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This article was published on April 8, 2012

This week in social media: Twitter sues spammers, Facebook subpoenas are revealed, and more

This week in social media: Twitter sues spammers, Facebook subpoenas are revealed, and more

It’s that time of week again when we take a look at the latest social media news, and highlight some of the biggest and most interesting stories.

While Instagram has been everywhere all week long, there’s a few other headlines that caught our attention, including one which reveals what subpoenaed Facebook files look like.

Instagram, Instagram, and a little more Instagram

It’s certainly been Instagram’s week in more way than one. With the long-awaited launch of Instagram for Android, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that the question, “When is Instagram coming to Android?” will never, ever, be asked again.

The launch has been met with as much fervour as would have been expected, following the many months of speculation, rumours and expectations.  The Android version of the app hit 1 million downloads in under 24 hours, and has received well over 130,000 five star ratings on Google Play.

Instagram shared a little bit of insight into how they handled the sudden influx of users. The post begins:

“The last few weeks (on the infrastructure side) have been all about capacity planning and preparation to get everything in place, but on launch day itself the challenge is to find problems quickly, get to the bottom of them, and roll out fixes ASAP.”

The post goes on to share all of the tools and techniques used to ensure that Instagram was on its toes, and ready to face any issues that arose.

We took a close look at the Android app, and of course there was the inevitable comparison with its iPhone counterpart.

The Next Web’s own Matthew Panzarino wrote:

Fragmentation rears its head once again with Instagram on Android, forcing the company to leave out features it could have otherwise shipped in order to support the wide array of OS versions and hardware out there. I know people like to pretend this isn’t a problem, but it is.

Aside from that, Instagram for Android is a great example of an iOS development house making a good translation of its app that manages to be similar on both platforms, while retaining a singular theme between them. If you’re an Android user that has been waiting, this is a faithful and mostly whole Instagram experience, enjoy.

Since its release, the Android app has seen a few updates, the latest of which allows users to install it on SD Cards, tablets and WiFi only handsets.

The release has been met with its fair share of criticism, the worst of which was seen from a group of iPhone users, who may even be going so far as to look for iPhone-only alternatives.

Alongside the Android release, All Things D reported some additional news on the investment and valuation front:

It looks like Instagram is close to wrapping up a Series B round led by Sequoia Capital, according to several sources close to the situation.

The maker of the fast-growing photo-sharing app, which just made its way to Android, is set to receive $50 million at a $500 million valuation, the sources said. Others joining the round could include DST Global.

Visits to Google+ grew 27% in March

We’ve all heard the reports explaining why Google+ is DOA, citing comScore figures that put average time spent on the site at just 3 minutes.

The most recent statistics from Experian Hitwise may hint otherwise. While Google has been reluctant to share figures about time spent on the social network, it has been more than happy to announce its growing userbase, reaching 90 million in January, and adding another 10 million, having recently reached the 100 million mark. According to Larry Page, that also happens to be 100 million active users.

So how is the social network doing with traffic? According to the latest numbers reported by Mashable, total visits to Google+ grew by 27%, reaching 61 million in March.

The graph below shows the steady growth that traffic on Google+ has enjoyed since its June 2011 launch.

Twitter finally goes after spammers

Mention a brand or product on Twitter and you’re bound to find yourself being spammed. Finally, Twitter is doing something about it – but it’s not what you might expect. In addition to beginning a fight with spammers on the Twitter front, it’s also attacking them on the legal front.

Twitter has decided to take 5 companies in particular to court, for encouraging and facilitating spam on the Twitter platform. The announcement read:

This morning, we filed suit in federal court in San Francisco against five of the most aggressive tool providers and spammers. With this suit, we’re going straight to the source. By shutting down tool providers, we will prevent other spammers from having these services at their disposal. Further, we hope the suit acts as a deterrent to other spammers, demonstrating the strength of our commitment to keep them off Twitter.

In addition to the lawsuit, Twitter is also launching an anti-spam measure, and is using its URL shortener to analyze link traffic, to get a better idea of what kind of content it leads to.

So who are the five companies Twitter is taking to court? The Next Web’s Jon Russell introduced us to the companies earlier this week:

The lawsuit names three firms — TweetAttacksTweetAdder and TweetBuddy – and individuals from two other organisations — James Lucero ( and Garland Harris ( — each of whom is charged with violating Twitter’s usage terms by selling software that encourages firms to spam the service .

He goes on to explain:

These services violate Twitter’s regulations by allowing users to spam other users with ease. You could set each system so that every time a user tweets about ‘the Superbowl’, your account follows them and sends them back a message about a company…Toyota, for example.

TweetBuddy and TweetAttacks have already been taken offline since the lawsuit was announced.

This is what Facebook hands over when subpoenaed by the police

It’s no secret that if Facebook is subpoenaed by the police, it has no choice but to hand over the data, but what does that data actually look like? The Boston Phoenix reveals just that.

As the site points out, Facebook has done everything in its power not to let its users know what kind of information is ending up in the authorities hands.

The Boston Police Department released case files relating to the murder of Julissa Brisman, a masseuse from New York City. After his arrest for the murder, Phillip Markoff committed suicide while in jail awaiting trail. Among the files were printouts from Markoff’s Facebook profile.

Carly Carioli of The Boston Phoenix writes:

“While the police were evidently comfortable releasing Markoff’s unredacted Facebook subpoena, we weren’t. Markoff may be dead, but the very-much-alive friends in his friend list were not subpoenaed, and yet their full names and Facebook ID’s were part of the document. So we took the additional step of redacting as much identifying information as we could…”

The redacted print outs have been uploaded to Scribd:

The black and white printouts are a far cry from what you’d expect from a Facebook page, but contains all of Markoff’s activity, wall posts made by his friends, photos he was tagged in, and his complete friends list.

Pinterest is the third most popular social network

It wouldn’t be a social media roundup without some mention of Pinterest these days, now would it? Venture Beat reports that Pinterest is now the third most popular social network, preceded only by Facebook and Twitter.

According to data from Experian Hitwise, it’s not surprising to find that Facebook receives the most monthly traffic in the US, with over 700 million visits, while Twitter trails a distant second, with 182 million.

Venture Beat was able to obtain more detailed figures, showing what it means exactly that Pinterest has snagged the third spot, ahead of LinkedIn and Google+. Pinterest’s achievement comes with over 104 million visits in March. Another interesting fact is that Tagged beat Google+ out, by over 1 million visits, for the number 5 spot.

Pinterest’s figures don’t really come as much of a surprise. The site has seen explosive growth over the past few months, making it into the top 30 most visited sites in the US. Between Pinterest’s traffic, and a survey revealing that 21% of Pinterest users purchased items they saw on the social network, marketeers would do well to get their brands onto the site.

We’ve got a few tips and tricks for brands on how to use on Pinterest, and don’t forget to check out Pinerly, an analytics app for the social network, giving you a little bit more insight into how your pins are doing.

Want to keep up with our weekly social media roundups? Check them out here.

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