Twitter Launches Clickable Stock Ticker Symbols "$"; Surpassed 500M Users Mark, 140M of them in the US; Suspend Account of a Journalist for Being Critical of critical of NBC's Olympics Coverage

Twitter quietly rolled out a new feature -- announced through a official tweet, the microblogging social network company said that users can now click on stock (or "ticker") symbols in any tweet to view search results for those stocks and companies.Now you can click on ticker symbols like $GE on to see search results […]

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Twitter quietly rolled out a new feature -- announced through a official tweet, the microblogging social network company said that users can now click on stock (or "ticker") symbols in any tweet to view search results for those stocks and companies.

To enable this feature, Twitter introduced a new hashtag called "Cashtag," which instead of the ubiquitous "#", adds "$" symbol in front of any ticker will instantly provide context for that stock, aggregating all tweets that use the ticker under one label.

To explain, Twitter gives the example of "$GE" -- General Electric's ticker symbol, allowing users to peruse conversations happening around those stocks in realtime.

For example, you can already click the following:

@ - When paired with a username, you're taken to a profile
# - When paired with a word, you are taken to a stream for the "hashtag"
$ - When paired with a stock symbol, you are taken to tweets about that company

StockTwits, who has boasted a similiar features, responded to Twitter's news features with its co-founder and CEO Howard Lindzon, in a blog post entitled "The Twitter Hijacking of Stocktwits $ … The Cashtag" saying, "It's interesting that Twitter has hijacked our creation of $TICKER ie. $AAPL. It only took four years to 'fill' this hole, though a few months back they told me in a detailed email it was not a hole they wanted to fill."

"I am disappointed of course that Twitter is hijacking our idea and time (will only confuse the masses), but Stocktwits moved beyond that basic functionality 4 years ago. In a dirty way, it's the ultimate compliment so we will take it as such for the moment and keep rolling out functionality that makes us the best real-time communication platform for people that love stocks and markets," Lindzon concludes.

Twitter suspends Journalist account for criticism over NBC's Olympics coverage

In other Twitter news, the company under NBC's pressure shutter account of journalist Guy Adam who was critical of Olympics coverage.

Adams, who was highly critical of NBC's Olympics TV coverage among the tweets posted the email address of the president of NBC Olympics. To which, the network complained, citing Twitter's privacy policy, and Twitter suspended the account.

NBC acknowledging the suspension in a statement said, "We filed a complaint with Twitter because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives".

Adams' offending tweet reads,

"guyadams Guy Adams
The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven't started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think! Email:".

Adams reports that Twitter support representatives told him that the aforementioned tweet is the reason for the suspension of his account.

"Since I'm still trying to get to bottom of the hows and whys of my suspension, which conceivably raises various ethical issues relevant to journalism in the online era, it seems premature to comment further", Adams writes. "Except, perhaps to say that I do not wish Mr Zenkel any harm, and to share a transcript of my most recent email to Rachel Bremer, Twitter's head of European PR".

In the e-mail, Adams tells Bremer that no rule was broken as Zenkel's e-mail is not private - as, a simple search for the executive's e-mail address will turn the information.

The policy against the sharing of certain information on Twitter only covers "non-public, personal e-mail addresses".

Update: Twitter apologised for the incident and restore the Adam's Twitter account stating, "We want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up. The team working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership did proactively identify a Tweet that was in violation of the Twitter Rules and encouraged them to file a support ticket with our Trust and Safety team to report the violation, as has now been reported publicly."

"Our Trust and Safety team did not know that part of the story and acted on the report as they would any other," Twitter said.

Finally, Twitter has reached a milestone, according to a Paris-based analyst group Semiocast, the company has now passed the half billion accounts mark in June 2012, including more than 140 million in the U.S. alone.

Semiocast has analyzed "517 million of Twitter user profiles created before July 1st 2012 as well as a sample of 1.058 billion public tweets posted from June 1st to June 30th 2012. With 141.8M accounts created before July 1st, 2012, the United States now represent 27.4% of all Twitter users, down from 28.1% in January. In June 2012, these users posted 25.8% of all public tweets: the United States still dominate Twitter nations but growth is higher abroad," the company said.

"User-base growth is slowing in Japan and Korea, yet Japan remains one of the most active countries. In June 2012, the top three cities by number of tweets were Jakarta, Tokyo and London," Semiocast said.

Twitter Passter 500 Million Users Mark in June 2012