From FYSE 1396: Digital Media Literacy
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Twitter is a social networking and micro blogging site that was founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Evan Williams, and Biz Stone.[1] Once registered, Twitter users can send, read, favorite, or share 'tweets'. Tweets are messages that are limited to 140 characters.[2] After it's founding, Twitter grew incredibly quickly, amassing half a billion users who tweeted three hundred and forty tweets a day by the end of 2012.[3]


Twitter was created by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass,Evan Williams, and Biz Stone while they worked for Odeo, a podcasting company. During a day long brainstorming session, the created the website to act as a SMS service for small groups.[4] Twitters original name was twttr; inspired by flickr. Dorsey explains that: “[they] 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.”[5]

Twitter reached its critical mass during the 2007 South by Southwest interactive conference where the website was received incredibly well by consumers.[6] It was so well received that the number of tweets per day increased from twenty thousand to sixty thousand immediately following the conference.[7] Following this success, Twitter grew incredibly quickly reaching the bench mark of 100 million tweets per quarter by the end of 2008. As of September 2013, tweeters tweet approximately four hundred million tweets daily.[8]

Usages and Features of Twitter

Twitter is a highly interactive site that allows for large scale spreading of information. Although limited to a specific number of characters (140), Twitter works as a way to spend out multiple messages onto the online world without social consequences. Twitter allows for its users to create profiles which also allows for a more personal interaction between users. The specific tools that allows Twitter to have such successful interactivity are the "retweets," "quote tweet," and "favourite" options. Through such an array of tools at the users disposal, they have the opportunity to further the words of specific users. This also helps the potentially unlimited reach of personal tweets, unless the privacy settings are changed by the user. The identity of the users on Twitter develops through their tweets. The actual profile of a person on Twitter is an outline of their tweets and retweets. This enables users to get to know the inner personality of the users through things that they like and reading the things that the users say.

"Following" is one of the most important parts of Twitter's community formation. In this system users decide whose tweets they would like to see in their feed by choosing to follow specific accounts. Since following is not mutual - like "friending" on Facebook, for example - users may have a large disparity between their number of followers and the number of people they follow. This disparity often means that celebrities and those who have formed strong networks on Twitter will have many followers, while most people will have fewer. A clear power dynamic emerges, as those with many followers have the potential to have their tweets read by a wider range of people. Such a system also gives users a sense of their audience, although any tweet could potentially be read by any Twitter user, or be seen by only a few of a person's followers.

Another key feature of twitter is its structure. With the "hashtag" referencing system, users can search for different topics. Because the reach of twitter is so expansive, hashtags allow for user to focus in on individual topics and form digital communities around ideas, activities, and news that interest them.[9] Moreover, unlike other mediums, twitter is neither a completely synchronous method of communication nor is it completely asynchronous. As a result, Twitter can be used conversationally or for broadcasting purposes. Twitter really excels as a broadcasting tool. Because users are able to replicate and share tweets easily through Twitter's retweet function, important, interesting, or amusing tweets can be seen by many users very quickly.


  1. "Twitter." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.
  2. "Twitter." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.
  3. "Growth in Numbers: A Look into Twitter Usage." Lieberman Technologies. Lieberman Technologies, 28 Apr. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.
  4. "Twitter." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.
  5. Sano, David (February 18, 2009). "Twitter Creator Jack Dorsey Illuminates the Site's Founding Document". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 18, 2009
  6. "Twitter." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.
  7. "Twitter." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.
  8. "Twitter." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.
  9. "Hashtag." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.