tech TWiST #171 News Stories

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News stories we're covering for This Week in Startups Episode #171, airing on Friday, July 29, will be posted here. Vote up the stories you most want to see discussed on the show. If you have suggestions for news topics that aren't listed here, leave them in the comments section below and we can add them! And don't forget to click through to Page 2 for more of the stories we're covering!

Brands will now be able to pay to have Twitter feature their tweets in the streams of their followers

Twitter has long promised that a solution like this for brands would debut

When a brand you follow tweets, they will automatically be placed at the top of a users stream, regardless of when they fall in the chronological timeline

San Francisco renter EJ used the service to rent out her apartment for one week

When she returned she found her locked closet smashed open and her passport, jewelry, cash and electronics missing

EJ says Airbnb has been helpful and the company says that they are working with the authorities and using their security infrastructure to assist the police in their investigation

LAUNCH got confirmation from Airbnb that an insurance offering is in the works (read more:

Just weeks after entering the US market, European music service startup Spotify was sued by streaming music service PacketVideo

The patent in question is for a "device for the distribution of music information in digital form"

PacketVideo bought the patent a several years ago and the idea contained within it is not new

As Verizon has already done, AT&T will limit data rates in an effort to curb the problem of data congestion that has hurt their 3G network performance since the iPhone’s debut

The heaviest users will see significant speed decreases once they go over a threshold of data, estimated to be somewhere between 2 and 4GB

Since the iPhone 1’s debut in the summer of 2007, AT&T has seen an 8000% increase in mobile data traffic

AT&T’s new data throttling is rumored to begin in the first week on October, as is Virgin Mobile’s--coincidence, or sign that the iPhone may be coming to yet another carrier?

According to disclosure documents just filed, Google and Facebook both spent record amounts on lobbyists this quarter

Earlier this year Facebook had to offer an explanation of its privacy efforts to the FTC and Google confirmed it was the target of an FTC antitrust investigation

Spending $2M in Q2 is the first time that Google has out-spent Microsoft on lobbyists

Facebook spent $320k in the second quarter (last year their most costly lobbyist spend in a quarter was $130k)

Google targeted online advertising, privacy issues, openness and competition in online services, and cloud computing, while Facebook targeted international regulation of software companies, restrictions on Internet access by foreign governments and federal privacy legislation

The partnership between the two brands launched on July 11 and sold 15,000 deals within the first three days

The first 25 deals to launch have almost all sold out

Deals that have performed best are for major US tourist destinations like Las Vegas

Expedia also revealed that its mobile apps (including stand-alone hotel booking apps) are downloaded an average of 36 times per minute, an increase of 20% over their Q1

Now live for one month, traffic on Google+ declined 3% from the week before

Although the service is still limiting sign-ups, it’s already an impressive 20 million users according to comScore

Lead writer Marshall Kirkpatrick tell us that it’s one of his top traffic sources at ReadWriteWeb

In related news, Google announced changes that will make the +1 button on websites up to three times faster

Google’s new tool uses their maps technology to allow users to search an book hotels through the property sites or deal sites like Expedia, and Priceline

Sorting options abound: hotel class, user ratings, average price per night, and how far above or below the current price is to the hotel’s average price

From there, you can make a "short list" of favorites you want to compare or review later

The "map view" features a free-form drawing tool that you can use to indicate the areas to search

The site is currently ad-free and only available for US hotels