Happy sixth birthday, Twitter – it has been six years since Jack Dorsey sent out the very first tweet: “just setting up my twttr”, and since then, the public and high-profile personalities have taken to the microblogging site.
Today, people around the world are posting thousands of tweets per second, such as the 9,420 tweets per second during Superbowl 2012, and 8,868 tweets per second during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. Estimates put the number of Twitter accounts at more than 350m.
- twttr was the original project code name for Twitter.
The company, as a result, has grown, as well. It is now available in 28 languages, employs more than 835 people and has recently set up shop in Dublin.
Twitter users tweet about everything, from the mundane to actual news, such as Iran’s disputed presidential election in June 2009 when the country had been under a media crackdown, and to organise events, such as cleanups after last year’s London riots.
Twitter has become an unofficial news source – new of the death of pop star Michael Jackson, for example, appeared on Twitter a reported 45 minutes before it broke over traditional news media.
Twitter users themselves, which include athletes, celebrities and politicians, often become the subject of news themselves. Siliconrepublic.com takes a look at the top 6 Twitter newsmakers yet:
1. Ryan Giggs. Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs had obtained an injunction to prevent details of his affair with former reality TV star Imogen Thomas from being published. In May 2011, MP John Hemming, using parliamentary privilege, disclosed in Britain’s House of Commons that Giggs had been the man at the centre the injunction. Hemming’s revelation may not have been news to many, seeing as 75,000 Twitter users and a Scottish paper named Giggs at the footballer who had an affair with Thomas.
2. Justin Bieber. A man in Dallas, Texas, identified only as Kent, recently began receiving thousands of phone calls from fans of Justin Bieber, after the teen pop star tweeted a phone number. The tweet said “call me right now” and included a phone number with the last digit missing – fans were guessing the last number. The tweet was deleted soon after it was posted, but Kent said he had received calls from all across the US. He didn’t want to change his number, either, seeing as he had it for 20 years.
3. Charlie Sheen. In another phone-number related Twitter incident, actor Charlie Sheen accidentally publically tweeted his phone number in December – he had meant to send it via direct message to Justin Bieber. Sheen’s followers – some 5m of them at the time – retweeted the number. The tweet was taken down and Sheen’s number was disconnected, after fans flooded his phone with calls.
4. Anthony Weiner. New York Congressman Anthony Weiner generated headlines (and a lot of bad jokes) last year, after he tweeted a lewd self-portrait. First he said it was a prank then later admitted he meant to send the photo as a direct message to a woman in Seattle as “a joke”. Weiner no longer holds elected office.
5. (Not) Wendi Deng. On New Year’s Eve 2011, a new Twitter account that looked as if it belonged to Wendi Deng, wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, hit the microblogging site. It quickly amassed nearly 10,000 followers, and “Deng” even flirted with comedian Ricky Gervais and scolded Murdoch for removing a tweet he had written. Soon enough, though, the account holder tweeted, “it’s time to confirm that yes, this is a fake account. I’m not Wendi." There must have been red faces at Twitter, as its ‘blue tick’ system of validating celebrities and other notables failed to spot the fake account.
6. Alec Baldwin. Actor Alec Baldwin shut down his Twitter account and apologised to his fellow travellers after he was removed from an American Airlines flight in December for refusing to stop playing Words With Friends on his phone before takeoff. Baldwin, according to The New York Daily News, later urged his Twitter followers – some 600,000 of them – to "unfollow" him, following an influx of tweets about the airline incident.