Twitter (/ˈtwɪtər/) is an online news and social networking service
on which users post and interact with messages known as "tweets".
Tweets were originally restricted to 140 characters, but on November
7, 2017, this limit was doubled for all languages except Japanese,
Korean, and Chinese. Registered users can post tweets, but those
who are unregistered can only read them. Users access
its website interface, through
Short Message Service
Short Message Service (SMS) or
mobile-device application software ("app"). Twitter, Inc. is based
in San Francisco, California, and has more than 25 offices around the
Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz
Stone, and Evan Williams and launched in July of that year. The
service rapidly gained worldwide popularity. In 2012, more than 100
million users posted 340 million tweets a day, and the service
handled an average of 1.6 billion search queries per day.
In 2013, it was one of the ten most-visited websites and has been
described as "the
SMS of the Internet". As of 2016, Twitter
had more than 319 million monthly active users. On the day of the
2016 U.S. presidential election,
Twitter proved to be the largest
source of breaking news, with 40 million election-related tweets sent
by 10 p.m. (Eastern Time) that day.
1.1 Creation and initial reaction
1.2.2 2015 and slow growth
Initial public offering
Initial public offering (IPO)
4.1.3 Trending topics
4.2 Adding and following content
4.3 Verified accounts
4.5 Third-party applications
4.6 Related headlines feature
4.8 Streaming video
7.4 Privacy, security, and harassment
7.5 Open source
7.6 Innovators patent agreement
7.7 URL shortener
7.8 Integrated photo-sharing service
9.1 Issues and controversies
9.2.1 Trending topics
9.2.2 Trust & Safety Council
9.3.1 Instant, short, and frequent communication
9.3.2 Emergency use
9.3.4 Public figures
9.3.5 World leaders
11.1 User accounts with large follower base
11.2 Oldest accounts
11.3 Record tweets
12 See also
14 Further reading
15 External links
Further information: Timeline of Twitter
Creation and initial reaction
A sketch, c. 2006, by Jack Dorsey, envisioning an SMS-based social
Twitter's origins lie in a "daylong brainstorming session" held by
board members of the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, then an
undergraduate student at New York University, introduced the idea of
an individual using an
SMS service to communicate with a small
group. The original project code name for the service was
twttr, an idea that Williams later ascribed to Noah Glass,
Flickr and the five-character length of American
codes. The decision was also partly due to the fact that the domain
twitter.com was already in use, and it was six months after the launch
of twttr that the crew purchased the domain and changed the name of
the service to Twitter. The developers initially considered
"10958" as a short code, but later changed it to "40404" for "ease of
use and memorability". Work on the project started on March 21,
2006, when Dorsey published the first
Twitter message at 9:50 p.m.
Pacific Standard Time (PST): "just setting up my twttr". Dorsey has
explained the origin of the "Twitter" title:
...we came across the word 'twitter', and it was just perfect. The
definition was 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' and
'chirps from birds'. And that's exactly what the product was.
Twitter prototype, developed by Dorsey and contractor
Florian Weber, was used as an internal service for
and the full version was introduced publicly on July 15, 2006. In
October 2006, Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Dorsey, and other members of
Odeo formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo, together with its
assets — including Odeo.com and Twitter.com — from the
investors and shareholders. Williams fired Glass, who was silent
about his part in Twitter's startup until 2011.
Twitter spun off
into its own company in April 2007. Williams provided insight into
the ambiguity that defined this early period in a 2013 interview:
With Twitter, it wasn't clear what it was. They called it a social
network, they called it microblogging, but it was hard to define,
because it didn't replace anything. There was this path of discovery
with something like that, where over time you figure out what it is.
Twitter actually changed from what we thought it was in the beginning,
which we described as status updates and a social utility. It is that,
in part, but the insight we eventually came to was
Twitter was really
more of an information network than it is a social network.
The tipping point for Twitter's popularity was the 2007 South by
Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference. During the event, Twitter
usage increased from 20,000 tweets per day to 60,000.
Twitter people cleverly placed two 60-inch plasma screens in the
conference hallways, exclusively streaming
Twitter messages," remarked
Newsweek's Steven Levy. "Hundreds of conference-goers kept tabs on
each other via constant twitters. Panelists and speakers mentioned the
service, and the bloggers in attendance touted it."
Reaction at the conference was highly positive. Blogger Scott Beale
Twitter was "absolutely ruling" SXSWi. Social software
researcher danah boyd said
Twitter was "owning" the conference.
Twitter staff received the festival's Web Award prize with the remark
"we'd like to thank you in 140 characters or less. And we just
did!" The first unassisted off-Earth
Twitter message was posted
International Space Station
International Space Station by
NASA astronaut T. J. Creamer
on January 22, 2010. By late November 2010, an average of a dozen
updates per day were posted on the astronauts' communal account,
NASA has also hosted over 25 "tweetups", events that
provide guests with VIP access to
NASA facilities and speakers with
the goal of leveraging participants' social networks to further the
outreach goals of NASA. In August 2010, the company appointed Adam
News Corp.'s Fox Audience Network as president of
The company experienced rapid initial growth. It had 400,000 tweets
posted per quarter in 2007. This grew to 100 million tweets posted per
quarter in 2008. In February 2010,
Twitter users were sending 50
million tweets per day. By March 2010, the company recorded over
70,000 registered applications. As of June 2010, about 65 million
tweets were posted each day, equaling about 750 tweets sent each
second, according to Twitter. As of March 2011, that was about 140
million tweets posted daily. As noted on Compete.com, Twitter
moved up to the third-highest-ranking social networking site in
January 2009 from its previous rank of twenty-second.
Jack Dorsey, co-founder and
CEO of Twitter, in 2009
Twitter's usage spikes during prominent events. For example, a record
was set during the
2010 FIFA World Cup
2010 FIFA World Cup when fans wrote 2,940 tweets
per second in the thirty-second period after Japan scored against
Cameroon on June 14. The record was broken again when 3,085 tweets per
second were posted after the Los Angeles Lakers' victory in the 2010
NBA Finals on June 17, and then again at the close of Japan's
victory over Denmark in the World Cup when users published 3,283
tweets per second. The record was set again during the 2011 FIFA
Women's World Cup Final between Japan and the United States, when
7,196 tweets per second were published. When American singer
Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009,
Twitter servers crashed after
users were updating their status to include the words "Michael
Jackson" at a rate of 100,000 tweets per hour. The current record
as of August 3, 2013 was set in Japan, with 143,199 tweets per second
during a television screening of the movie Castle in the Sky
(beating the previous record of 33,388, also set by Japan for the
television screening of the same movie).
Twitter acquired application developer Atebits on April 11, 2010.
Atebits had developed the Apple Design Award-winning
Tweetie for the Mac and iPhone. The application, now called "Twitter"
and distributed free of charge, is the official
Twitter client for the
iPhone, iPad and Mac.
From September through October 2010, the company began rolling out
"New Twitter", an entirely revamped edition of twitter.com. Changes
included the ability to see pictures and videos without leaving
Twitter itself by clicking on individual tweets which contain links to
images and clips from a variety of supported websites including
YouTube and Flickr, and a complete overhaul of the interface, which
shifted links such as '@mentions' and 'Retweets' above the Twitter
stream, while 'Messages' and 'Log Out' became accessible via a black
bar at the very top of twitter.com. As of November 1, 2010, the
company confirmed that the "New
Twitter experience" had been rolled
out to all users.
On April 5, 2011,
Twitter tested a new homepage and phased out the
"Old Twitter". However, a glitch came about after the page was
launched, so the previous "retro" homepage was still in use until the
issues were resolved; the new homepage was reintroduced on April
20. On December 8, 2011,
Twitter overhauled its website once
more to feature the "Fly" design, which the service says is easier for
new users to follow and promotes advertising. In addition to the Home
tab, the Connect and Discover tabs were introduced along with a
redesigned profile and timeline of Tweets. The site's layout has been
compared to that of Facebook. On February 21, 2012, it was
Yandex agreed to a partnership. Yandex, a
Russian search engine, finds value within the partnership due to
Twitter's real time news feeds. Twitter's director of business
development explained that it is important to have
Twitter users go. On March 21, 2012,
Twitter celebrated its
sixth birthday while also announcing that it had 140 million users and
340 million tweets per day. The number of users was up 40% from their
September 2011 number, which was said to have been at 100 million at
In April 2012,
Twitter announced that it was opening an office in
Detroit, with the aim of working with automotive brands and
Twitter also expanded its office in
Dublin. On June 5, 2012, a modified logo was unveiled through the
company blog, removing the text to showcase the slightly redesigned
bird as the sole symbol of Twitter. On October 5, 2012,
Twitter acquired a video clip company called Vine that launched in
Twitter released Vine as a standalone app that
allows users to create and share six-second looping video clips on
January 24, 2013. Vine videos shared on
Twitter are visible directly
Twitter feeds. Due to an influx of inappropriate
content, it is now rated 17+ in Apple's app store. On December 18,
Twitter announced it had surpassed 200 million monthly active
Twitter hit 100 million monthly active users in September
On January 28, 2013,
Crashlytics in order to build
out its mobile developer products.
On April 18, 2013,
Twitter launched a music app called
for the iPhone. On August 28, 2013,
Twitter acquired Trendrr,
followed by the acquisition of MoPub on September 9, 2013. As of
September 2013, the company's data showed that 200 million users send
over 400 million tweets daily, with nearly 60% of tweets sent from
mobile devices. On June 4, 2014,
Twitter announced that it will
acquire Namo Media, a technology firm specializing in "native
advertising" for mobile devices. On June 19, 2014, Twitter
announced that it has reached an undisclosed deal to buy SnappyTV, a
service that helps edit and share video from television
broadcasts. The company was helping broadcasters and rights
holders to share video content both organically across social and via
Twitter's Amplify program. In July 2014,
Twitter announced that it
intends to buy a young company called CardSpring for an undisclosed
sum. CardSpring enables retailers to offer online shoppers coupons
that they can automatically sync to their credit cards in order to
receive discounts when they shop in physical stores. On July 31,
Twitter announced that it has acquired a small password-security
startup called Mitro. On October 29, 2014,
Twitter announced a new
partnership with IBM. The partnership is intended to help businesses
Twitter data to understand their customers, businesses and other
2015 and slow growth
On February 11, 2015,
Twitter announced that it had acquired Niche, an
advertising network for social media stars, founded by
Rob Fishman and
Darren Lachtman. The acquisition price was reportedly $50
million. On March 13, 2015,
Twitter announced its acquisition of
Periscope, an app that allows live streaming of video. In April
2015, the Twitter.com desktop homepage changed.
that it has acquired TellApart, a commerce ads tech firm, with $532
million stock. Later in the year it became apparent that
growth had slowed, according to Fortune, Business Insider,
Marketing Land and other news websites including Quartz (in
2016). In June 2016,
Twitter acquired an artificial intelligence
startup called Magic Pony for $150 million.
Initial public offering
Initial public offering (IPO)
Twitter's San Francisco, California, headquarters, as seen from a
corner on Market Street
On September 12, 2013,
Twitter announced that it had filed papers with
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ahead of a planned
stock market listing. It revealed its prospectus in an 800-page
Twitter planned to raise US$1 billion as the basis for its
stock market debut. The IPO filing states that "200,000,000+
monthly active users" access
Twitter and "500,000,000+ tweets per day"
are posted. In an October 15, 2013 amendment to their SEC S-1
Twitter declared that they would list on the New York
Stock Exchange (NYSE), quashing speculation that their stock would
trade on the
NASDAQ exchange. This decision was widely viewed to be a
reaction to the botched initial public offering of Facebook. On
November 6, 2013, 70 million shares were priced at US$26 and
issued by lead underwriter Goldman Sachs.
On November 7, 2013, the first day of trading on the NYSE, Twitter
shares opened at $26.00 and closed at US$44.90, giving the company a
valuation of around US$31 billion. The paperwork from November 7
shows that among the founders, Williams received a sum of US$2.56
billion and Dorsey received US$1.05 billion, while Costolo's payment
was US$345 million. On February 5, 2014,
Twitter published its
first results as a public company, showing a net loss of $511 million
in the fourth quarter of 2013. On January 5, 2016,
Dorsey commented on a report that
Twitter planned to expand its
character limit to 10,000 (private messages already had the longer
limit as of July), requiring users to click to see anything beyond 140
characters. He said while
Twitter would "never lose that feeling" of
speed, users could do more with the text.
In September 2016,
Twitter shares rose 20% after a report that it had
received takeover approaches. Potential buyers were Alphabet
(parent company of Google), Microsoft,
Salesforce.com, Verizon, and The Walt Disney
Company. Twitter's board of directors were open to a deal,
which could have come by the end of 2016. However, no deal
was made, with reports in October stating that all the potential
buyers dropped out partly due to concerns over abuse and harassment on
the service. In June of 2017,
Twitter revamped its
dashboard to improve the new user experience.
As chief executive officer, Dorsey saw the startup through two rounds
of capital funding by the venture capitalists who backed the
company. On October 16, 2008, Williams took over the role of
CEO, and Dorsey became chairman of the board. On October 4, 2010,
Williams announced that he was stepping down as CEO. Dick Costolo,
formerly Twitter's chief operating officer, became CEO. On October 4,
2010, Williams made an announcement saying that he will stay with the
company and "be completely focused on product strategy".
According to The New York Times, "Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Costolo forged a
close relationship" when Williams was away. According to PC
Magazine, Williams was "no longer involved in the day-to-day goings on
at the company". He was focused on developing a new startup, and
became a member of Twitter's board of directors, and promised to "help
in any way I can". In 2011, Stone was still with
Twitter but was
AOL as an "advisor on volunteer efforts and
philanthropy". In January 2014 Stone announced the release of
Jelly, a 'social Q&A network for mobile'. Dorsey rejoined
Twitter in March 2011, as executive chairman focusing on product
development. At that time he split his schedule with Square (where he
is CEO), whose offices are within walking distance of Twitter's in San
In September 2011, board members and investors Fred Wilson and Bijan
Sabet resigned from Twitter's Board of Directors. In October
Twitter announced it had hired former
Google executive Matt
Derella to become their new director of business agency
Twitter named former
Goldman Sachs executive Anthony
Noto as the company's
CFO in July 2014, with an "annual salary of
$250,000 and one-time restricted stock options of 1.5 million shares
... valued at $61.5 million". On June 10, 2015,
Dick Costolo would resign on July 1, 2015. Noto was said
to be considered a potential replacement for outgoing CEO
Costolo. On October 14, 2015, former
Google chief business
Omid Kordestani became executive chairman, replacing Dorsey
who remains CEO. On January 26, 2016, Leslie Berland, former
executive vice president of global advertising, marketing, and digital
partnerships at American Express, was named chief marketing
officer. In November 2016, COO Adam Bain announced his
Anthony Noto took over Bain's role. A
month later, on December 20, 2016, CTO Adam Messinger announced that
he too was leaving.
July 15, 2006 – September 14, 2010
September 14, 2010 – June 5, 2012
Twitter has become internationally identifiable by its signature bird
logo, or the
Twitter Bird. The original logo, which was simply the
word "Twitter", was in use from its launch in March 2006 until
September 2010. It was accompanied by an image of a bird which was a
piece of clip art created by the British graphic designer Simon
Oxley. A slightly modified version with "Larry the Bird" next to
the old logo succeeded the first style when the website underwent its
first redesign. A tweet from an employee that works on the company's
platform and API discussed the evolution of the "Larry the Bird" logo
with Twitter's creative director and it was revealed that it was named
Larry Bird of the NBA's
Boston Celtics fame. This detail had
been confirmed when the Boston Celtics' director of interactive media
Biz Stone about it in August 2011.
June 5, 2012 – present
Twitter unveiled its third logo redesign, replacing Larry the
Bird with an updated icon simply named as the "
Twitter Bird," as seen
to the right. As of this logo revision, the word "Twitter" and the
lowercase letter "t" are no longer used, with the bird becoming the
sole symbol for the company's branding. According to Douglas
Bowman, designer of Twitter, the new logo resembles a mountain
Twitter account page for, demonstrating the
account-customized timeline view which shows tweets in reverse
Tweets are publicly visible by default, but senders can restrict
message delivery to just their followers. Users can tweet via the
Twitter website, compatible external applications (such as for
smartphones), or by
Short Message Service
Short Message Service (SMS) available in certain
countries. Users may subscribe to other users' tweets—this is
known as "following" and subscribers are known as "followers" or
"tweeps", a portmanteau of
Twitter and peeps. Individual tweets
can be forwarded by other users to their own feed, a process known as
a "retweet". Users can also "like" (formerly "favorite") individual
Twitter allows users to update their profile via their
mobile phone either by text messaging or by apps released for certain
smartphones and tablets.
Twitter has been compared to a web-based
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client. In a 2009 Time essay,
technology author Steven Johnson described the basic mechanics of
Twitter as "remarkably simple":
As a social network,
Twitter revolves around the principle of
followers. When you choose to follow another
Twitter user, that user's
tweets appear in reverse chronological order on your main Twitter
page. If you follow 20 people, you'll see a mix of tweets scrolling
down the page: breakfast-cereal updates, interesting new links, music
recommendations, even musings on the future of education.
According to research published in April 2014, around 44 percent of
user accounts have never tweeted.
The first tweet was posted by
Jack Dorsey (creator) at 12:50 PM PST on
March 21, 2006 and read "just setting up my twittr". In 2009, the
first tweet was sent from space. US astronauts Nicola Stott and Jeff
Williams took part in a live 'tweetup' from the International Space
Station with around 35 members of the public at
Washington, DC, USA.
Content of tweets according to Pear Analytics
Pointless babble (40.1%)
Pass-along value (8.7%)
San Antonio-based market-research firm Pear Analytics analyzed 2,000
tweets (originating from the
United States and in English) over a
two-week period in August 2009 from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm (CST) and
separated them into six categories. Pointless babble made up 40%,
with 38% being conversational. Pass-along value had 9%, self-promotion
6% with spam and news each making 4%.
Despite Jack Dorsey's own open contention that a message on
"a short burst of inconsequential information", social networking
researcher Danah Boyd responded to the Pear Analytics survey by
arguing that what the Pear researchers labelled "pointless babble" is
better characterized as "social grooming" and/or "peripheral
awareness" (which she justifies as persons "want[ing] to know what the
people around them are thinking and doing and feeling, even when
co-presence isn't viable"). Similarly, a survey of
found that a more specific social role of passing along messages that
include a hyperlink is an expectation of reciprocal linking by
"Retweet" and "
Twitter hashtag" redirect here. For more about
hashtags, see Hashtag.
Mention (blogging) § @ (At sign)
Users can group posts together by topic or type by use of hashtags –
words or phrases prefixed with a "#" sign. Similarly, the "@" sign
followed by a username is used for mentioning or replying to other
users. To repost a message from another
Twitter user and share it
with one's own followers, a user can click the retweet button within
In late 2009, the "
Twitter Lists" feature was added, making it
possible for users to follow ad hoc lists of authors instead of
Through SMS, users can communicate with
Twitter through five gateway
numbers: short codes for the United States, Canada, India, New
Zealand, and an Isle of Man-based number for international use. There
is also a short code in the United Kingdom which is only accessible to
those on the Vodafone, O2 and Orange networks. In India,
Twitter only supports tweets from Bharti Airtel, an
alternative platform called smsTweet was set up by a user to work
on all networks. A similar platform called GladlyCast exists for
mobile phone users in Singapore and Malaysia.
The tweets were set to a largely constrictive 140-character limit for
SMS messaging, introducing the shorthand notation
and slang commonly used in
SMS messages. The 140-character limit also
increased the usage of
URL shortening services such as bit.ly, goo.gl,
tinyurl.com, tr.im, and other content-hosting services such as
TwitPic, memozu.com and NotePub to accommodate multimedia content and
text longer than 140 characters. Since June 2011,
Twitter has used its
own t.co domain for automatic shortening of all URLs posted on its
site, making other link shorteners unnecessary for staying within
Twitter's 140 character limit.
Twitter announced that media such as photos, videos, and the
person's handle, would not count against the already constrictive 140
character limit. A user photo post used to count for a large chunk of
a Tweet, about 24 characters. Attachments and links would also no
longer be part of the character limit. In 2017,
to 280-character limit tweets. Under the new limit, glyphs are
counted as a variable number of characters, depending upon the script
they are from: most European letters and punctuation forms count as
one character, while each
CJK glyph counts as two, so that only 140
such glyphs can be used in a tweet.
Countries and cities with local trending topics in Twitter
A word, phrase, or topic that is mentioned at a greater rate than
others is said to be a "trending topic". Trending topics become
popular either through a concerted effort by users or because of an
event that prompts people to talk about a specific topic. These
Twitter and their users to understand what is happening in
the world and what people's opinions are about it.
Trending topics are sometimes the result of concerted efforts and
manipulations by preteen and teenaged fans of certain celebrities or
cultural phenomena, particularly musicians like
Lady Gaga (known as
Justin Bieber (Beliebers),
Rihanna (Rih Navy) and
One Direction (Directioners), and novel series Twilight (Twihards) and
Harry Potter (Potterheads).
Twitter has altered the trend algorithm in
the past to prevent manipulation of this type with limited
Twitter web interface displays a list of trending topics on a
sidebar on the home page, along with sponsored content (see image).
Twitter often censors trending hashtags that are claimed to be abusive
Twitter censored the #Thatsafrican and
#thingsdarkiessay hashtags after users complained that they found the
hashtags offensive. There are allegations that
#NaMOinHyd from the trending list and added an Indian National
Adding and following content
There are numerous tools for adding content, monitoring content and
conversations including Twitter's own TweetDeck, Salesforce.com,
HootSuite, and Twitterfeed.com. As of 2009[update], fewer than half of
tweets posted were posted using the web user interface with most users
using third-party applications (based on an analysis of 500 million
tweets by Sysomos).
Twitter profile of Twitter, Inc. The blue check mark
right of the profile name indicates that it is a verified account.
In June 2009, after being criticized by
Kanye West and sued by Tony La
Russa over unauthorized accounts run by impersonators, Twitter
launched their 'Verified Accounts' program.
that an account with a verification badge indicates "we've been in
contact with the person or entity the account is representing and
verified that it is approved." After the beta period, Twitter
stated in their FAQ that the company "proactively verifies accounts on
an ongoing basis to make it easier for users to find who they’re
looking for" and that they "do not accept requests for verification
from the general public."
In July 2016,
Twitter announced a public application process to grant
verified status to an account "if it is determined to be of public
interest" and that verification "does not imply an
endorsement." As of November 2017,
Twitter continued to
deny verification of
Julian Assange despite his requests. In
November 2017, the company suspended the verification process and
announced plans to refine it in response to backlash after white
Jason Kessler had his account verified on
Verified status allows access to some features unavailable to other
users, such as only seeing mentions from other verified accounts.
In a March 8, 2018 live-stream on Twitter's Periscope, Dorsey
discussed the idea of allowing any user to get a verified account.
“The intention is to open verification to everyone, and to do it in
a way that is scalable where [
Twitter is] not in the way,” Dorsey
said. “And people can verify more facts about themselves, and we
don’t have to be the judge or imply any bias on our part.”
The mobile version of Twitter
Twitter has mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows 10, Windows
Phone, BlackBerry, and Nokia S40. Users can also tweet by sending
SMS. In April 2017,
Twitter Lite, a
progressive web app designed for regions with unreliable and slow
Internet connections, with a size of less than one megabyte, designed
for devices with limited storage capacity.
This has been released in countries with slow internet connection such
as the Philippines.
For many years,
Twitter has limited the use of third party
applications accessing the service by implementing a 100,000 user
limit per application. Since August 2010, third-party Twitter
applications have been required to use OAuth, an authentication method
that does not require users to enter their password into the
authenticating application. This was done to increase security and
improve the user experience.
Related headlines feature
This feature adds websites to the bottom of a tweet's permalink page.
If a website embedded a tweet onto one of their stories, the tweet
will show the websites that mentioned the tweet. This feature was
Twitter so if the viewer doesn't understand what the tweet
means, they can click on the sites to read more about what the person
is talking about.
Twitter began to roll out the ability to attach poll
questions to tweets. Polls are open for up to 7 days, and voters are
not personally identified.
Twitter began to place a larger focus on live streaming video
programming, hosting various events including streams of the
Republican and Democratic conventions during the U.S. presidential
campaign as part of a partnership with CBS News,
ESL eSports events, and winning a bid for non-exclusive streaming
rights to ten
Thursday Night Football games in the 2016
During an event in New York in May 2017,
Twitter announced that it
planned to construct a 24-hour streaming video channel hosted within
the service, featuring content from various partners. CEO
Jack Dorsey stated that the digital video strategy was part of a goal
Twitter to be "the first place that anyone hears of anything going
on that matters to them"; as of the first quarter of 2017,
over 200 content partners, who streamed over 800 hours of video over
Twitter announced a number of new and expanded partnerships for its
streaming video services at the event, including Bloomberg, BuzzFeed,
Cheddar (Opening Bell and Closing Bell shows; the latter was
introduced in October 2016) IMG Fashion (coverage of fashion events),
Live Nation Entertainment
Live Nation Entertainment (streaming concert events), Major League
Baseball (weekly online game stream, plus a weekly program with live
look-ins and coverage of trending stories),
MTV and BET (red carpet
coverage for their
MTV Video Music Awards,
MTV Movie & TV Awards,
and BET Awards),
NFL Network (the Monday-Thursday news program NFL
Blitz Live, and Sunday Fantasy Gameday), the
PGA Tour (PGA
Tour Live coverage of early tournament rounds preceding television
coverage), The Players' Tribune,
Ben Silverman and Howard T.
Owens' Propagate (daily entertainment show #WhatsHappening), The Verge
(weekly technology show Circuit Breaker: The Verge’s Gadget Show),
Stadium (a new digital sports network being formed by Silver Chalice
and Sinclair Broadcast Group) and the
In March 2018
Twitter is ranked the twelfth most visited website by
Alexa's web traffic analysis. Daily user estimates vary as the
company does not publish statistics on active accounts. A February
Compete.com blog entry ranked
Twitter as the third most used
social network based on their count of 6 million unique monthly
visitors and 55 million monthly visits. In 2009,
a monthly user retention rate of forty percent.
annual growth of 1,382 percent, increasing from 475,000 unique
visitors in February 2008 to 7 million in February 2009. Twitter's
annual growth rate decreased from 7.8 percent in 2015 to 3.4 percent
in 2017. An April 2017 a statista.com blog entry ranked Twitter
as the tenth most used social network based on their count of 319
million monthly visitors. Its global user base in 2017 was 328
See also: Black Twitter
Twitter.com Top5 Global Markets by Reach (%)
Note: Visitor age 15+, home and work locations. Excludes visitation
from public computers such as
Internet cafes or access from mobile
phones or PDAs.
Twitter was mainly used by older adults who might not have
used other social sites before Twitter, said Jeremiah Owyang, an
industry analyst studying social media. "Adults are just catching up
to what teens have been doing for years," he said. According to
comScore only eleven percent of Twitter's users are aged twelve to
seventeen. comScore attributed this to Twitter's "early adopter
period" when the social network first gained popularity in business
settings and news outlets attracting primarily older users. However,
comScore also stated in 2009 that
Twitter had begun to "filter more
into the mainstream", and "along with it came a culture of celebrity
Britney Spears and
Ashton Kutcher joined the ranks of the
According to a study by
Sysomos in June 2009, women make up a slightly
Twitter demographic than men—fifty-three percent over
forty-seven percent. It also stated that five percent of users
accounted for seventy-five percent of all activity, and that New York
City has more
Twitter users than other cities.
According to Quancast, twenty-seven million people in the US used
Twitter as of September 3, 2009. Sixty-three percent of
are under thirty-five years old; sixty percent of
Twitter users are
Caucasian, but a higher than average (compared to other Internet
properties) are African American/black (sixteen percent) and Hispanic
(eleven percent); fifty-eight percent of
Twitter users have a total
household income of at least US$60,000. The prevalence of African
Twitter usage and in many popular hashtags has been the
subject of research studies.
On September 7, 2011,
Twitter announced that it had 100 million active
users logging in at least once a month and 50 million active users
In an article published on January 6, 2012,
Twitter was confirmed to
be the biggest social media network in Japan, with
closely in second. comScore confirmed this, stating that Japan was the
only country in the world where
Twitter leads Facebook.
On March 31, 2014,
Twitter announced there were 255 million monthly
active users (MAUs) and 198 million mobile MAUs. In 2013, there
were over 100 million users actively using
Twitter daily and about 500
million Tweets every day, with about 29% of users checking
Twitter multiple times a day.
In 2012, the country with the most active users on
Twitter was the
United States. A 2016 Pew research poll found that
used by 24% of all online US adults. It was equally popular with men
and women (24% and 25% of online Americans respectively), but more
popular with younger (36% of 18-29 year olds) generations.
San Francisco headquarters located at 1355 Market St.
Twitter raised over US$57 million from venture capitalist growth
funding, although exact figures are not publicly disclosed. Twitter's
first A round of funding was for an undisclosed amount that is rumored
to have been between US$1 million and US$5 million. Its
second B round of funding in 2008 was for US$22 million and
its third C round of funding in 2009 was for US$35 million from
Institutional Venture Partners and
Benchmark Capital along with an
undisclosed amount from other investors including Union Square
Ventures, Spark Capital, and Insight Venture Partners.
backed by Union Square Ventures, Digital Garage, Spark Capital, and
In May 2008,
The Industry Standard remarked that Twitter's long-term
viability is limited by a lack of revenue.
Twitter board member
Todd Chaffee forecast that the company could profit from e-commerce,
noting that users may want to buy items directly from
Twitter since it
already provides product recommendations and promotions.
By March 2009 communications consultant Bill Douglass predicted in an
Twitter would be worth $1 billion within six
months, which came to pass when the company closed a financing
round valuing it at $1 billion in September of that year.
The company raised US$200 million in new venture capital in December
2010, at a valuation of approximately US$3.7 billion. In March
Twitter shares sold for US$34.50 each on Sharespost, an
implied valuation of US$7.8 billion. In August 2010 Twitter
announced a "significant" investment led by Digital Sky Technologies
that, at US$800 million, was reported to be the largest venture round
In December 2011, the Saudi prince
Alwaleed bin Talal
Alwaleed bin Talal invested US$300
million in Twitter. The company was valued at US$8.4 billion at the
time. In 2016,
Twitter was valued by
Forbes at US$15.7
In July 2009, some of Twitter's revenue and user growth documents were
TechCrunch after being illegally obtained by Hacker
Croll. The documents projected 2009 revenues of US$400,000 in the
third quarter and US$4 million in the fourth quarter along with 25
million users by the end of the year. The projections for the end of
2013 were US$1.54 billion in revenue, US$111 million in net earnings,
and one billion users. No information about how
to achieve those numbers was published. In response, Twitter
Biz Stone published a blog post suggesting the possibility
of legal action against the hacker.
On April 13, 2010,
Twitter announced plans to offer paid advertising
for companies that would be able to purchase "promoted tweets" to
appear in selective search results on the
Twitter website, similar to
Google Adwords' advertising model. As of April 13,
it had already signed up a number of companies wishing to advertise,
including Sony Pictures, Red Bull, Best Buy, and Starbucks.
The company generated US$45 million in annual revenue in 2010, after
beginning sales midway through that year; the company operated at a
loss through most of 2010.
Users' photos can generate royalty-free revenue for Twitter, and an
agreement with World Entertainment
News Network (WENN) was announced
in May 2011. In June 2011,
Twitter announced that it would offer
small businesses a self-service advertising system. Twitter
generated US$139.5 million in advertising sales during 2011.
The self-service advertising platform was launched in March 2012 to
American Express card members and merchants in the U.S. on an
Twitter later reported that numerous small
businesses and people who used the self-service tool provided feedback
that indicated they were impressed by the feature. To continue
their advertising campaign,
Twitter announced on March 20, 2012, that
promoted tweets would be introduced to mobile devices. In April
Twitter announced that its
Twitter Ads self-service platform,
consisting of promoted tweets and promoted accounts, was available to
all U.S. users without an invite.
Twitter's financial revenue statistics for the first quarter of 2014
was reported as US$250 million.
On August 3, 2016,
Twitter launched Instant Unlock Card, a new feature
that encourages people to tweet about a brand in order to earn rewards
and utilize the social media network's conversational ads. The format
itself consists of images or videos with call-to-action buttons and a
Twitter places great reliance on open-source software. The
Twitter Web interface uses the
Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails framework, deployed
on a performance enhanced Ruby Enterprise Edition implementation of
In the early days of Twitter, tweets were stored in
that were temporally sharded (large databases were split based on time
of posting). After the huge volume of tweets coming in caused problems
reading from and writing to these databases, the company decided that
the system needed re-engineering.
As of April 6, 2011,
Twitter engineers confirmed that they had
switched away from their
Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails search stack to a Java server
they call Blender.
From Spring 2007 to 2008, the messages were handled by a Ruby
persistent queue server called Starling. Since 2009,
implementation has been gradually replaced with software written in
Scala. The switch from Ruby to Scala and the JVM has given
Twitter a performance boost from 200–300 requests per second per
host to around 10,000–20,000 requests per second per host. This
boost was greater than the 10x improvement that Twitter's engineers
envisioned when starting the switch. The continued development of
Twitter has also involved a switch from monolithic development of a
single app to an architecture where different services are built
independently and joined through remote procedure calls.
Individual tweets are registered under unique IDs using software
called snowflake, and geolocation data is added using 'Rockdove'. The
URL shortner t.co then checks for a spam link and shortens the URL.
Next, the tweets are stored in a
MySQL database using Gizzard, and the
user receives acknowledgement that the tweets were sent. Tweets are
then sent to search engines via the Firehose API. The process is
FlockDB and takes an average of 350 ms.
On August 16, 2013, Raffi Krikorian, Twitter's Vice President of
Platform Engineering, shared in a blog post that the company's
infrastructure handled almost 143,000 tweets per second during that
week, setting a new record. Krikorian explained that
this record by blending its homegrown and open source
The service's application programming interface (API) allows other web
services and applications to integrate with Twitter.
On April 30, 2009,
Twitter adjusted its Web interface, adding a search
bar and a sidebar of "trending topics"—the most common phrases
appearing in messages.
Biz Stone explains that all messages are
instantly indexed and that "with this newly launched feature, Twitter
has become something unexpectedly important – a discovery engine for
finding out what is happening right now."
In March 2012,
Twitter became available in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and
Urdu, the first right-to-left language versions of the site. About
13,000 volunteers helped with translating the menu options. In
August 2012, beta support for Basque, Czech and Greek was added,
making the site available in 33 different languages.
Twitter fail whale error message
Twitter experiences an outage, users once saw the "fail whale"
error message image created by Yiying Lu, illustrating eight
orange birds using a net to hoist a whale from the ocean captioned
"Too many tweets! Please wait a moment and try again." In a
November 2013 WIRED interview Chris Fry, VP of Engineering at that
time, noted that the company had taken the "fail whale" out of
production as the platform was now more stable.
Twitter had approximately ninety-eight percent uptime in 2007 (or
about six full days of downtime). The downtime was particularly
noticeable during events popular with the technology industry such as
the 2008 Macworld Conference & Expo keynote address.
Privacy, security, and harassment
Twitter messages are public, but users can also send private
messages. Information about who has chosen to follow an account
and who a user has chosen to follow is also public, though accounts
can be changed to "protected" which limits this information (and all
tweets) to approved followers.
Twitter collects personally
identifiable information about its users and shares it with third
the right to sell this information as an asset if the company changes
Twitter displays no advertising, advertisers can
target users based on their history of tweets and may quote tweets in
ads directed specifically to the user.
A security vulnerability was reported on April 7, 2007, by Nitesh
Dhanjani and Rujith. Since
Twitter used the phone number of the sender
SMS message as authentication, malicious users could update
someone else's status page by using
SMS spoofing. The
vulnerability could be used if the spoofer knew the phone number
registered to their victim's account. Within a few weeks of this
Twitter introduced an optional personal identification
number (PIN) that its users could use to authenticate their
On January 5, 2009, 33 high-profile
Twitter accounts were
compromised after a
Twitter administrator's password was guessed by a
dictionary attack. Falsified tweets—including sexually explicit
and drug-related messages—were sent from these accounts.
Twitter launched the beta version of their "Verified Accounts" service
on June 11, 2009, allowing famous or notable people to announce their
account name. The home pages of these accounts display a badge
indicating their status.
In May 2010, a bug was discovered by
İnci Sözlük that could allow a
Twitter user to force others to follow them without the other users'
consent or knowledge. For example, comedian Conan O'Brien's account,
which had been set to follow only one person, was changed to receive
nearly 200 malicious subscriptions.
In response to Twitter's security breaches, the
United States Federal
Trade Commission (FTC) brought charges against the service; the
charges were settled on June 24, 2010. This was the first time the FTC
had taken action against a social network for security lapses. The
Twitter to take a number of steps to secure users'
private information, including maintenance of a "comprehensive
information security program" to be independently audited
On December 14, 2010, the
United States Department of Justice issued a
Twitter to provide information for accounts
registered to or associated with WikiLeaks.
Twitter decided to
notify its users and said in a statement, "... it's our policy to
notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their
information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so."
A "MouseOver" exploit occurred on September 21, 2010, when an XSS Worm
became active on Twitter. When a user held the mouse cursor over
blacked-out parts of a tweet, the worm within the script would
automatically open links and re-post itself on the reader's
account. The exploit was then re-used to post pop-up ads and
links to pornographic sites. The origin of the worm is unclear, but
Pearce H. Delphin (known on
Twitter as @zzap) and a Scandinavian
developer, Magnus Holm, both claim to have modified a related exploit
found by another user (possibly Masato Kinugawa) who was using it to
create coloured Tweets. Kinugawa, a Japanese developer, reported
the XSS vulnerability to
Twitter on August 14. Later, when he found it
was exploitable again, he created the account 'RainbowTwtr' and used
it to post coloured messages. Delphin says he exposed the
security flaw by tweeting a
"onMouseOver", and Holm later created and posted the XSS Worm
that automatically re-tweeted itself. Security firm Sophos
reported that the virus was spread by people doing it for "fun and
games", but noted it could be exploited by cybercriminals.
Twitter issued a statement on their status blog at 13:50 UTC that "The
exploit is fully patched."
Twitter representative Carolyn
Penner said no charges would be pressed.
In May 2011, a claimant known as "CTB" in the case of CTB v Twitter
Inc., Persons Unknown took action against
Twitter at the British High
Court of Justice, requesting that the company release details of
account holders. This followed gossip posted on
Twitter about Giggs's
private life. This led to the 2011 British privacy injunctions
controversy and the "super-injunction". Tony Wang, the head
Twitter in Europe, said that people who do "bad things" on the site
would need to defend themselves under the laws of their own
jurisdiction in the event of controversy, and that the site would hand
over information about users to the authorities when it was legally
required to do so. He also suggested that
Twitter would accede to
a UK court order to divulge names of users responsible for "illegal
activity" on the site.
Twitter would be acquired Dasient, a startup that offers malware
protection for businesses, in January 2012.
Twitter announced plans to
Dasient to help remove hateful advertisers on the website.
Twitter also offered a feature which would allow tweets to be removed
selectively by country, before deleted tweets used to be removed in
all countries. The first use of the policy was to block the
account of German neo-Nazi group Besseres Hannover (de) on
October 18, 2012. The policy was used again the following day to
remove anti-Semitic French tweets with the hashtag #unbonjuif ("a good
Jew"). In February 2012, a third-party public-key encryption app
(written in Python and partially funded by a grant from the
Shuttleworth Foundation) for private messaging in Twitter,
CrypTweet, was released. A month later
Twitter announced it would
implement the "Do Not Track" privacy option, a cookie-blocking feature
found in Mozilla's
Firefox browser. The "Do Not Track" feature works
only on sites that have agreed to the service.
In August 2012, it was reported that there is a market in fake Twitter
followers that are used to increase politicians' and celebrities'
apparent popularity. The black market for the fake followers,
known as "bots", has been linked to "nearly every politically linked
account from the White House to Congress to the 2016 campaign trail".
In June 2014, POLITICO analyzed
Twitter handles with the highest rates
of fake followers: US President
Barack Obama with 46.8 percent,
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Debbie Wasserman Schultz with
35.1 percent, and Senator
John McCain with 23.6 percent. The culprits
working to generate the fake followers, or "bots", include campaign
workers or friends of political candidates. One site offers 1,000 fake
followers for $20. The people creating the "bots" are often from
Eastern Europe and Asia. In 2013, two Italian researchers
calculated 10 percent of total accounts on
Twitter are "bots" however,
other estimates have placed the figure even higher.
After a number of high-profile hacks of official accounts, including
those of the Associated Press and The Guardian, in April 2013,
Twitter announced a two-factor login verification as an added measure
against hacking. In August
Twitter announced plans to introduce a
"report abuse" button for all versions of the site following uproar,
including a petition with 100,000 signatures, over Tweets that
included rape and death threats to historian Mary Beard, feminist
Caroline Criado Perez
Caroline Criado Perez and the member of parliament Stella
Creasy. Followed the sharing of images showing the
killing of American journalist James Foley in 2014,
Twitter said that
in certain cases it would delete pictures of people who had died after
requests from family members and "authorized individuals".
Twitter announced new reporting and blocking policies in December
2014, including a blocking mechanism devised by
Randi Harper, a target of GamerGate. In February 2015,
Dick Costolo said he was 'frankly ashamed' at how poorly Twitter
handled trolling and abuse, and admitted
Twitter had lost users as a
Twitter users outside of the
United States are legally served by the
Twitter International Company instead of Twitter, Inc.
The change made these users subject to Irish and
European Union data
Twitter announced the creation of the
Twitter Trust &
Safety Council to help "ensure that people feel safe expressing
themselves on Twitter." The council's inaugural members included 50
organizations and individuals.
Twitter has a history of both using and releasing open source software
while overcoming technical challenges of their service. A page in
their developer documentation thanks dozens of open source projects
which they have used, from revision control software like Git to
programming languages such as Ruby and Scala. Software released
as open source by the company includes the Gizzard Scala framework for
creating distributed datastores, the distributed graph database
FlockDB, the Finagle library for building asynchronous RPC servers and
clients, the TwUI user interface framework for iOS, and the Bower
client-side package manager. The popular
Twitter Bootstrap web
design library was also started at
Twitter and is the second most
popular repository on GitHub.
Innovators patent agreement
On April 17, 2012,
Twitter announced it would implement an "Innovators
Patent Agreement" which would obligate
Twitter to only use its patents
for defensive purposes. The agreement went into effect in 2012.
t.co is a
URL shortening service created by Twitter. It is only
available for links posted to
Twitter and not available for general
use. All links posted to
Twitter use a t.co wrapper. Twitter
hopes that the service will be able to protect users from malicious
sites, and will use it to track clicks on links within
Having used the services of third parties
TinyURL and bit.ly,
Twitter began experimenting with its own
URL shortening service for
private messages in March 2010 using the twt.tl domain, before it
purchased the t.co domain. The service was tested on the main site
using the accounts @TwitterAPI, @rsarver and @raffi. On September
2, 2010, an email from
Twitter to users said they would be expanding
the roll-out of the service to users. On June 7, 2011, Twitter
announced that it was rolling out the feature.
Integrated photo-sharing service
On June 1, 2011,
Twitter announced its own integrated photo-sharing
service that enables users to upload a photo and attach it to a Tweet
right from Twitter.com. Users now also have the ability to add
pictures to Twitter's search by adding hashtags to the tweet.
Twitter also plans to provide photo galleries designed to gather and
syndicate all photos that a user has uploaded on
third-party services such as TwitPic.
Twitterbot is a computer program that automatically posts on
Twitter, they are programmed to tweet, retweet, and follow other
accounts. According to a recent report, there were 20 million, fewer
than 5%, of accounts on
Twitter that were fraudulent in 2013. These
fake accounts are often used to build large follower populations
quickly for advertisers, while others respond to tweets that include a
certain word or phrase. Twitter's wide-open application
programming interface and cloud servers make it possible for
twitterbots' existence within the social networking site.
Twitter is recognized for having one of the most open and powerful
developer APIs of any major technology company. Developer
Twitter began immediately following its launch, prompting
the company to release the first version of its public API in
September 2006. The API quickly became iconic as a reference
implementation for public REST APIs and is widely cited in programming
From 2006 until 2010, Twitter's developer platform experienced strong
growth and a highly favorable reputation. Developers built upon the
public API to create the first
Twitter mobile phone clients as well as
the first URL shortener. Between 2010 and 2012, however,
a number of decisions that were received unfavorably by the developer
community. In 2010,
Twitter mandated that all developers adopt
OAuth authentication with just 9 weeks of notice. Later that
Twitter launched its own URL shortener, in direct competition
with some of its most well-known 3rd-party developers. And in
Twitter introduced strict usage limits for its API, "completely
crippling" some developers. While these moves successfully
increased the stability and security of the service, they were broadly
perceived as hostile to developers, causing them to lose trust in the
In an effort to reset its relationship with developers, Twitter
Crashlytics on January 28, 2013 for over USD $100 million,
its largest acquisition to date. Founded by
Jeff Seibert and
Crashlytics had rapidly gained popularity as a tool to
help mobile developers identify and fix bugs in their apps.
Twitter committed to continue supporting and expanding the
In October 2014,
Twitter announced Fabric, a suite of mobile developer
tools built around Crashlytics. Fabric brought together
Crashlytics, Answers (mobile app analytics), Beta (mobile app
distribution), Digits (mobile app identity and authentication
services), MoPub, and TwitterKit (login with
Twitter and Tweet display
functionality) into a single, modular SDK, allowing developers to pick
and choose which features they needed while guaranteeing ease of
installation and compatibility. By building Fabric on top of
Twitter was able to take advantage of Crashlytics' large
adoption and device footprint to rapidly scale usage of MoPub and
TwitterKit. Fabric reached active distribution across 1 billion mobile
devices just 8 months after its launch.
In early 2016,
Twitter announced that Fabric was installed on more
than 2 billion active devices and used by more than 225,000
developers. Fabric is recognized as the #1 most popular crash
reporting and also the #1 mobile analytics solution among the top 200
iOS apps, beating out
Google Analytics, Flurry, and
Dorsey (left) said after a
Twitter Town Hall with
Barack Obama held in
July 2011, that
Twitter received over 110,000 #AskObama tweets.
See also: Censorship of Twitter
Issues and controversies
List of Twitter controversies and List of people suspended
Twitter has been used for a variety of purposes in many industries and
scenarios. For example, it has been used to organize protests,
sometimes referred to as "
Twitter Revolutions", which include
April 2009 Moldovan parliamentary election protests, 2009 student
protests in Austria, 2009 Gaza–Israel conflict, 2009 Iran green
revolution, 2009 Toronto G20, 2010 Bolivarian Revolution, 2010 Germany
Egypt Revolution, 2011 England riots, 2011 United
States Occupy movement, 2011 Anti-austerity movement in Spain, 2011
Greece Aganaktismenoi movements, 2011 Italy Rome demonstration, 2011
Wisconsin labor protests, 2012 Gaza–Israel conflict, 2013 protests
in Brazil, 2013 Gezi Park protests. A result of the Iranian
election protests saw the government of Iran block
The service is also used as a form of civil disobedience: In 2010,
users expressed outrage over the
Twitter Joke Trial
Twitter Joke Trial by copying a
controversial joke about bombing an airport and attaching the hashtag
#IAmSpartacus, a reference to the Spartacus film and a sign of
solidarity and support to a man controversially prosecuted after
posting a tweet joking about bombing an airport if they cancelled his
flight. #IAmSpartacus became the number one trending topic on Twitter
worldwide. Another case of civil disobedience happened in the
2011 British privacy injunction debate, where several celebrities who
had taken out anonymized injunctions were identified by thousands of
users in protest to traditional journalism being censored.
Arab Spring in early 2011, the number of hashtags
mentioning the uprisings in
Egypt increased. A study
by the Dubai School of Government found that only 0.26% of the
Egyptian population, 0.1% of the Tunisian population and 0.04% of the
Syrian population are active on Twitter.
In January 2016,
Twitter was sued by the widow of a U.S. man killed in
the 2015 Amman shooting attack, claiming that allowing the Islamic
Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to continually use the platform,
including direct messages in particular, constituted the
provision of material support to a terrorist organization, which is
illegal under U.S. federal law.
Twitter disputed the claim, stating
that "violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place
Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that
clear." The lawsuit was dismissed by the United States
District Court for the Northern District of California, upholding the
Section 230 safe harbor, which dictates that the operators of an
interactive computer service are not liable for the content published
by its users. The lawsuit was revised in August 2016,
providing comparisons to other telecommunications devices.
Twitter suspended multiple parody accounts that satirized Russian
politics in May 2016, sparking protests and raising questions about
where the company stands on freedom of speech. Following public
Twitter restored the accounts the next day without eplaining
why the accounts had been suspended. The same day, Twitter, along
with Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, jointly agreed to a European
Union code of conduct obligating them to review "[the] majority of
valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech" posted on
their services within 24 hours. In August 2016,
that it had banned 235,000 accounts over the past six months, bringing
the overall number of suspended accounts to 360,000 accounts in the
past year, for violating policies banning use of the platform to
In October 2017, actress
Rose McGowan said that
Twitter had suspended
her account for 12 hours after she repeatedly tweeted about former
film studio executive Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct
toward her and others.
Twitter explained that McGowan's account had
private phone number. According to The New York Times, "Many Twitter
users expressed outrage over Ms. McGowan's account being locked".
After the tweet was removed, her account was unlocked several hours
before the 12-hour ban was set to expire. A
stated, "We will be clearer about these policies and decisions in the
future." Later that day, software engineer Kelly Ellis,
using the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter, urged women to shun Twitter
for 24 hours, beginning at midnight, in solidarity with McGowan and,
tweeted Ellis, "all the victims of hate and harassment
to support." The boycott was joined by activists, celebrities and
In November 2017, the Paradise Papers, a set of confidential
electronic documents relating to offshore investment, revealed that
Twitter is among the corporations that avoided paying taxes using
offshore companies. Later
The New York Times
The New York Times reported that
Yuri Milner had strong Kremlin backing
for his investments in
Facebook and Twitter.
Main article: Censorship of Twitter
Twitter is banned completely in Iran, China and North Korea, and
has been intermittently blocked in numerous countries including Egypt,
Venezuela on different bases. In
Twitter cooperated with the Israeli government to remove certain
content originating outside Israel from tweets seen in Israel. In
the 11th biannual transparency report published on September 19, 2017,
Twitter said that
Turkey was the first among countries where about 90
percent of removal requests came from, followed by Russia, France and
Germany. As part of evidence to a US Senate Enquiry, the company
admitted that their systems "detected and hid" several hundred
thousand tweets relating to the 2016 Democratic National Committee
After claims in the media that the hashtags #wikileaks and
#occupywallstreet were being censored because they did not show up on
the site's list of trending topics,
Twitter responded by stating that
it does not censor hashtags unless they contain
In 2016, at the same time as
Twitter executives paid to attend a
political fundraiser by Hillary Clinton, the
Twitter platform banned a
Bernie Sanders account that had started a hashtag critical of
Clinton's fundraising from wealthy donors.
Trust & Safety Council
The announcement of Twitter's "Trust & Safety Council" was met
with objection from parts of its userbase. Critics accused
the member organizations of being heavily skewed towards "the
restriction of hate speech" and a Reason article expressed concern
that "there’s not a single uncompromising anti-censorship figure or
group on the list".
Instant, short, and frequent communication
In May 2008,
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal wrote that social networking
services such as
Twitter "elicit mixed feelings in the
technology-savvy people who have been their early adopters. Fans say
they are a good way to keep in touch with busy friends. But some users
are starting to feel too connected, as they grapple with check-in
messages at odd hours, higher cellphone bills and the need to tell
acquaintances to stop announcing what they're having for dinner."
The following year,
John C. Dvorak
John C. Dvorak described
Twitter as "the new CB
A practical use for Twitter's real-time functionality is as an
effective de facto emergency communication system for breaking news.
It was neither intended nor designed for high-performance
communication, but the idea that it could be used for emergency
communication was not lost on the creators, who knew that the service
could have wide-reaching effects early on when the company used it to
communicate during earthquakes.
Another practical use that is being studied is Twitter's ability to
track epidemics and how they spread.
Twitter has acted as a sensor for automatic response to
natural disasters such as bush fires.
Twitter has been adopted as a communication and learning tool in
educational and research settings mostly in colleges and
universities. It has been used as a backchannel to promote
student interactions, especially in large-lecture courses.
Research has found that using
Twitter in college courses helps
students communicate with each other and faculty, promotes informal
learning, allows shy students a forum for increased participation,
increases student engagement, and improves overall course
Bruce Sterling commented in 2007 that using
"literate communication" is "about as likely as firing up a CB radio
and hearing some guy recite the Iliad". In September 2008, the
journalist Clive Thompson mused in a
New York Times
New York Times Magazine editorial
that the service had expanded narcissism into "a new, supermetabolic
extreme—the ultimate expression of a generation of celebrity-addled
youths who believe their every utterance is fascinating and ought to
be shared with the world". One of the earliest documented forms
of celebrity-related Twitter-like disclosures dates from 1980, when
real estate mogul William Desmond Ryan made round-the-clock press
releases about his relationship with comedian Phyllis Diller, even
revealing what she was making him for dinner on a nightly basis.
Vancouver Sun columnist
Steve Dotto opined that part of
Twitter's appeal is the challenge of trying to publish such messages
in tight constraints, and Jonathan Zittrain, professor of
Internet law at Harvard Law School, said that "the qualities that make
Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful."
Rick Moody wrote a short story for Electric Literature
called "Some Contemporary Characters," composed entirely of
Nielsen Online reported that
Twitter had a user-retention
rate of forty percent. Many people stop using the service after a
month; therefore the site may potentially reach only about ten percent
Internet users. In 2009,
Twitter won the "Breakout of the
Year" Webby Award. During a February 2009 discussion on
National Public Radio's Weekend Edition, the journalist Daniel Schorr
Twitter accounts of events lacked rigorous fact-checking
and other editorial improvements. In response,
Andy Carvin gave Schorr
two examples of breaking news stories that played out on
said users wanted first-hand accounts and sometimes debunked
stories. On November 29, 2009,
Twitter was named the Word of the
Year by the Global Language Monitor, declaring it "a new form of
social interaction". Time magazine acknowledged its growing level
of influence in its 2010 Time 100; to determine the influence of
people, it used a formula based on famous social networking sites,
Twitter and Facebook. The list ranges from
Barack Obama and Oprah
Lady Gaga and Ashton Kutcher. The U.S.
government, seeing social media's role in the 2010 Arab Spring
revolts, covertly developed a Cuban alternative to
ZunZuneo as part of a long-term strategy to "stir unrest". The service
was active from 2010 to 2012.
During the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, in which he appeared
at the London Olympic Stadium in person, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the
founder of the World Wide Web, tweeted "This is for everyone",
which was instantly spelled out in
LCD lights attached to the chairs
of the 80,000 people in the audience.
World leaders and their diplomats have taken note of Twitter's rapid
expansion and have been increasingly utilizing
Twitter diplomacy, the
Twitter to engage with foreign publics and their own citizens.
US Ambassador to Russia,
Michael A. McFaul
Michael A. McFaul has been attributed as a
pioneer of international
Twitter diplomacy. He used
becoming ambassador in 2011, posting in English and Russian. On
October 24, 2014,
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II sent her first tweet to mark the
opening of the London Science Museum's Information Age
exhibition. A 2013 study by website Twiplomacy found that 153 of
the 193 countries represented at the
United Nations had established
Twitter accounts. The same study also found that those
accounts amounted to 505
Twitter handles used by world leaders and
their foreign ministers, with their tweets able to reach a combined
audience of over 106 million followers.
According to an analysis of accounts, the heads of state of 125
countries and 139 other leading politicians have
Twitter accounts that
have between them sent more than 350,000 tweets and have almost 52
million followers. However, only 30 of these do their own tweeting,
more than 80 do not subscribe to other politicians and many do not
follow any accounts.
More than twenty Roman Catholic cardinals manage active Twitter
accounts, nine of whom were cardinal electors for the 2013 Papal
conclave. Pope Benedict XVI's
Twitter account was set up in 2012.
As of April 2016, his successor, Pope Francis, has 9.06 million
followers of his
Twitter account (@Pontifex).
In a 2015 European Foundation for Democracy-European Policy Centre
policy dialogue panel in Brussels, Mark Wallace,
CEO of the
"CounterExtremism Project" and former U.S ambassador to the United
Nations, said: “
Twitter is currently the ´gateway drug´ for those
seeking to recruit fighters for Islamic terrorism and this must be
Twitterbots are capable of influencing public opinion about culture,
products and political agendas by automatically generating mass
amounts of tweets through imitating human communication. The New
York Times states, "They have sleep-wake cycles so their fakery is
more convincing, making them less prone to repetitive patterns that
flag them as mere programs." The tweets generated vary anywhere
from a simple automated response to content creation and information
sharing, all of which depends on the intention of the person
purchasing or creating the bot. The social implications these
Twitterbots potentially have on human perception are sizeable
according to a study published by the ScienceDirect Journal. Looking
at the Computers as Social Actors (CASA) paradigm, the journal notes,
"people exhibit remarkable social reactions to computers and other
media, treating them as if they were real people or real places." The
study concluded that Twitterbots were viewed as credible and competent
in communication and interaction making them suitable for transmitting
information in the social media sphere. While the technological
advances have enabled the ability of successful Human-Computer
Interaction, the implications are questioned due to the appearance of
both benign and malicious bots in the
Twitter realm. Benign
Twitterbots may generate creative content and relevant product updates
whereas malicious bots can make unpopular people seem popular, push
irrelevant products on users and spread misinformation, spam and/or
In addition to content generating bots, users can purchase followers,
favorites, retweets and comments on various websites that cater to
expanding a user's image through accumulation of followers. With more
followers, users' profiles gain more attention, thus increasing their
Web traffic is a valuable commodity for
both individuals and businesses because it indicates notability.
With Twitterbots, users are able to create the illusion of "buzz" on
their site by obtaining followers from services such as Swenzy and
underground suppliers who operate bot farms or click farms.
The companies that facilitate this service create fake Twitter
accounts that follow a number of people, some of these Twitter
accounts may even post fake tweets to make it seem like they are real.
This practice of obtaining mass amounts of twitterbots as followers is
not permitted on Twitter. The emphasis on followers and likes as
a measure of social capital has urged people to extend their circle to
weak and latent ties to promote the idea of popularity for
celebrities, politicians, musicians, public figures, and companies
alike. According to The New York Times, bots amass significant
influence and have been noted to sway elections, influence the stock
market, public appeal, and attack governments.
According to documents leaked by
Edward Snowden and published in July
2014, the United Kingdom's
GCHQ has a tool named BIRDSONG for
"automated posting of
Twitter updates", and a tool named BIRDSTRIKE
Twitter monitoring and profile collection".
Twitter is also increasingly used for making TV more interactive and
social. This effect is sometimes referred to as the second
screen, "virtual watercooler" or social television—the practice
has been called "chatterboxing".
Twitter has been successfully
used to encourage people to watch live TV events, such as the Oscars,
the Super Bowl and the
MTV Video Music Awards; however this
strategy has proven less effective with regularly scheduled TV
shows. Such direct cross-promotions have been banned from French
television due to regulations against secret advertising.
In December 2012,
Twitter and Nielsen entered a multi-year agreement
to produce social TV ratings, which are expected to be commercially
available for the fall 2013 season as the Nielsen
Advertising Age said
Twitter had become the new TV
Guide. Then in February 2013,
Bluefin Labs for
an estimated US$50 million to $100 million. Founded in 2008 at the MIT
Media Lab, Bluefin is a data miner whose analysis tells which brands
(e.g., TV shows and companies) are chatted about the most in social
Technology Review said that Bluefin gives
Twitter part of the US$72 billion television advertising market.
In May 2013, it launched
Twitter Amplify—an advertising product for
media and consumer brands. With Amplify,
Twitter runs video
highlights from major live broadcasts, with advertisers' names and
messages playing before the clip. In October 2013, Comcast
announced that it had partnered with
Twitter to implement its "See It"
feature within the service, allowing posts promoting programs on
NBCUniversal channels to contain direct links to TV
Everywhere streaming to the program. On launch, the concept was
NBCUniversal channels and
Xfinity cable television
In an attempt to compete with Twitter's leadership in TV, Facebook
introduced a number of features in 2013 to drive conversation about TV
including hashtags, verified profiles and embeddable posts. It also
opened up new data visualization APIs for TV news and other media
outlets, enabling them to search for a word and see a firehose of
public posts that mention it as well as show how many people mentioned
a word in both public and private posts during a set time frame, with
a demographic breakdown of the age, gender, and location of these
people. In January 2014,
Facebook announced a partnership with
UK-based social TV analytics company SecondSync which saw the social
network make its social TV available outside the company for the first
Facebook struck the partnership to help marketers understand how
people are using the social network to talk about topics such as
Twitter responded by acquiring SecondSync and
Parisian social TV firm Mesagraph three months later. These
acquisitions, as well as a partnership with research company Kantar
(which it had been working with to develop a suite of analytics tools
for the British TV industry since August 2013) strengthened Twitter's
dominance of the "second screen" – TV viewers using tablets and
smartphones to share their TV experience on social media. With the
additional analytic tools,
Twitter was able to improve the firm's
offering to advertisers, allowing them to, for instance, only promote
a tweet onto the timelines of users who were watching a certain
By February 2014, all four major U.S. TV networks had signed up to the
Amplify program, bringing a variety of premium TV content onto the
social platform in the form of in-tweet real-time video clips. In
March 2014, ITV became the first major broadcaster in the UK to sign
Twitter Amplify and
Twitter introduced one-tap video
playback across its mobile apps to further enhance the consumer
In June 2014,
Twitter acquired its Amplify partner in the U.S.,
SnappyTV. In Europe, Twitter's Amplify partner is London-based
Grabyo, which has also struck numerous deals with broadcasters and
rights holders to share video content across
Twitter. In July 2017,
Twitter announced that it would wind down
SnappyTV as a separate company, and integrate its features into the
Media Studio suite on Twitter.
User accounts with large follower base
Main article: List of most followed users on Twitter
As of February 24, 2018, the ten
Twitter accounts with the most
Twitter accounts are 14 accounts that became active on
March 21, 2006, all belonging to
Twitter employees at the time and
including @jack (Jack Dorsey), @biz (Biz Stone), and @noah (Noah
List of most retweeted tweets
List of most retweeted tweets and List of most liked
A selfie orchestrated by
86th Academy Awards
86th Academy Awards host Ellen DeGeneres
during the March 2, 2014 broadcast was at the time the most retweeted
image ever. DeGeneres said she wanted to homage Meryl
Streep's record 17 Oscar nominations by setting a new record with her,
and invited other Oscar celebrities to join them. The resulting photo
of twelve celebrities broke the previous retweet record within forty
minutes, and was retweeted over 1.8 million times in the first
hour. By the end of the ceremony it had been retweeted
over 2 million times; less than 24 hours later, it had been retweeted
over 2.8 million times. As of
18 March 2014[update], it has been retweeted over 3.4
million times. The group selfie effort was parodied by Lego, and
Matt Groening with The Simpsons. It beat the previous
record, 778,801, which was held by Barack Obama, following his victory
in the 2012 presidential election. On May 9, 2017,
Ellen's record was broken by Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm) by
collecting nearly 3.5 million retweets in a little over a month.
According to Guinness World Records, the fastest pace to a million
followers was set by actor
Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. in 23 hours and 22
minutes in April 2014. This record was later broken by Caitlyn
Jenner, who joined the site on June 1, 2015 and amassed a million
followers in just 4 hours and 3 minutes.
The most tweeted moment in the history of
Twitter was during the
Castle in the Sky
Castle in the Sky on August 2, 2013, when fans tweeted the
word "balse" at the exact time that it played in the movie. There was
a global peak of 143,199 tweets in one second, beating the previous
record of 33,388.
With over 41 million tweets, the most discussed topic ever on
Twitter was the "#ALDubEBTamangPanahon" of
AlDub on October 24, 2015
during the sold out special concert presentation of the Kalyeserye
segment of the noontime show Eat Bulaga entitled Eat Bulaga: Sa
Tamang Panahon held at the Philippine Arena, the world's largest
indoor arena located in Bulacan, Philippines. The said event was
attended by over 55,000 fans.
With over 35.6 million tweets, the most discussed sports game ever on
Twitter was the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final between Brazil and
Germany on July 8, 2014.
On the day of the 2016 U.S. presidential election,
Twitter proved to
be the largest source of breaking news, with over 40 million tweets
sent that day.
Comparison of microblogging services
List of mergers and acquisitions by Twitter
List of virtual communities with more than 100 million users
Twitter usage—How various people and organizations use Twitter
Timeline of social media
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