Desi Twitter has the best viral money memes. How many have you seen?

What do you think about this?

What do you think about this?

The internet is a crazy, crazy place. A cursory glance at the microblogging site every morning will provide enough fodder for your entertainment throughout the day. For example, stuff that the internet is obsessing over since Wednesday are money memes.

It’s quite apt considering the fact it is that time of the month during which your bank balance can appear demoralising enough. But there is light at the end of the tunnel with salary being credited soon. Until then, millenials are busy explaining their current situation with the help of the money meme that basically features a collage of two images – a wad of cash in one hand and a hundred rupee note in the other.

We spotted some memes on Twitter that describe desi situations perfectly as the internet is drawing references ranging from daily expenses (you know what we mean, right?) to wedding rituals. Of course, low balance in the bank account is the most cited inference.


Twitter Says Removal of Fake Accounts Does Not Hurt User Metrics

Twitter Says Removal of Fake Accounts Does Not Hurt User Metrics

Twitter said on Monday it has removed fake accounts but that does not impact its reported user metrics as was indicated in a report by The Washington Post.

The newspaper had said the social media company had suspended more than 70 million fake accounts in May and June, leading to a decline of monthly active users in the second quarter.

“Most accounts we remove are not included in our reported metrics as they have not been active on the platform for 30 days or more, or we catch them at sign up and they are never counted,” CFO Ned Segal tweeted on Monday.

“If we removed 70M accounts from our reported metrics, you would hear directly from us.”

Shares of Twitter fell 9 percent on Monday after a report said the social media company had suspended more than 70 million fake accounts in May and June, which could lead to a decline of monthly active users in the second quarter.

The slump wiped about $3 billion (roughly Rs.20,600 crores) from the microblogging site’s market valuation, which had stood at about $35 billion on Friday. Twitter shares were last down 8.6 percent at $42.62 (roughly Rs. 2,900).

“Such reaction is due likely to the assumption that the lower user count would attract less ad dollars,” Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said.

Mogharabi, however, pointed to big advertisers now paying more attention to the quality content alongside which their ads are placed.


Twitter is going to make third-party apps worse starting in August

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Twitter has long had a strange disdain for third-party Twitter apps, but it’s allowed many of them to pass under the radar for the last several years. That’s starting to change this summer, when Twitter will revoke a key piece of access that developers currently have to the service, replacing it with a new access system that limits what they can do. The changes aren’t going to make third-party Twitter clients useless, but they are going to make the apps somewhat worse.

The changes, which go into effect August 16th, do two main things: first, they prevent new tweets from streaming into an app in real time; and second, they prevent and delay some push notifications. Neither of these are going to break Twitter apps completely, but they could be very annoying depending on how and where you use it.

The first change means the Twitter timeline has to be manually refreshed. That’s not necessarily a huge deal on mobile, as you’re probably used to pulling to refresh the timeline anyway. Luke Klinker, the developer behind the Android Twitter client Talon, said that only 2 to 3 percent of his users ever turned on the auto-refresh feature, or what’s known as streaming to Twitter client makers, because it was such a drain on battery. Craig Hockenberry, a senior engineer at Iconfactory, which makes Twitterrific, said it would be a bigger problem in some scenarios, like when you’re watching an event on TV. “Pulling to refresh in those cases works, but is awkward and feels ‘slow,’” he writes in an email to The Verge.

On the desktop, the lack of streaming could be a bigger issue. Twitter apps can still request that your timeline be refreshed, but they can only do it so often. If you’re the kind of person who absolutely needs to see every tweet the second it’s tweeted, that’ll be a problem.

But it might still be fine for some users. Tapbots co-founder Paul Haddad, who’s behind the Mac and iOS app Tweetbot, says that his apps are already set up to automatically check Twitter for updates “every so often” when a user has streaming disabled. “As an anecdote, we’ve had users running without streaming for months for one reason or another and not even notice,” he writes in an email to The Verge.

Push notifications could be more of a problem. On mobile, it sounds like they’re either going to vanish or be severely limited. Klinker has never had access to the developer tools that allow for push notifications, so the Talon app has never supported them. He has been able to create workarounds, like having the app occasionally request updates in the background, but it can’t receive all types of notification and, again, it’s a drain on battery.

That’s an annoying change, especially since the type of people who download third-party Twitter apps are probably the type of people who like to stay engaged on Twitter. It could also be a major issue for Twitterrific, which is available for free on iOS but charges $3 for access to notifications. That in-app purchase is Twitterrific’s “primary revenue stream,” according to Sean Heber, an engineer at Iconfactory. The feature will essentially be broken, or at least partially broken, once Twitter enacts these changes. “So this is a big problem,” he wrote in a tweet.

On the desktop, notifications will be limited, but not as dramatically. Haddad says that like and retweet notifications will stop working on Tweetbot for Mac, and other notifications will be delayed by one to two minutes.

There may be other, unexpected issues too. Heber said it’s still unknown if direct messages will work on mobile. Haddad said he expects issues on mobile to primarily revolve around push notifications, but that he wasn’t ready to detail the exact impact yet.

Twitter will offer developers a way to buy access to a new API that will enable all the old, real-time features. But the service appears to be extremely limiting and prohibitively expensive for consumer app developers. I suspect it’s likely meant for companies doing data analysis or offering financial services; something that can be sold for much more money. Twitter’s pricing comes out to $11.60 per user per month, and that’s only if an app doesn’t go above 250 users. Any more than that and they have to negotiate a deal for greater access. And given Twitter’s well-known disinterest in third-party Twitter apps, it’s unlikely this would be an option for developers.

While developers aren’t exactly thrilled with the way Twitter’s changes have turned out, it sounds like they aren’t too shaken either. “We’d obviously prefer to continue to offer things in as real-time a manner as possible, but not being able to do that is not the end of the world,” Haddad said.

Klinker said most users of Talon and other recent Android Twitter apps won’t notice any changes, since they never had access to push notifications anyway. They also aren’t likely to get some new Twitter features, he said, like polls. “My users won’t see any changes, but Twitter has restricted what I hoped to be possible for the future,” he wrote. Klinker said he was excited for the API changes because it could have finally granted his app access to notifications, but Twitter’s pricing makes it “clear that push notifications for third-party apps is the last thing Twitter wants these APIs used for, which is disappointing.”

Twitterrific for iOS should “mostly keep working without push, in theory,” wrote Heber. He said Iconfactory will “still expect to keep the app running with reduced functionality for as long as we can.”

“One thing I’m concerned that Twitter doesn’t understand: a lot of the folks who use our apps are longtime users who are highly engaged with the service,” Hockenberry said. “These folks aren’t served well by the official client and are likely to find a different outlet for their social media needs.”


Andrew Adonis: a one-man tuition fee Twitter storm

Andrew AdonisWhat has got into Andrew Adonis? The former Tony Blair guru, now a Labour peer, has spent much of his summer having a go at higher education, and particularly vice-chancellors, attacking them on Twitter, and anywhere else he can, for their “greed”, for running a “fee cartel” and for leaving students with a “Frankenstein’s monster debt”. He’s asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate why fees are so high and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) to look into governance at the University of Bath, where the vice-chancellor earns more than £450,000 a year. In any spare moment he tweets the number of university staff at individual universities on annual salaries of more than £100,000, or the six-figure earnings of managers of the Universities Superannuation Scheme, recently revealed to have run up a deficit of £17.5bn.

Asked why the sudden campaign, Lord Adonis, tripping over one of the many papers on his office floor, spills reasons almost faster than even he can articulate.

“I’ve gone in pretty strong because it’s got to be clear that the current system isn’t sustainable,” he says. “And one of two things will happen – either the vice-chancellors will lead reform themselves, or it will be done to them.” Failure to act, he suggests, will bring “massive austerity, and they will have nobody to blame but themselves”.

On one day in July he did a string of 27 tweets listing high university salaries. He joked: “There’s a universities lobbying group called MILLION PLUS which all the vice-chancellors are joining because it’s their new salary target!”

It was when fees went up to £9,250 linked to RPI with 6.1% interest that he felt impelled to speak up. “I just thought this has got totally out of hand.” He argues there is “a massive, massive category difference” between fees of £3,000 a year repaid with no real rate of interest – the scheme he helped devise in 2004 – and the current system. Particularly worrying, he says, is that the high interest rate means those who earn enough to pay all their fees back, but not enough to pay them off early – such as teachers and doctors – will end up paying far more than those on huge salaries, such as bankers, able to dispense with the debt in a few years.

Internationally, the trend is for fees to go because they have become electorally impossible, he says. Fees have been abolished in Germany – “I’ve always taken the view that if Germany is doing something you should take really serious notice” – and in New York state.

He has philosophical reasons too. The idea of the fee system he helped introduce was that it was supposed to recognise the fact that both the state and the individual benefited from higher education so both should contribute. “What happened in 2010, which I think was one of the aspects of excessive austerity, was that we moved overnight to a system where the state withdrew and the individual was expected to make the entire contribution. That became, in my view, fundamentally unfair.”

But what has really set him going over the past few weeks is looking into what universities have been doing with the fee money. “I think it is a genuine scandal what has happened not just to vice-chancellors’ pay but to top pay, and that would not have happened but for the fees bonanza,” he says.

It could also be significant that Adonis’s two children are about to start university – one next term, the other is in the process of applying. He doesn’t want to go into this beyond the fact that he’s been attending a lot of open days, which, he says, “have helped me see things – positive and negative”.

Responses to his campaign have ranged from the supportive to the furious. But it already seems to be having some effect. While the CMA declined to intervene in setting fees, the universities minister, Jo Johnson, has told vice-chancellors they must justifyhigh salaries by exceptional performance.

And Hefce, the universities’ funding council, has announced it will be investigating governance at the University of Bath in light of Adonis’s concerns. Adonis, a former journalist for the Financial Times and then the Observer, is thrilled at this, which he sees as a big story: “It’s the first time I’m aware of that Hefce has investigated the governance of a university in respect of salaries.” Actually, he seems thrilled with his campaign altogether – “the Sun did an entire two pages on it …” – and vows to continue speaking (and tweeting) truth to power.

It’s not that he’s short of other things to do. As well as his role in the Lords, he spends three days a week as chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, for which he earns – “complete transparency” – £85,000, the pro rata rate (£142,000) of a permanent secretary, the same as his preferred salary for a vice-chancellor.

Nor does he believe higher education the most pressing problem facing the UK. This clearly is Brexit: he is due to deliver a book on how to stop Brexit next month. He was asked to do one on the future of higher education but is not sure that he will have the time. But he does seem to be relishing his chance to upset the education establishment.

Adonis, who was a councillor for the SDP and then the Liberal Democrats before joining Labour, was promoted to the peerage by Blair in 2005 and became an education minister after heading the No 10 policy unit. He describes Blair as “an extraordinarily natural politician” – they are still in regular contact. By contrast, he has not spoken to Jeremy Corbyn for 10 years. But he supports the Labourleader in speaking up for students, admires the way he has cut through with the public and can certainly see no prospect of another political party being launched in the UK. “The SDP was a failure. And the lesson I take from the failure was that you need to work from within the existing party system if you want to change the country, not engage in political fantasies of new parties.”

Infrastructure and education are his two big interests, he says, because both can transform society, and on education, he has strong personal reasons for this claim. Abandoned aged three by his mother, he spent much of his early life in a children’s home because his father, a waiter then postman, struggled to work and bring up Adonis and his sister. Thanks to Auntie Gladys, the inspirational head of the home in Camden, north London, he secured a state scholarship to a boarding school, Kingham Hill in Oxfordshire.

He was only the second pupil from there since the war to make it to Oxbridge. “It was a massive culture shock,” he says. “But I loved it. And it’s been the making of me.” He was in Oxford for “the 10 best years of my life”, first as a student at Keble College, then as a postgraduate at Nuffield, and taught for three years at Jesus. If there is one job he covets it is that of chancellor of Oxford, following in the footsteps of his hero, Roy Jenkins. For him, Oxford remains the best university in the world but “I think we have lots of very good universities. I think universities are one of the great civilising forces of life.”

He is clear about what he would like to see happen from next year. He wants top institutions to take the lead and unilaterally cut fee levels. He also wants any vice-chancellor paid more than £200,000 to cut their own pay – those paid over £300,000 should halve it. This, he claims, would not only help cut fees but give managers a better relationship with their university staff, whose basic pay rise last year was 1.1%.

He wants his own party to lead the debate and Johnson to promote cross-party agreement on a lower fees regime and reintroducing the state teaching grant. The 6.1% interest rate on student loans, he predicts, will go, and this will inevitably mean restoring the cap on student numbers, lifted two years ago by the then chancellor, George Osborne. Fears that this could reduce the number of disadvantaged students making it to university, he says, could be eased if higher level apprenticeships take off. He also believes universities should open all year to offer intensive two-year degrees.

Isn’t this an idea long supported by the Conservative government? Yes, he agrees, but, just as with government calls for restraint on vice-chancellors’ pay, nothing’s happened.

“When I was a minister I only went on about things I was going to make happen,” he says. “I very rarely talked about things I wasn’t.”

  • This article was amended on 8 August to correct the year when the decision was taken to raise tuition fees to up to £9,000 and to clarify that academics were given a basic pay rise of 1.1% last year, not a pay cap at that rate.