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Header images change Twitter's appearance

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Twitter has reworked its interface a bit to include header images, not unlike the big header image on your Facebook timeline page.

In the past, it was the background image on your profile that made your profile page distinctive, but now your header will be the most noticeable feature. I also noticed that when Twitter switched to this new design, it for some reason left my old background image untiled, and looking a little forlorn sitting there in one corner of the screen.

If you have a Twitter account, go to your home page, click on the gear wheel in the top navigation bar, choose "settings" from the drop-down menu, and then choose "design" from the left-column menu. You can then upload a horizontal header image, and, if desired, change your background image. Even if you don't change it, you may need to click the little box so that your background image will "tile" -- repeat itself to fill the window. If you don't want a background image, you can just choose a background color from the same page.

Hashtag haven

Maybe it's just me, but Twitter seems to be on a definite upswing in recent months. I see more and more TV shows, events and organziations publicizing Twitter usernames or promoting Twitter hashtags, which are little phrases preceded by a hash mark -- like #chargecomplete -- which you use to make your Twitter update easy to find. Someone can look for posts on a given subject by using Twitter's search function to find that hashtag. Suggesting a hashtag helps make sure that everyone labels their posts the same way. If some people hash-tagged posts about the Celebration with #twhnc, others with #celebration and still others with #thecelebration, it might take several different searches to find the relevant posts. But if the Celebration were to suggest a standardized hashtag, and everyone were to use that same hashtag, it would make searching much easier.

When I was curating social media posts for our Storify feature during the Celebration, few people were using hashtags, and so I had to just search the body of Twitter updates for whatever terms seemed to make sense -- but it was hard to find terms that were broad enough to catch all of the posts for which I was looking and yet narrow enough to find only posts (or at least close enough that I could sift through the results and find what I wanted).

Privacy breach not real, says web site

Meanwhile, at that other big social network, the news website TechCrunch is reporting that rumors of a huge Facebook privacy breach are just that -- rumors. Users began complaining earlier this week that private messages they sent to other Facebook users in 2009 had begun showing up on their Timeline pages as public posts. But both TechCrunch and Facebook's own security team say that's not the case -- the items in question were always publicly-visible wall posts, not private messages.

When users first started building their Facebook friend lists, and before the service became a virtual public utility, a lot of people were probably more open with what they shared on Facebook.

Now that so many more people are using the service, and our friend lists have grown exponentially, I imagine it's easy to look at those old updates and think, "I would never have shared that so publicly. That must have been a private message between me and one of my friends."

But, according to Facebook and TechCrunch, those were public messages all along.

--John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette and covers county government.



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John I. Carney
Loose Talk / Charge Complete
John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.