Tuesday, 18 May 2010



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers who are known as followers. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Since late 2009, users can follow lists of authors instead of following individual authors.[4][5] All users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS), or external applications (notably including those developed for smartphones). While the service itself costs nothing to use, accessing it through SMS may incur phone service provider fees. The website currently has more than 100 million users worldwide.[6]
Twitter, Inc
FoundedSan Francisco, California, USA
FounderJack Dorsey
Evan Williams
Biz Stone
HeadquartersSan Bruno, California,United States
Area servedWorldwide
Key peopleJack Dorsey (Chairman)
Evan Williams (CEO)
Biz Stone (Creative Director)
Revenue $400,000 Q3 (2009) (projected)[1]
Alexa rank12[3]
Type of sitemobile social network service,microblogging
Available inMultilingual
English, Spanish, Japanese, German, French and Italian
Current statusActive

Since its creation in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Twitter has gained notability and popularity worldwide. It is sometimes described as "SMS of the Internet."[7] The use of Twitter's application programming interface for sending and receiving text messages by other applications often eclipses direct use of Twitter.

What we have to do is deliver to people the best and freshest most relevant information possible. We think of Twitter as it's not a social network, but it's an information network. It tells people what they care about as it is happening in the world.




A blueprint sketch, circa 2006, by Jack Dorsey, envisioning anSMS-based social network

Twitter began in a "daylong brainstorming session" that was held by board members of the podcastingcompany Odeo in an attempt to break a creative slump. During that meeting, Jack Dorsey introduced the idea of an individual using an SMS service to communicate with a small group, a concept partially inspired by the SMS group messaging service TXTMob.[9]

The working name was just "Status" for a while. It actually didn’t have a name. We were trying to name it, and mobile was a big aspect of the product early on ... We liked the SMS aspect, and how you could update from anywhere and receive from anywhere.

We wanted to capture that in the name—we wanted to capture that feeling: the physical sensation that you’re buzzing your friend’s pocket. It’s like buzzing all over the world. So we did a bunch of name-storming, and we came up with the word "twitch," because the phone kind of vibrates when it moves. But "twitch" is not a good product name because it doesn’t bring up the right imagery. So we looked in the dictionary for words around it, and 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.

The original product name or codename for the service was twttr, inspired by Flickr and the fact that American SMS short codes are five characters. The developers initially experimented with "10958″ as a short code, though later changed it to "40404″ for "ease of use and memorability."[9] Work on the project started on March 21, 2006, when Dorsey published the first Twitter message at 9:50 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST): "just setting up my twttr".[11]

The first Twitter prototype was used as an internal service for Odeo employees, later launching publicly into a full-scale version in July 2006. In October 2006, Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Dorsey, and other members of Odeo formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo and all of its assets—including Odeo.com and Twitter.com—from the investors and other shareholders.[12] Twitter later spun off into its own company in April 2007.[13]

The tipping point for Twitter's popularity was the 2007 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. During the event usage went from 20,000 tweets per day to 60,000.[14] "The 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. Soon everyone was buzzing and posting about this new thing that was sort of instant messaging and sort of blogging and maybe even a bit of sending a stream of telegrams."[15] Reaction at the festival was overwhelmingly positive. Laughing Squid blogger Scott Beale said Twitter "absolutely rul[ed]" SXSW. Social software researcherDanah Boyd said Twitter "own[ed]" the festival.[16] Twitter staff accepted their prize for the festival's Web Award with the remark "we'd like to thank you in 140 characters or less. And we just did!"[17]

On March 2010, Twitter has recorded a 1,500 per cent growth in the number of registered users, the number of its employees has grown 500 percent, while over 70,000 registered apps have been created for the microblogging platform, according to the first email newsletter on the company's progress by the website's co-founder Biz Stone.[18]

By the end of 2007, about 500,000 tweets per quarter were posted. By the end of 2008, 100 million tweets per quarter were posted. By the end of 2009, 2 billion tweets per quarter were posted. In the first quarter of 2010, 4 billion tweets per quarter were posted.

On April 11,2010, Twitter announced acquisition of Maker of Tweetie atebits for using Twitter on Mac computers and iPhones. The acquisition price was not disclosed. The application which was $ 2.99 earlier is now made free by twitter and renamed it to Twitter for iPhone, which is now official iPhone app for twitter.[19]

On April 13, 2010, the service, which had been known for having no adverts on the site, announced a plan for including advertising on the site. Rather than showing traditional ads, the site announced that companies would be able to purchase 'promoted tweets', which would be targeted at certain people, depending on their searches on the site, an idea famously used by Google. As of April 13th, Twitter announced it had already signed up a number of companies wishing to advertise, including such brands as Sony Pictures, Red Bull, Best Buy, andStarbucks. [20][21]


Twitter's San Francisco headquarters located at 795 Folsom St.

In total, Twitter has raised over US$57 million from venture capitalists. The exact amounts of funding have not been publicly released. Twitter's first round of funding was for an undisclosed amount that is rumored to have been between $1 million and $5 million.[22] Its B round of funding in 2008 was for $22 million[23] and its C round of funding in 2009 was for $35 million from Institutional Venture Partners andBenchmark Capital along with an undisclosed amount from other investors including Union Square Ventures, Spark Capital and Insight Venture Partners.[22] Twitter is backed by Union Square Ventures, Digital Garage, Spark Capital, and Bezos Expeditions.[24]

The Industry Standard has remarked that Twitter's long-term viability is limited by a lack of revenue.[25] Twitter board member Todd Chaffee forecast that the company could make money from e-commerce noting that many users may want to buy items directly from Twitter since they already use it to get product recommendations and since companies already use it to promote products.[26]

Some of Twitter's documents covering revenue and user growth were published onTechCrunch after they were retrieved by the hacker, Croll Hacker. These contained internal projections that in 2009 they would have revenues of $400,000 in the third quarter (Q3) and $4 million in the fourth quarter (Q4) along with 25 million users at the end of the year. The projections for the end of 2013 were $1.54 billion in revenue, $111 million in net earnings, and 1 billion users.[1] No information about how Twitter plans to achieve those numbers has been published. Biz Stone published a blog post suggesting legal action for revealing the details was a possibility.[27]


A Twitter profile

Twitter has been described as akin to a Web-based Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client.[28] The Twitter Web interface uses the Ruby on Rails framework,[29] deployed on a Ruby Enterprise Edition rather than a vanilla Ruby implementation for performance reasons.[30]

From the spring of 2007 until 2008 the actual messages were handled by a Ruby persistent queue server called Starling[31] but since 2009 this has been gradually replaced with software written inScala.[32] The service's API allows other web services and applications to integrate with Twitter.[33]To group posts together by topic or type, users make use of hashtags, words or phrases prefixed with a #.[34][dead link] Similarly, the letter d followed by a username allows users to send messages privately to their followers. Otherwise, the @ sign followed by a username publicly states the attached tweets are a reply to (or just mention) any specific users (who can find such recent tweets logged in their interface). [35]

In late 2009, the new "Twitter Lists" feature was added, making it possible for users to follow (and mention/reply to) lists of authors instead of following individual authors. [4][5]

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 theVodafone, O2 [36] and Orange[37] networks. In India, since Twitter only supports tweets from Bharti Airtel,[38] an alternative platform called smsTweet[39] was set up by a user to work on all networks.[40] A similar platform called GladlyCast[41] exists for mobile phone users in Singapore,Malaysia and the Philippines.

Character limit

The 140-character limit on message length was initially set for compatibility with SMS messaging, and has brought to the web the kind of shorthand notation and slang commonly used in SMS messages. The 140 character limit has also spurred the usage of URL shortening services such as bit.ly, goo.gl, and tr.im, and content hosting services, such as Twitpic, memozu.com andNotePub to accommodate multimedia content and text longer than 140 characters.

Twitter uses bit.ly for automatically shortening all URLs posted on its website. [42]


Technology author Steven Johnson describes the basic mechanics of Twitter as "remarkably simple:"[43]

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.

On April 30, 2009, Twitter tweaked its web interface, adding a search bar and a sidebar of "trending topics"—the most common phrases currently appearing in messages. "Every public update sent to Twitter from anywhere in the world 24/7 can be instantly indexed and made discoverable via our newly launched real-time search," explained Biz Stone. "With this newly launched feature, Twitter has become something unexpectedly important—a discovery engine for finding out what is happening right now."[44] Usually very often, teen pop sensationJustin Bieber would be in the trending topics list. But, with the new interface, he has been taken off, and his fans are trying to get him back on the list in any way they can. For example, on May 15, 2010, #pattiesson, was a trending topic referring to his mother, Pattie Mallette. On May 16, 2010, BIEBER TREND, became a trending topic.

Content of tweets

Content of Tweets according to Pear Analytics.

San Antonio-based market research firm Pear Analytics analyzed 2,000 tweets (originating from the US and in English) over a 2-week period in August 2009 from 11:00a to 5:00p (CST) and separated them into six categories:[45]

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 "peripheral awareness" or "social grooming".[46]


Twitter is ranked as one of the 50 most popular websites worldwide by Alexa's web traffic analysis.[47] Although estimates of the number of daily users vary because the company does not release the number of active accounts, a February 2009 Compete.com blog entry ranked Twitter as the third most used social network[48] based on their count of 6 million unique monthly visitors and 55 million monthly visits.[48] In March 2009, a Nielsen.com blog ranked Twitter as the fastest-growing site in the Member Communities category for February 2009. Twitter had a monthly growth of 1,382 percent, Zimbio of 240 percent, followed by Facebook with an increase of 228 percent.[49] However, only 40 percent of Twitter's users are retained.[50]


Most of Twitter's usage share comes from 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.[51]

Just 11 percent of Twitter's users are aged 12 to 17, according to comScore.[51]

comScore attributes this to Twitter's "early adopter period" when the social network first gained popularity in business settings and news outlets, which resulted in an older-skewing early adopter profile. However, comScore as of late, has noted that as Twitter has begun to "filter more into the mainstream, along with it came a culture of celebrity as Shaq, Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher joined the ranks of the Twitterati."[52]


The Twitter fail whale error message.

When Twitter experiences an outage, users see the "fail whale" error message image created by Yiying Lu,[53] an illustration of red birds using a net to hoist a whale from the ocean along with the text [54] "Too many tweets! Please wait a moment and try again."[54]

Twitter experienced approximately 98 percent uptime in 2007, or about six full days of downtime.[55] Twitter's downtime was particularly noticeable during events popular with the technology industry such as the 2008 Macworld Conference & Expo keynote address.[56][57]During May 2008 Twitter's new engineering team made architectural changes to deal with the scale of growth. Stability issues resulted in down time or temporary feature removal.

In August 2008, Twitter withdrew free SMS services to users in the United Kingdom[58] and for approximately five months instant messaging support via a XMPP bot was listed as being "temporarily unavailable".[59] On October 10, 2008, Twitter's status blog announced that instant messaging (IM) service was no longer a temporary outage and needed to be revamped. Twitter aims to return its IM service at some point but says this requires some major work.[60]

On June 12, 2009, in what was called a potential "Twitpocalypse", the unique identifier associated with each tweet exceeded the limit for 32-bit signed integers.[61] While Twitter itself was not affected, some third-party clients found that they could no longer access recent tweets.Patches were quickly released, though some iPhone applications had to wait for approval from the App Store.[62] On September 22, the identifier exceeded the limit for 32-bit unsigned integers, again breaking some third-party clients.[63]

On August 6, 2009, Twitter and Facebook suffered from a denial-of-service attack, causing the Twitter website to be offline for several hours.[64] It was later confirmed that the attacks were directed at one pro-Georgian user around the anniversary of the 2008 South Ossetia War, rather than the sites themselves.[65] A hacking attack was aimed at Twitter on 17 December 2009, replacing for nearly an hour the home website's welcome screen with an image of a green flag and the caption "This site has been hacked by Iranian Cyber Army." It was unknown whether there was indeed any link between the hackers and Iran.[66]

Privacy and security

Twitter collects personally identifiable information about its users and shares it with third parties. The service considers that information an asset, and reserves the right to sell it if the company changes hands.[67] While Twitter displays no advertising, advertisers can target users based on their history of tweets and sometimes may quote tweets in ads.[68]

A security vulnerability was reported on April 7, 2007, by Nitesh Dhanjani and Rujith. Since Twitter used the phone number of the sender of an SMS message as authentication, malicious users could update someone else's status page by using SMS spoofing.[69] The vulnerability could only be used if the spoofer knew the phone number registered to their victim's account. Within a few weeks of this discovery Twitter introduced an optional personal identification number (PIN) that its users could specify to authenticate SMS-originating messages.[70]

On January 5, 2009, 33 high-profile Twitter accounts were compromised after a Twitter administrator's password was guessed by a dictionary attack.[71] Falsified tweets—including sexually explicit and drug-related messages—were then sent from the accounts.[72]

Twitter launched the beta version of its Verified Accounts service on June 11, 2009, allowing famous or notable people to make it clear which Twitter accounts belong to them. The home pages of these verified accounts display a badge to indicate this special status.[73]

In May 2010, a bug was discovered that allowed users to force others to follow them without the other user's knowledge. For example, comedian Conan O'Brien has been following only one person since joining Twitter--Sarah Killen of Michigan. However, as a result of the bug, the list of people O'Brien was following increased to nearly 200. Twitter responded by rolling back all followers to zero on May 10, restoring the original numbers later in the day.[74]

Open Source

Twitter contributes to the open source community through various projects that emerged out of the challenges they faced.[75] Notable projects are the Gizzard Scala framework for creating distributed datastores and the distributed graph database FlockDB.


Change of focus

A new mobile version of twitter.com

Twitter emphasized their news and information network strategy in November 2009 by changing the question it asks users for status updates from "What are you doing?" to "What's happening?".[76][77] Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Limiting yourself to 140 characters—the maximum for messages on this diabolically addictive social-networking tool—is easy.".[78]


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."[79] "Using Twitter for literate communication is about as likely as firing up a CB radio and hearing some guy recite the Iliad", said tech writer Bruce Sterling.[80] "For many people, the idea of describing your blow-by-blow activities in such detail is absurd," hypothesized writer Clive Thompson. "Why would you subject your friends to your daily minutiae? And conversely, how much of their trivia can you absorb? The growth of ambient intimacy can seem like modern narcissism taken to 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."[81] On the other hand Steve Dotto opines that part of Twitter's appeal is the challenge of trying to publish such messages in tight constraints.[82] "The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful," says Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School.[83]

Nielsen Online reports that Twitter has a user retention rate of 40 percent. Many people drop the service after a month so the site may potentially reach only about 10% of all Internet users.[84] In 2009, Twitter won the "Breakout of the Year" Webby Award.[85][86]

During a February 2009 discussion on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition, Daniel Schorr noted that 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 Twitter and said users wanted first-hand accounts and sometimes debunked stories.[87]

In an episode of The Daily Show on February 26, 2009, guest Brian Williams derided tweets as only referring to the condition of the author in any given instant. Williams implied that he would never use Twitter because nothing he did was interesting enough to publish in Twitter format.[88]

During another episode of The Daily Show on March 2, 2009, host Jon Stewart negatively portrayed members of Congress who chose to "tweet" during President Obama's address to Congress (on February 24, 2009) rather than pay attention to the content of the speech. The show's Samantha Bee satirized media coverage of the service saying "there's no surprise young people love it—according to reports of young people by middle aged people".[89]

In March 2009, the comic strip Doonesbury began to satirize Twitter. Many characters highlighted the triviality of tweets although one defended the need to keep up with the constant-update trend.[90] SuperNews! similarly satirized Twitter as an addiction to "constant self-affirmation" and said tweets were nothing more than "shouts into the darkness hoping someone is listening".[91]

Notable usage

Use in legal proceedings

The first criminal prosecution arising from Twitter posts began in April 2009. FBI agents arrested Daniel Knight Hayden. Hayden was accused of sending tweets threatening violence in connection with his plan to attend a Tea Party protest in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.[92]

In July 2009, Horizon Realty Group, a Chicago real estate management company, sued a former tenant, Amanda Bonnen, for libel based on a Twitter message she sent to friends. Horizon contended that Bonnen defamed Horizon by posting a tweet to her friends that said, "You should just come anyway. Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's ok." Horizon asked for at least $50,000 for the alleged libel.[93] The lawsuit prompted widespread comment from journalists, bloggers, and legal experts.[94]

Use in education

The Distance College of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, used Twitter with native Chinese students as a tool to train communicative and cultural competence. Students had to post a certain number of English tweets and react to the tweets of their fellow students. Twitter was viewed as a supplement to practice in authentic environment different aspects of the target language as it was taught in the classroom. [95]

The University of Vienna, Austria, used Twitter as an evaluation platform for student ratings. Every student had to send a tweet after each course unit with feedback to the teacher. Twitter turned out to be "a useful tool for evaluating a course formatively. Because of Twitter's simple use and the electronic handling of data, the administrative effort remains small."[96]

At the University of Texas at Dallas, Twitter has been incorporated into the actual classroom setting of History courses with big groups of students. This innovative approach gives more students the opportunity to express their views in class discussions. Another advantage of this approach is that the limit of characters forces them to get to the central point.[97]

According to telegraph.co.uk, Twitter is put on the new primary school curriculum. Children should be able to "organise and adjust" speaking and writing skills depending on the technology being used, including using "emails, messaging, wikis and twitters". During the primary years, children should also be taught to speak, write and broadcast using "blogs, podcasts, websites, email [and] video".[98]

In 2009, higher education faculty began using Twitter to help establish social presence and just-in-time interaction with students that are not bound by a learning management system. [99] [100]

Use in emergencies

Research reported in New Scientist in May 2008[101] found that blogs, maps, photo sites and instant messaging systems like Twitter did a better job of getting information out during emergencies than either the traditional news media or government emergency services. The study also found that those using Twitter during the fires in California in October 2007 kept their followers (who were often friends and neighbors) informed of their whereabouts and of the location of various fires minute by minute. Organizations that support relief efforts are also using Twitter. The American Red Cross started using Twitter[102] to exchange minute-to-minute information about local disasters including statistics and directions.[103]

During the 2008 Mumbai attacks eyewitnesses sent an estimated 80 tweets every 5 seconds. Twitter users on the ground helped compile a list of the dead and injured. In addition, users sent out vital information such as emergency phone numbers and the location of hospitals needing blood donations.[104] CNN called this "the day that social media appeared to come of age" since many different groups made significant use of Twitter to gather news and coordinate responses.[104]

In January 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 experienced multiple bird strikes and had to be ditched in the Hudson River. Janis Krums, a passenger on one of the ferries that rushed to help, took a picture of the downed plane as passengers were still evacuating and sent it toTwitpic before any other media arrived at the scene.[105][106] For this picture, he won the Shorty Award for Real-Time Photo of the Year.[107]

The Australian Country Fire Authority used Twitter to send out regular alerts and updates regarding the February 2009 Victorian bushfires.[108] During this time the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, also used his Twitter account to send out information on the fires, how to donate money and blood, and where to seek emergency help.[109]

Also in April 2009, public health departments used Twitter to provide updates on H1N1 cases.[110]

Used to survey opinion

During the CBC News television coverage of the Canadian federal election on October 14, 2008, the CBC cited tweets regarding Elizabeth May and Stéphane Dion along with a graph of items mentioned on Twitter as evidence that people were calling for Dion to step down in response to the election results.[111]

As of April 26, 2010 the Australian television program Q&A began showing selected tweets on screen during the live broadcast, which carried the hash tag #qanda [112]

Use in campaigning

Twitter was used by candidates in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign throughout the race. Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama used it for publicity.[113] The NaderGonzalez campaign updated its ballot access teams in real time with Twitter and Google Maps.[114] Twitter use increased by 43 percent on the day of the United States' 2008 election.[115]

In 2009, the Republican Party in Connecticut set up fake Twitter accounts in the names of 33 Democratic members of the state legislature.[116] The Republicans used the accounts to send out tweets in the names of the Democrats.[116] When Twitter, Inc. discovered the scheme, it shut down the 33 fake accounts, explaining the applicable company policy: "A person may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse or deceive others."[116] The Hartford Courant editorialized: "Republicans get an A for innovation but a D for ethics."[117]

Use in protest and politics

In June 2009, following allegations of fraud in the Iranian presidential election, protesters used Twitter as a rallying tool and as a method of communication with the outside world after the government blocked several other modes of communication.[118][119][120][121] On June 15 Twitter rescheduled a planned 90-minute maintenance outage after a number of Twitter users and the US State Department asked Twitter executives to delay the shutdown because of concerns about the service's role as a primary communication medium by the protesters in Iran.[122][123] CNN's coverage of the conflict was criticized in tweets with the hashtag #CNNfail.[124] Twitter was also used to organize DDoSattacks against Iranian government websites.[125]

In August 2009, when American opponents of President Barack Obama's health insurance reform proposals attacked the British National Health Service, thousands of NHS users took part in a Twitter campaign expressing their support for the NHS with use of the #welovetheNHS hashtag. The hashtag was initiated by Irish comedy writer Graham Linehan, who said he wanted to use a twitter campaign "as a counterweight against the lies of the American right".[126] The campaign also received the support of several politicians including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.[127][128][129]

New York City activist Elliot Madison used twitter to report an order to disperse message from the Pittsburgh police during the 2009 G-20 Pittsburgh protests. Police raided Madison's hotel room, and one week later Madison's New York home was raided by FBI agents, who conducted a sixteen-hour search. Police claim Madison and a co-defendant used computers and a radio scanner to track police movements and then passed on that information to protesters using cell phones and the social networking site Twitter. Madison is being charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility, and possession of instruments of crime. The FBI took miscellany such as refrigerator magnets, and a Curious George stuffed animal, despite that the warrant issued actually asked for evidence that indicated that potentially there were violations of federal rioting laws. In light of the United States Department of State's recent public support of twitter use in the politics of Iran, Moldova, and Honduras it is asked whether the State Department supports free speech in the United States.[130][131][132]

When The Guardian newspaper was served in October 2009 with an unprecedented "super-injunction" banning it from reporting on a parliamentary matter, it published a cryptic article reporting what little it could. The paper claimed that this case appears "to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights".[133][134] Alan Rusbridger, the paper's editor, credited Twitter users with taking the initiative to uncover the muck that the press was not allowed to print, namely that the injunction was taken out by the London solicitors Carter-Ruck on behalf of commodities trader Trafigura, who did not want public discussion of the 2006 Côte d'Ivoire toxic waste dump scandal and the resulting Minton Report (available on Wikileaks [135]) The reporting injunction was lifted the following day, as Carter Ruck withdrew it before The Guardian could challenge it in the High Court.[136] Rusbridger credited the rapid back-down of Carter-Ruck to Twitter,[137] as did a BBC article;[138] the Wikipedia Reference Desk also quickly figured out what the cryptic article referred to.[139]

Twitter came to the attention of the Canadian House of Commons in October 2009 when MP Ujjal Dosanjh apologized on the floor for improperly "tweeting about matters that ought not to have been tweeted about" during in camera proceedings of a parliamentary committee.[140][141]

In October 2009, Twitter once again came to the attention of the Canadian public when Vancouver Councilor Andrea Reimer tweeted regarding the British Columbia Minister of Housing and Social Development Rich Coleman's weight[142] in response to provincial legislation proposed by Coleman to bring homeless people to shelters during extreme weather.[143] Reimer posted that instead of police bringing homeless people to shelters during extreme weather that she was thinking of introducing legislation to have the police bring Coleman toJenny Craig, an international weight loss company, on his next visit to Vancouver.[143][144][145] Coleman responded by calling the comment amateurish and from a Councilor that "doesn't know any better."[142] Reimer later apologized for the posting.[143]

In December 2009, Supreme Federal Court of Brazil became the first court in the world to display items on the day planner of the ministers, to inform the actions that arrive daily to the Court, and the most important decisions made by them on Twitter.[146]

Late December 2009 the Ukrainian non-profit organization Interenet-Ukraine launched a project aimed at monitoring 2010 Ukrainian presidential election based on Twitter.[147]

On April 22, 2010, during the United Kingdom general election, 2010, several right-wing British newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, theDaily Mail, the Daily Express and The Sun attacked the leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg, reporting several news stories including political donations made to his private bank account,[148] and making a Nazi slur.[149] This was seen by users on Twitter as a personal attack on Clegg on the day that the second Prime Ministerial television debate was to take place, after he performed well in the first. In response to the articles, Twitter users set up the hashtag #nickcleggsfault, in which people made ironic comments claiming the Clegg was to blame for everything wrong in the world.[150][151] Some also criticised the Daily Mail's article on Clegg's Nazi slur was based on an article that Clegg wrote in November 2002 in which, "he criticises attitudes to Germany which seem stuck in the 1950s – and fail to recognise how it has reinvented itself since", and made references to the Daily Mail's support for Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.[150][152] By midday on 22 April, the #nickcleggsfault hashtag was the second-most tweeted hashtag on Twitter globally, second to Earth Day, and the most tweeted hashtag in the United Kingdom.[150]

Use in public relations

In Britain, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills released a Twitter strategy written for the use of other departments. The strategy advised the departments on why Twitter was used by the Government and how they could tweet and promote their doing so effectively.[153] The ICAEW suggested that the document could also be useful to the private sector or as a general introduction to Twitter.[154]

In the United States, a number of environment agencies and NGOs are on Twitter. At the local level, police and fire departments are beginning to use Twitter to keep the public informed of incidents.[155] Some of these departments, such as the Los Angeles Fire Department, issue up to 10 tweets per day.

In October 2008, a draft U.S. Army intelligence report identified Twitter as a "potential terrorist tool". The report said it "is already used by some members to post and/or support extremist ideologies and perspectives."[156][157]

David Saranga of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that on December 30, 2008, that Israel would be the first government to hold a worldwide press conference via Twitter to take questions from the public about the war against Hamas in Gaza.[158]

Use in reporting dissent

On April 10, 2008, James Buck, a graduate journalism student at University of California, Berkeley, and his translator, Mohammed Maree, were arrested in Egypt for photographing a protest against the Egyptian authority's detention of protestors. On his way to the police station Buck used his mobile phone to send the message “Arrested” to his 48 "followers" on Twitter. Those followers contacted U.C. Berkeley, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, and a number of press organizations on his behalf. Buck was able to send updates about his condition to his "followers" while being detained. He was released the next day from the Mahalla jail after the college hired a lawyer for him.[159]

On April 7, 2009, thousands of students stormed the presidency and the parliament building in Chişinău, the capital of Moldova, accusing the government of electoral fraud. Information about these events was disseminated through Twitter using hashtag #pman. This hashtag came from the name of the central square in Chişinău: Piaţa Marii Adunări Naţionale.[160] Twitter was also used to mobilize for the protests.[161]

Use in space mission news

NASA's Space Station crew tweetup, October 21, 2009.

In February 2009, NASA won a Shorty Award for its near real-time status updates in 2008 of the unmanned Mars Phoenix Lander mission.[162]

In May 2009, astronaut Mike Massimino used Twitter to send updates during the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission (STS-125), the first time Twitter was used by anastronaut in space.[163][164] The STS-125 mission marked another NASA/Twitter first—a post-mission tweetup held July 21, 2009, at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., attended by about 200 members of the general public. The crew of STS-125 was on hand for answer questions.[165]

On October 21, 2009, Nicole Stott and her Expedition 21 crewmate, Jeff Williams, participated in the first tweetup from the International Space Station with about 35 members of the public at NASA headquarters[166] This involved the first live Twitter connection for the astronauts.[167] Previously, astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle or ISS have sent the messages they desire to share as tweets to Mission Control which then posted the messages via the Internet to Twitter.[168]

In November 2009, the launch of STS-129 marked NASA's fifth tweetup, and its first such event ever held during a Shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.[169] One hundred members of the general public, representing Morocco, New Zealand and 21 U.S. states, in addition to the District of Columbia, attended the unprecedented two-day event and, for a time, the #nasatweetup hashtag reached #3 on Twitter's trending topics.[170]

In May 2010, NASA is organizing a tweetup for the STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis mission to the International Space Station.

Use in business

Twitter is increasingly being used as a business promotional tool. Twitter encourages this through ‘Twitter 101’, a web-based tutorial aimed at business users.[171]

One of the most famous business Twitter users is Dell, which said that $9m of its 2009 sales came directly through Twitter and Facebook combined.[172] It has been argued that smaller businesses also benefit from using Twitter, since they can compete on equal terms with larger businesses within the Twitter platform. [173] In the UK, a survey indicated that 17% of small British businesses were using Twitter, mainly to attract new customers.

However, increased use of social networking sites has provoked concern about privacy in the workplace, and the protection of company data.[174][175] A survey of 1,400 chief information officers also revealed concerns about the potential for distraction, if workers were given unlimited access to social networking sites such as Twitter.[175]

Twitter will start rolling out advertising to users April 13, 2010, the four-year-old company's first significant attempt to turn its microblogging service into a profitable business.[176]

Use in fundraising

The UK non-profit sector used Twitter to update supporters and potential donors when @BigDaveSB used hashtag #charitytuesday, for which he later shared in a Justgiving Award 2010 for innovative fundraising, using Twitter to keep supporters up to date with regard to progress in a charity jailbreak.[177][178]

Sue Black and others have used Twitter and other social media to raise the profile and funding for Bletchley Park.[179]

Use in prank

All-American Duke basketball player Jon Scheyer played a prank after his team won the 2010 NCAA basketball championship in April 2010. He tweeted his more than 6,700 Twitter followers: "Hollerrrrr at me!!! 847-970-....!"[180][181] But the cell number he shared was that of his former high school teammate, Zach Kelly—rather than his own.[180][181] Even Sports Illustrated was taken in by the ruse.[182] After Kelly had received more than 2,000 text messages and several hundred calls, Scheyer tweeted his fans, begging them to stop texting and calling his friend.[181]

Use in election special coverage

Before, during and after the first automated Philippine elections on May 10, 2010, both television networks including GMA Network[183] andABS-CBN[184][185] continuously posted tweets about the election news and updates including the Maguindanao shootout; explosions in Abra; vote-buying, PCOS machine failures, killings and election-related violence, among many others.[186] This is in part of GMA's Eleksyon 2010[187] and ABS-CBN's Ako Ang Simula: Halalan 2010 special election coverage. People are also asked to send tweets regarding the flow of election - including election failures (ex. PCOS machine delays).[188] YouScoop[189] was also used to send blow-by-blow regional updates, sent by people known as YouScoopers. Partial and unofficial results are then posted by GMA and ABS-CBN's Twitter account starting at 8:00 pm of May 10th (PHT/Philippine time) until the final tally of COMELEC.[190]

Similar services

A number of services similar to Twitter exist, including some which send text messages to multiple people at once. Some services use a concept similar to Twitter's, but add country-specific services or combine the micro-blogging facilities with other services, such as file sharing. Other services provide similar functionality, but are open source.[191] On the other hand, some are within closed networks of corporations, nonprofits, universities, or other organizations.[192]

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