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Week in review: Antisocial networking

Social-networking sites targeted by hackers, Marines, and NFL. Also, customizing Web browsers and iPhone gains.

Social media site Twitter wasn't always friendly to users this week.

The microblogging tool wasinaccessible for several hours on Thursday morning, followed by a period of slowness and sporadic time-outs (and more outright downtime). Twitter blamed an "ongoing" denial-of-service attack, but initially had little more to say. Social-networking site Facebook has also confirmed that it was targeted by a DoS attack that rendered some of its features slow or nonfunctional.

The denial-of-service attack was apparently the result of a coordinated attack on a Russian activist blogger with accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal, Google's Blogger, and YouTube. The pro-Georgian blogger, who uses the account name "Cyxymu," had accounts on all of the different sites that were attacked at the same time, Max Kelly, chief security officer at Facebook, told CNET News.

"It was a simultaneous attack across a number of properties targeting him to keep his voice from being heard," Kelly said. "We're actively investigating the source of the attacks and we hope to be able to find out the individuals involved in the back end and to take action against them if we can."

But Twitter's problems go beyond Internet attacks. In what might seem to some like a concerted assault by the forces of tradition on social media, the Marines and certain NFL teams have reportedly banned Twitter and Facebook.

A Marine Corps order has made the Corps' feelings known with characteristic subtlety: "These Internet sites in general are a proven haven for malicious actors and content and are particularly high risk due to information exposure, user-generated content, and targeting by adversaries."

NFL teams are also letting players know that they will be offsides if they tweet. At the beginning of training camp, Green Bay Packers players were apparently told that they would be fined $1,701 (the NFL maximum) for texting or tweeting during a team function. The Miami Dolphins do have their own Twitter page, but coach Tony Sparano told players to lay off the tweets in order not to create additional distractions.

ESPN employees will also apparently be out of bounds if they post any sports-related content on social-networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook without its permission. The news first came to light Tuesday when Ric Bucher, an NBA analyst for ESPN, tweeted that he had just received an network memo regarding tweeting:

The hammer just came down, tweeps: ESPN memo prohibiting tweeting info unless it serves ESPN. Kinda figured with was coming.

"Personal Web sites and blogs that contain sports content are not permitted," according to the memo. But, it says, "If opts not to post sports related social media content created by ESPN talent, you are not permitted to report, speculate, discuss or give any opinions on sports related topics or personalities on your personal platforms(.)"
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