016, two months before the announcement opening @verified to the public. It is now hovering above $18.60 as of this report. We surmise the public @verified was a marketing ploy to garner more interest in the micro-blogging site that has flatlined, with negative performance on return on assets (ROA) and 10% dip on Return on equity (ROE) in 2016.
Contrast Twitter with Facebook whose IPO launched in 2012 and stock hovering north of $173.70 as of this report. Facebook did not feel the need, at this time, to open up their verification to everyone. (Updated 17 Oct 2017. At the time of this report, the Facebook help centre posted a DIFFERENT response to this question, "How do I request a gray verification badge for my Page?" Facebook answer: "This feature isn't available to everyone right now." (screen shot dated Sunday, 15 October at 06:33). They changed that response to now posted steps to verify your business page). The gray badge are for non-celebrities. In researching this recent Facebook update, and notable clicks to this blog, it is logical that Facebook was notified that they needed to change their help centre page. For this reason, blogs and main stream media notate updates, omissions and errors to previous posts to ensure the integrity of the data and information provided to the public.
Bottomline: A Twitter @verified account, just as a Facebook verified badge, won't make me more inclined to click on the page or profile and connect. Social Media to me is not about the celebrity. It is about connecting with "real" people in the "real" world, even if it is a virtual world. It is still a cultural community. I am an "authentic" person and I don't need a near bankrupt micro-blogging site to tell me otherwise.
Addendum (added 18 Oct 2017): In response to 32 direct email queries related to, "Did you try to get verified?" The short answer: No. The Long answer: Yes - The INTEGRITY of the experiment is critical, so in order to fully understand a process, you must experience it for yourself. The information I supplied Twitter, however, would not win me a verified status. Putting together some obscure links (instead of actual main stream articles written about me and articles I wrote), with no bio, no photo, no header photo, is an automatic rejection from Twitter's algorithm; and YES, I too was not verified based on what was submitted. Weirdly the email stated to try again in 30 days. No thanks. I concluded the experiment. The End. I believe social media is about "inclusion" NOT "segregation." The white check should represent ALL legitimate trusted accounts based on a true authentication process.
Twitter is targeting this Thursday morning as the trading day for their much awaited and talked about IPO, or initial public offering. They will set the price, estimated between $23 and $25 Wednesday evening. This is more than the $17-$20 originally estimated. This will raise about $2 billion, at the high end. They are offering 70 million shares, indicating a market value as much as $13.6 billion. Their symbol is TWTR on the New York Stock Exchange. Opening bell at 9:30 am.
By industry accounts, this IPO launch is probably the most anticipated since Facebook last year. If you feel you missed the boat on Facebook (FB), don't worry. You can buy up the stock on its way down or up, depending on your risk tolerance and ready cash. It was trading at $50.10 at the time of this report.
INVESTING STRATEGY FOR THE NEWBIES!
Investing in stocks can be fun and rewarding. I would, however, caution, NEVER to use your life savings, emergency fund or funds you don't have. Investing is also NOT for the faint hearted. Stock picking is a game of strategy AND lifestyle. Don't pick stocks in an industry you know nothing about. Speculative investing is a dangerous practice, if you don't know what you are doing.
I have been investing in Technology stocks since 1987, BUT I don't own a lick of shares in Microsoft. I pick what interests me (Facebook), what I use (Apple) and bank on innovative companies (Google) that keep pushing the envelope (Samsung).
Stock picking is part strategy, part lifestyle and a whole lot of patience. I am not a day trader. I sit on my shares for the long haul, occasionally selling for other gains (real estate). I always use money I will NEVER miss. This discipline was the BIGGEST lesson I have ever learned because anyone who has traded will tell you that you WILL LOSE MONEY, somewhere in the process, GUARANTEED!
The great thing about free falling stocks, i.e. Facebook (FB) last year, is you CAN buy MORE of it on the way down. I bought it at $40 and bought some more of it at $24. I am NEVER glued to a stock's day to day performance. I am in-tuned with the company, their business model and executive leadership. I am banking on the people behind the ticker NOT the stock, itself. A company's valuation is also critical to my bottom line.
Contrary to popular MYTH, you DON'T need to be rich to invest. Did you know that one share will get you to the party? That is correct, you will be invited to the annua.l shareholder's meeting. So, if you want to see The Zuck live at next year's meeting, buy one share of Facebook (FB).
On the OTHER HAND, if you want to infuse your retirement and/or lifestyle, typically 1,000 shares might do it. BUT, there is NEVER a guarantee that will even happen either.
HOW WILL TWITTER LAUNCH?
With this stated, you should educate yourself on how IPOs work. The firms handling the roll out of Twitter include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank. IPOs are first offered to clients of these firms, who then sell shares. Individual. high networth clients of these firms may also have access to the IPO. The shares than trickle down to online brokerage houses. You might also have access to them through your mutual funds company. BUT, ALL of this will not be clear until the stock actually starts trading on the exchange.
SHOULD YOU INVEST IN TWITTER?
"Securities," unlike your savings and checking accounts, DO NOT fall under the FDIC protective status. "Securities" are NOT guaranteed. That is why stock trading carries enormous RISK, and in the process, you may lose EVERYTHING. Please refer to my previous statement on the third paragraph, that investing is NOT for the faint hearted.
In order to fully answer this for yourself, DO YOUR RESEARCH! The cons play out here. One in particular is that the microblogging company has not turned a profit. I would prefer to see the balance sheet before I invest in any company. I also would caution against hype. Facebook was a great example of this. Anything "red hot" might not always be a good idea, initially.
How to increase your investment Quotient:
1. Invest in what you know
2. NEVER use money you don't have
3. Don't get wrapped up with daily stock minutia
4. BANK on the business model and executive leadership.
5. Speculative investing is a dangerous practice.
YOUR BOTTOM LINE:
Please weigh the RISK, the HYPE and YOUR CASH!
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