Created in 2006 by developer Jack Dorsey as a tool to keep in touch with friends, Twitter is a web-based social networking service that allows users to send and read short messages. Also considered a microblogging site, Twitter users send tweets of up to 140 characters. These tweets are displayed on an author’s Twitter home page and on the pages of people subscribed to his or her RSS feed.
Twitter enables individual users to post thoughts on any number of topics or activities. While Twitter use varies, it has been used by individuals and organizations to state opinions, promote events, and announce the release of products and services.
Because of the 140 character limit on tweets, Twitter messages are necessarily short. The brevity of the messages highlights the ease with which tweets can be quickly sent from mobile devices to followers around the world. The rapid transmission of information allows individuals and groups to communicate instantly without limitation of physical distance.
Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS) or external applications. While the service itself costs nothing to use, accessing it through SMS may incur phone service provider fees.
Twitter allows individual users to “follow” other Twitter subscribers and read their tweets from the Twitter homepage. Individuals may choose to follow another Twitter account if they are interested in the information provided, are friends with the Twitter account holder, or if they are a “fan” of an activity or place. Following another user’s Twitter account allows for almost instant access to his or her tweets. This can be useful if a follower is looking for a featured item or to better understand the activities of the person or group he or she is following. Individuals who “follow” an individual Twitter user can have instant access to tweets through devices such as a Blackberry, iPhone, or other similar mobile, internet-ready devices.
According to the Nielsen Company, Twitter has been the fastest-growing social networking site in terms of unique visitors, increasing over 500%, from 2.7 million visitors in December 2008 to 18.1 million in December 2009. In March 2011, Twitter reported adding an average of 460,000 new accounts and facilitating the delivery of 140 million tweets every day.
- ↑ Twitter, “Where did Twitter Come From?,” About Twitter. For more information about social networking see danah m. boyd and Nicole B. Ellison, “Social Networking Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship,” 13 J. of Computer-Mediated Comm. 210-30 (Oct. 2007); and Lee Humphreys, “Mobile Social Networks and Social Practice: A Case Study of Dodgeball,” 13 J. of Computer-Mediated Comm. 341-60 (Oct. 2007).