Twitter is a social-networking site (SNS) and micro-blogging platform that allows users to post and share short statuses or updates, known as tweets, in 140 characters or less. This changed in November 2017, when the character limit raised to 280 characters. This was meet with a fair amount of criticism by many users given Twitter's problem with cyberbullying, others complained about removing the uniqueness of 140 characters messages, and others complained of flooding of longer tweets in their timelines. Users follow other users, allowing them to see their tweets in the home feed. This act of "Following" is asymmetric and asynchronous on Twitter, meaning that it does not have to be mutually agreed upon. This is in contrast to Facebook, which is based on the symmetric or synchronous model of friending, where users follow or "friend" the other users that friend them. Only 22% of Twitter user pairs on have reciprocal relationships while 68% of users are not followed by any of their followings. 
After its initial launch, Twitter was often used by celebrities so their fans could follow them and offer a 'verified' ability where celebrities could prove who they were to Twitter and their fans. The 'verified' Twitter symbol has helped to eliminate fake pages and ensure that fans are communicating with actual celebrities in the online environment and not impostors. More recently, Twitter has also become popular among non-celebrities, where it is often utilized to receive fast news updates about important world events. A single tweet can break the news almost immediately following important events, whereas before Twitter, it was necessary for news organizations to publish written stories the next day or organize telecasts to provide information to the people.
- 1 History
- 2 Common Terminology
- 3 Features
- 4 Celebrities and Twitter
- 5 Twitter as a Moral Agent
- 6 See Also
- 7 External Links
- 8 References
Twitter was developed by former media-aggregation firm Odeo and was originally called just “Twttr” (without vowels). The platform launched on July 15, 2006, led by its founders: Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Evan Williams and Biz Stone. Throughout its early stages, many scholars expressed concern over its apparent lack of usefulness. Some early concerns were that the conversational platform would not gain enough traction to serve serious public conversations. 
Throughout the early years of Twitter, users logged on primarily to talk about their daily routines rather than to relay more widely important information. Furthermore, a survey of 2,000 tweets conducted by Pear Analytics in 2012 found the most common type of tweet to be "pointless babble" (such as “I am eating a sandwich now”) as opposed to alternative types (such as news, spam, self-promotion, conversational messages and those that pass-along value). In 2009, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd took a stab at Twitter by claiming it was a toy for high school girls and celebrities to use when they got bored. 
Despite this early confusion about its goals as a platform, Twitter began attracting new followers at a rapid pace after its July, 2006 release. By its seventh birthday, the platform boasted over 200 million active users and hosted a reported 400 million tweets per day.  In 2016, almost one quarter (24%) of all online adults used Twitter.  While it is believed that Latinos, African-Americans and Whites share similar social media habits, the latter population is less represented on Twitter: Only 21% of White internet-users actively turn to Twitter while 25% of African-Americans and 23% of Latina internet-users do so.
Twitter is overseen by its publicly-traded parent-company Twitter Inc., which is based in San Francisco, California. According to company founder Jack Dorsey, the word "twitter" is a perfect name for the platform because the term insinuates both 'a short bust of inconsequential information' and 'chirps from birds'.  This refers to the 140 character limit.
Dorsey served as the chief executive officer of Twitter from the company's inception until October 16, 2008, when Evan Williams took over as CEO and Dorsey became chairman of the board. Under Williams' leadership, Twitter reportedly grew from 20 employees to 300, its registered user-base jumped from 3 million to 160 million, and the firm began generated its first streams of revenue. Still, Williams stepped from the CEO position two years later, promoting the firm's chief operating officer, (COO), Dick Costolo, as the new CEO and moving himself into product strategy. Dorsey remained an executive chairman. 
On July 1, 2015, after almost five years of leading Twitter through sluggish growth and against tough scrutinization from Wall Street investors, Dick Costolo walked away from the company, prompting its stakeholders to immediately name Jack Dorsey as an interim CEO. According to The New York Times, Costolo had "repeatedly failed to meet Wall Street’s high expectations" since first debuting Twitter as a public company in 2013. 
Twitter's headquarters is located at 1355 Market Street in San Francisco, CA, and they have offices in New York, NY; Boston, MA; and San Antonio, TX. In 2010 they had $140 million in revenue and over 600 employees. They are currently ranked 9th on Alexa and support many languages. In December 2011, Twitter announced that it would move into its new headquarters in June 2012. The new headquarters were moved from the Folsom St. to the Market Square building on 1355 Market St. in San Francisco, CA. The company has plans to increase its workforce to about 3,000 by 2013.
The Twitter interface has remained the same throughout much of its growth, but in late 2010, the company began rolling out a revamped interface. The new site now had the ability to see pictures and videos without leaving Twitter itself by supporting websites including YouTube and Flickr. These are generally hosted on twitpic.com. In December 2011, Twitter had launched a major redesign to create a more efficient and accessible user interface to attract new users. The design includes four labels on top of the site: home, connect, discover, and the user. The user's profile and trending topics are on the left side, while the tweets are on the right side. The new design is meant to compete with Facebook's new timeline interface.
In August of 2012, Twitter added limits to their APIs, causing controversy among third-parties who rely on Twitter's API to worry about the future of Twitter as a platform . On September 18, 2012, Twitter launched a redesigned profile page with the addition of a header photo that appears above the user's Tweets. .
- Activity: Found in the "Discover" tab. Activity is a real-time dashboard to view what the people the user follows are doing on Twitter, view tweets that users have favorited or new user's they are following.
- Archive: Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, vows that by the end of 2012 users will be able to download all of their tweets.
- Connect: The "@" tab that allows the user to view interactions and mentions. Users are able to view who has favorited or RT tweets from the user, and all of the user's @replies and @mentions.
- Direct Message: A direct message, commonly referred to as simply a message, is a private message sent between two users.
- Discover: The "#" tab that allows the user to find tweets, activity, friends, and who to follow, or to browse categories.
- Follow: To follow someone means you are subscribing to receive their tweets on your News Feed.
- Follower: A follower is another user who follows you and receives your tweets on their News Feed.
- Geolocation/Geotagging: The use of location data used in tweets to tell followers where the user is located when tweeting.
- Handle: A handle is simply a username. All handles must start with an "@" symbol and contain any combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Hashtag: A hashtag is the "#" symbol and is used to indicate trending topics or specific words in a tweet. Tweets link when using the same hashtag.
- Header Photo: The header photo is comparable to Facebook’s cover photo. It is displayed on each user’s profile page.
- Lists: A custom group where a user can filter their news feed into smaller groups based on their grouping.
- Like: A tweet that has been marked with a heart, indicating that the user who did the marking takes interest in that specific tweet. This used to be referred to as "favoriting" a tweet, and tweets were marked with a star instead.
- Mention: To mention another user means to include the "@" symbol followed by their Twitter handle in the tweet. Twitter users tend to "mention" people if they want that user to see what they tweeted.
- Modified Tweet: A tweet that has been shortened. A user can retweet a text and manually retweet a message with modifications. Signified by MT.
- News Feed: A chronological list of tweets composed of the people a user follows. Also known as "Timeline" signified by TL.
- Profile: The public appearance of a user's tweets with a customizable background, profile picture, and short biography.
- Profile Picture: Similar to Facebook, the profile picture is used as one of the main means of identification for Twitter users.
- Reply: A user can respond to a tweet sent by someone they follow, however the response can only be seen by other Twitter users if they follow them or if their tweets are unprotected.
- Retweet: A tweet that has been tweeted again by a different user. Signified by RT.
- Trending Topic: A popular subject being talked about on Twitter, indicated by a hashtag and calculated algorithmically. You can specify your location to see what is trending in your country or city.
- Tweet: A message posted on Twitter containing 140 characters or less. Tweet is also a verb referring to the act of sending a message on Twitter.
- Unfollow: To unfollow someone means you are unsubscribing to receive that users tweets on your News Feed.
Twitter encourages you to "follow your interests." It is common to follow your friends, industry experts, and celebrities. Once an account is set up, users' tweets are publicly visible by default. However, there is a setting that allows people to restrict their viewers by privatizing their account. People can "tweet" from a computer on the website, from smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices with the Twitter app, or via text message (SMS). Applications have been developed by Twitter itself for Apple computers, Apple iOS devices, Android devices, and Blackberry devices. Other third party applications, such as UberSocial or HootSuite have also been developed to aid in the tweeting process.
Users can tweet whatever they want and reply to others' tweets by mentioning the other user in a tweet. Mentioning another user can be done by using the "@" sign followed by their Twitter username. Users have the ability to mention as many users in one tweet as the 140 character restriction allows.
"Retweeting" is common on Twitter as well. If users want to repost a tweet so that their own followers can see it, they can do so by clicking the "retweet" button and either adding text to the retweet (if there are enough characters left) or simply retweeting it with no additions. However, retweeting is only possible if the account that the user wishes to retweet is public. Tweets from private accounts are not able to be retweeted.
To help with the small character limit in tweets, there are various URL shortening services that are commonly used. Some include: Bitly, Twitpic, and Twitter's own t.co domain that shortens all URLs posted on the site. Users are then able to tweet photos and videos via these link shortening services.
Various websites, such as a site with articles or photos, give users the option to share the item with friends via social media sites, including Twitter. On Twitter, this will appear as a tweet with the ability to add your own comment, the link to the site, and usually a phrase with the name of the item and "via" the source.
In addition to the tweets that appear in one's newsfeed by the people they follow, companies can also pay to have tweets appear in every Twitter user's newsfeed as a promotion.
Trending topics is one of Twitter's main features that has began in 2008 and sets it apart from other social media sites . Users would tag a certain topic that their post was about, and Twitter then uses an algorithm to calculate which topics are the most talked about. To identify these topics, users use "hashtags" which start a word or phrase with the "#" sign. A user can tweet about a topic, such as #finalsweek or #michigandifference to signify to other users which topic they are talking about. Twitter has made this feature clickable so that if a user clicks on the topic that is hashtagged, then it will bring them to a page that focuses on the hashtag topic. Many popular events to use this feature are TV shows, big movie premiers, natural disasters, or really anything big in the news that is happening. It has begun to serve as another media for people to get their information from.
Trending topics "helps people discover the 'most breaking' breaking news from across the world, in real-time" . The use of hashtags have grown from referencing the news, to starting contests, to grouping those together who share the same interests. An example of the use of marketing in trending topics is with reality television shows. Such shows usually value audience feedback and they will ask their viewers to tweet about certain elements of the show with a specific hashtag. When the show is currently airing, this hashtag often becomes a trending topic.
Trending topics are organized geographically. One can view trending topics throughout the world, nation, or a specific city.
Aside from the general trending topics, there are also promoted topics. In these promoted topics, companies can pay a fee to have their topic appear at the top of the list with the other trending topics that people look for.
Other than tweeting, users have the ability to direct message or "DM" other users. Direct messages are privately sent messages that only the people you send it to can see. The only way two users can direct message each other is if they are both following each other.
Verified accounts were introduced on Twitter in order to create revenue as well as to protect corporations and celebrities from fake Twitter sites distributing inaccurate information to followers. These verified accounts are obtained through payment to Twitter. A verified account is displayed by a blue and white check symbol following the username of the individual of corporation. This is Twitter's way of confirming that the individual or corporation is who they claim to be. According to Twitter's website, they concentrate on verifying users that are highly sought to be followed. This includes users in acting, music, the government, fashion, politics, journalism, media, advertising, business, religion, and other areas of importance as such. The occasional business partner is verified, as are individuals that Twitter believes are at a high risk to be impersonated. In terms of verified accounts, Twitter seeks out those they'd like to verify proactively. The general public cannot request to be verified, but rather Twitter has to reach out to the user. Twitter's verified users have a unique feature to their profiles in that they have two timeline options - selecting "All" or "No" replies. The"All" option takes into account that some verified users tend to reply to mentions from their many followers. By selecting "All" the follower can see all of the verified user's replies in addition to their own tweets. The "No" option allows the viewer to see only the user's tweets and not their replies to others. Because the "All" option can make a verified profile seem crowded and cluttered, "No" is selected by default. 
The "Connect" feature of Twitter is one of four tabs available to users at the top of the Twitter website. Within Connect, there are two options that the user can view: "Interactions" and "Mentions". Interactions provides the user with a feed of all the interactions they have with other Twitter users. This includes when a user favorites their tweet, retweets their tweet, responds to their tweet, and mentions the user in a tweet by including their handle name. Mentions is simply just all the times that the user has been mentioned in a tweet by another Twitter user. This includes all retweets, replies, and simple mentions in which a user includes one's handle name in their tweet.
Twitter's "Discover" feature is one tab at the top of the Twitter online website available to users. Within this feature, there are five options that the user can view. "Tweets" is where the user can view "what's happening now, tailored for [them]." This is a live feed of tweets by users that this person is not necessarily following, but is similar to some of the accounts that the user is currently following. The "Activity" section allows the user to view what the users of the accounts they are following are doing. This includes showing what they have favorited, retweeted, or which accounts they have started following. "Who to follow" is a section where "Twitter accounts [are] suggested for you based on who you follow and more." By viewing this section, users can browse and simply request to follow an account right there. The "Find Friends" section allows users to "Search [their] contacts for friends already on Twitter, or invite them via email." There are two search bars; one for searching for friends within the Twitter website and one for inviting friends via their email addresses. The "Categories" section within DIscover lets users "Select topics [they're] interested in [and] follow people [they] want to hear from." There is a search bar that allows users to search a topic name, a person's full name, or a person's username. Below that are several general categories, such as Music, Sports, and Entertainment, with popular Twitter accounts within each category that the user could potentially be interested in following.
The "Lists" feature allow users to customize lists that group certain users together. Viewing a list timeline will display a stream of tweets and retweets posted only by the users that were designated on the list. Lists can be created as private or public. Private lists are only accessible by the user, and public lists can be viewed and followed by anyone on Twitter.  Some popular Twitter lists that have been used by the public include the Twitter team, World Leaders, Olympians from the 2012 summer olympics, and Top 50 funny tweeters 
Twitter cards make it possible for users to attach media experiences to tweets that link to other websites/apps content. Users who tweet links to this content will have a "card" added to the tweet that’s visible to all of their followers. When using an official Twitter app or the Twitter web site, images would be displayed in their Cards view, meaning the image could be embedded with the text. A simple click or tap of a button would unfold the picture below the text without having to take a user to another window or Web site. Websites such as the The New York Times and ESPN use this feature. In December 2012, Instagram removed this feature from its users saying “We want to direct users to where the content lives originally.” Within days of Instagram removing itself from the feature, Pinterest began using the feature. Pinterest hopes gain more attention to its website and allows its users the benefit of getting their fix on both social networks.
Celebrities and Twitter
Twitter does not require mutuality in order to see celebrity users' tweets. Because of this feature, users feel closer to their idols where as other Social Networking sites do not have this tool. The prominence of celebrities on Twitter is demonstrated by the fact that Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears all have more followers than the population of Sweden, Greece and Israel.
Ashton Kutcher was the first Twitter user to get 1,000,000 followers. He challenged CNN, the breaking news Twitter feed, to attain a million followers before him. This event was an illustration to changing ways Twitter could be used, and an insight into who Americans are paying attention to.
Justin Bieber actively tweets. His fans also actively tweet at and about him; 3.0% of all Twitter activity at any time is associated to Bieber and he has racks of servers solely devoted to him. It has been said that when he stops tweeting for periods of time, his fans begin to believe that he has died.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the most followed athlete on Twitter. He currently has over 14 million followers. F.C. Barcelona has the most followed team account, having accumulated approximately 14,500,000 followers.
In late 2010, musical artist Alicia Keys instituted a social media campaign in which she would sign off of Twitter and other social media platforms to raise awareness of AIDS. Other celebrities including Lady Gaga, Usher, and Justin Timberlake also took part in the campaign. Keys' event, entitled Digital Life Sacrifice, benefitted the Keep a Child Alive Campaign. The Kardashian Sisters, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake and others all stopped going on Twitter until 1 million USD was raised for the charity. The effects that celebrities can have via Twitter are both beneficial and mundane.
Twitter as a Moral Agent
As with other social media technologies, Twitter has been targeted as an example of how technology is reducing the quality of human interaction and language in society. Twitter, in particular, relies on fast-paced updates and abbreviations in order to meet the 140 character limitation. Because of this environment, interesting forms of spelling and slang have been developed through this concise interaction. Many English teachers have bemoaned the apparent deteriorating state of the vernacular.
Twitter is an emerging social media platform that has attracted many charitable causes and fundraising opportunities. One example is the TwitChange auctions. In these auctions, bidders try to have a celebrity follow them on Twitter, retweet them or @mention them. To date, TwitChange has raised $500,000 and have had 200 celebrities bidded. All proceeds went to funding a center to care for individuals with disabilities. The next auction will support and benefit U.S. Armed Services and their families.
As mentioned earlier, another example is Celebs Quit Twitter for Charity. In 2010, celebrities vowed to not update their personal Twitter pages until $1 million were raised for an AIDS charity. Fans and followers had to donate $10 to the cause in order to raise the needed funds and get their favorite celebrities to continue their tweeting activities.
These fundraising tactics have been extremely successful through using Twitter as a charity platform.
Due to the popularity of Twitter and the platform it provides for quick information sharing, some city governments have adopted Twitter as a form of emergency response contact.Citizens in need of fire, medical, or law enforcement aid can post a tweet to their local emergency response agency when it is inconvenient to call. Conversely, local governments can quickly deliver important information to citizens following on Twitter. This was demonstrated in 2013 during Hurricane Sandy, when the Red Cross analyzed over two million Twitter posts to help determine how to best distribute resources.  In addition to using Twitter as a source of first-hand reports about the current conditions, the Red Cross also kept track of the areas where nobody was Tweeting, as a complete lack of social media posts indicated that the people in that area were likely in need of help. 
Most notably, Japan has been engaging in talks surrounding the incorporation of Twitter into the nation's emergency response system. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency recently held an event in Tokyo to discuss using Twitter as a communication tool during natural disasters. The idea is that large-scale disasters could knock out voice-based systems, making social networks the best option to communicate. Also this summer, people in the Philippines took to Twitter to coordinate relief efforts after flooding, while people in Turkey used Twitter in the wake of an earthquake. .
Because of the speed of social media, there have been cases in which Twitter has been able to detect an earthquake before the USGS sensors could. Twitter Earthquake Detection uses parameters such as terms used, location, and time of tweets to determine when and where an earthquake has occurred in real time. Because of the flow of earthquakes, this also makes it possible for one to learn that they will be struck by an earthquake soon as tweets have been detected along the same fault lines. Recently, USGS and Twitter have teamed up to allow USGS access to social media posts.   In a visit to his alma mater the University of Michigan, Costolo talked about Twitter wanting to team up with more countries to be a part of this emergency response service.
Privacy, specifically Privacy in Social Networking, is another issue that arises with Twitter. When an account is set to private, other users cannot retweet a private user's tweets, however there is always the option to copy and paste a certain text or passage into a new tweet. In this way, the tweet will not show as one of your own tweets retweeted, but rather as a separate tweet from the second user. Either way, once the information is out to the world, it cannot be withdrawn. Especially high profile people like celebrities, their tweets are under a microscope. People are in essence creating a brand name for themselves. Who they follow, what the retweet, and what they tweet is how their reputation is made. It's not about who they actually are or their intentions, it's how Twitter makes them come across to the world.
Twitter has had an increased use in forms of community organizing, protesting, and creating awareness. Twitter's hasthtags provide a convenient means for users to collect data on a common page. For example, when the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage the hashtag #iagaymarriage was created by The Des Moines Register to tweet about the event. Other news agencies used the same hashtag and it became a very common hashtag for news on the topic.
Twitter has created online citizen journalism giving people the ability to share images and news directly from the source of events. News sources can combine traditional reporting methods, with first hand accounts of tweets as seen in this aricle from The Lede on protesters being hit with tear gas at an Occupy protest in Oakland.
Twitter has been used to organize people for protests across the Middle East. The revolutions that have occured in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya are collectively called the Arab Sping. The use of social media is widely used for organization of protests because it is hard for the Internet to censor these types of communication. For example, in Egypt, the government tried to counter the tweets by shutting down Internet access to the country, but 10,000 people still got the message and arrived in Egypt's major cities to protest the current government. .Through the use of social media, there is the potential to organize oppostion and create revolutions.
Truth in Breaking News
Twitter has become a platform for news coverage based on the premise that anyone can tweet news and have it picked up by major news organizations. 40 million election-related tweets were sent by users on the day of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, making Twitter the largest source of breaking news on that day.  This has led to problems with unverified content being used by news organizations in April 2012, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, was publicly rumored to be facing indictment on tax fraud. The story turned out to be false, originating from a small blog called the "Palmetto Public Record," and was picked up by "The Hill," a paper from Washington D.C., and subsequently reported by the Washington Post minutes later. By the time the rumor was found to be false, South Carolina's largest newspaper, The State, had an article about it on its front page and many national news organization had shared the information with their readers and followers. Despite having no actual evidence for such a report, the story became national news and led Haley to fear that the "the episode may have done lasting damage to her reputation." 
To combat some of the issues journalists face with Twitter, some news organizations have come up with policies to directly address how to handle tweets. For example, NPR warns its corresponds to "Conduct yourself online just as you would in any other public circumstances as an NPR journalist (and to) verify information before passing it on." NPR also acknowledges that this won't always happen. In cases where the information is shared despite the lack of facts, NPR emphasizes the importance of transparency. They tell their correspondents to make explicitly clear about where information came from and how truthful it is known to be. If information is just a rumor with few, if any, reliable sources, the NPR's corespondents must say so directly. 
Advertising and Trends
Twitter's 70.76 million users generates trends based on what they are saying and tagging their posts. On the Twitter home user page is a section that displays current hashtag trends a user can interact with. Beginning in 2010, Twitter began to insert sponsored trends that appear in the portion of the screen promoting the normal trends. Some users have objected to this feature, reasoning that pertinent content may be hidden in place of promoted material. If the link is clicked on, the user will be taken to a page featuring numerous tweets about the topic, featured tweets by the advertiser at the top of the list.
Suspension and Bans
A number of users have been suspended or banned altogether from using the application. Twitter users can be banned for abusive behavior including harassment, threats, hate speech, slander, or abusing the ability to create multiple accounts. Twitter users have the ability to report other Twitter users for behavior that breaks their rules. Twitter purports, “We believe in freedom of expression and in speaking truth to power, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up.”  Users have criticized Twitter for failing to delineate specific information about what might lead to a suspension or permanent ban.A number of public figures have been suspended or banned from using Twitter.
- In July 2016, conservative political pundit Milo Yiannopolous was permanently suspended from Twitter for reported racist comments against “Ghostbusters” actor Leslie Jones. 
- In May 2015, Charles C. Johnson was banned from Twitter after tweeting a request for funds to “take out” Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson. 
- George Zimmerman, the man acquitted of fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, was allegedly permanently suspended in December 2015 after posting semi-nude photographs of his ex-girlfriend, often termed “revenge porn.” 
- Rapper Azealia Banks was suspended after personally attacking Zayn Malik and a 14-year-old Disney star. Banks tried to return to the application under a different username, but her second account was also suspended. 
Right-leaning media outlets have been critical of Twitter’s policies and accused Twitter of inhibiting free speech. Breitbart denounced the organization for “alienating right-wing users.” 
Users have voiced concern over prominent users violating Twitter policy and not being suspended. In one instance, President Donald Trump used the platform to threaten nuclear war, prompting users to request the suspension of his account.  Twitter responded, stating “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate." 
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